Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de los Muertos: Honoring Loved Ones at a Wedding

Honestly, I haven't paid much attention to Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday to honor one's ancestors. I think Halloween--my favorite holiday--overshadows everything else for entire months leading up to it.

This year, however, I've been paying more attention to holidays, since I feel obligated to teach my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders at the public Montessori school where I work about cultural traditions and celebrations from around the world (Labor Day, but the way, is a really inspiring holiday!).

I attended a workshop about Dia de los Muertos at a local store for Mexican folk art. I learned all about the tradition of making altars to honor one's deceased loved ones. I then worked with some of my students after school to create remembrance boxes (it's amazing what old shoeboxes can transform into!).

The whole process has really gotten me thinking about the healing and fortifying effects of celebrating loved ones who have passed away. I've read tidbits on various blogs about ideas for honoring one's deceased family members and friends at weddings, and I wanted to gather some of those ideas here. After all, weddings are about community, connection, and love. For some folks, it makes perfect sense to honor or highlight deceased members of our community during the gathering. I wish Matt and I would have done this.

Here are some ideas for how to do it:
  1. Memorial Candles: Each candle can have a specific person's name attached to it.
  2. Small Picture Charms: You can put a picture of an important loved one in a small picture frame (thanks to Ariel for the Etsy idea!) and secure it somewhere significant (on a tie clip, bouquet, sash, etc.).
  3. A Picture to Hold a Loved One's Place: This couple used a photograph to mark the place the groom's deceased brother would have been as the best man. So touching!
  4. A Place in the Ceremony Program
  5. Toast to Those Who Are Present in Spirit
  6. Poem or Song During the Ceremony
  7. A Special Song and Dedication During the Reception
There are lots of options for honoring loved ones privately or publicly.

What other ideas have you come across?

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E. said...

So regarding the using a picture to stand in as an honorary groomsman...I had a friend tell me about a wedding she went to where the couple had a picture of the bride's sister, who had died as a baby and who the bride never met, as her "honorary maid of honor". My friend refers to this wedding as "the dead baby wedding". So I think it's important to consider who you are honoring.
Other things I've seen - placing a rose on the chair where that person would have sat (works well for a parent); and one TV show where the bride got the groom locket cufflinks - two of his brothers had passed away and the bride put a picture of one in each locket.

megan said...

I've seen "In Memory" vases for table arrangements. My FH just lost his uncle last week, and I think it would be special to etch his name in the vase. His widow already expressed her inability to come to our wedding so soon (it'll be only 6 months) after his passing, so I was toying with the ida of sending her the vase afterwards. I'd have to check with my fiance's family to see if this would be touching or just a sad reminder....

The Thirty-Something Bride said...

Amazing timing!

My now-husband lost his mother to cancer when he was 11 and his older brother to a horrible accident when he was 17.

I kept pushing him to have SOMETHING to honor them at our wedding. He would have none of it, saying that a wedding was a time for joy, not a time to mourn by creating some sort of obvious memorial (notation in the ceremony program, candles, etc) for others to endure.

I finally got the right thing though. I found bride and groom Dia de los Muertos dolls at a unique gift shop here in Nashville. They were on little sticks. We used them as our cake toppers! Most people thought they were hysterical (we kind of did too), but it was our own PRIVATE memorial!

My photographer has a shot of them on his blog that he just put up. It's on the bottom of the "details board" if you're interested in seeing them.


Kate said...

Even though we definitely feel that a wedding is a day for celebration and not for sadness, my guy and I want to honor some of our close relatives who are no longer with us on our big day. We're planning on including a small section of "In Loving Memory" in our program, with the list of names (my grandmothers, his grandparents, his brother). In addition, I'm planning on having charms of my two grandmothers and his younger brother sewn onto my bouquet wrap (am planning on giving the charm of his brother to his mother on a chain the following day).

Another thing to consider is to give a donation in lieu of favors. We are planning to donate to the American Cancer Society (all three of our grandmothers died of cancer, two of them in the past year), and having ribbons at each place setting in honor of the donation.

Ang said...

My grandmother, who I was very close to, passed away suddenly 3 years ago, and my fiance's father passed away 4 months before our wedding. After researching everywhere and talking to a lot of other brides, most said that they regretted prominent "In Memory" ceremonies and tokens (Like the "Dead baby wedding").

We decided to be more subtle, and have two small trees with a single votive candle on each to represent our loved ones. Our mothers will light their tapers from those votives, and then light the unity candle. To all who are involved, it represents them, yet it won't make our guests feel uncomfortable.

The Sapphic Housewife said...

I'm so glad you're teaching your students about different holiday traditions. It's a wonderful thing to learn about.

Dia de los Muertos has always been important in my family because it combines remembrance of those who've passed on with joy for their lives and their watching over the living. I still keep up my family's traditions even though I live on my own now. Just made pan de muerto last night. =)

When my partner and I have a wedding, we'll definitely be using some of my family's traditions to remember those who are no longer with us.

Melesha said...

That seems like a wonderful way to honor someone who has departed.

brighteyed23 said...

Instead of wedding favors you make a donation to a charity in honor of the deceased and place little cards on the plates of each guest or each table stating "In lieu of favors a donation has been made to xxx charity in memory of xxxx" ....My mother died of ovarian cancer so I will wear a simple teal (fake) flower on my dress to honor her in addition to this substitution of favors.

Anonymous said...

My Hubby & I are renewing our wedding vows, mostly because our first wedding was a super small intimate shotgun wedding, lol. In any case, we are actually having a Dia de Los Muertos themed wedding. We are planning on renewing our vows @ the church, and after the ceremony have masks & colorful umbrellas @ the exit of the church to have a parade walk to the reception which is the next block over. We are indeed going to have an "altar" table with marigold flowers and pictures of all of our dearly departed friends & family, along with some of their favorite treats. All of our linens and serviceware are brightly colored & we have tissuepaper banners to string around the hall. Our centerpieces are Dia de Los muertos skulls, brightly painted on a bed of marigolds, and brightly colored votives. This holiday is a part of our culture, and we are so stoked to have it completely incorporated into our wedding.

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