Growing up, I was incredibly close to my mother’s parents, and not so much with my father’s. My maternal grandparents had a huge hand in raising me, and I was devastated when I lost them both to cancer within four months of each other in 1999. When I got engaged, I was faced with a common dilemma experienced by brides: how does one pay tribute to lost loved ones without dampening the mood or expressing too much favoritism? While I wasn’t close with my paternal grandmother, I didn’t want to insult her or make a grand gesture of a tribute that I wasn’t planning to extend to my recently departed paternal grandfather. I opted for several small, personal touches peppered throughout the event (my little secret!) that will discreetly remind me of Grandpa Jack and Grandma Hilda but not shift any focus to our loss.
Here are some ideas for those who want to remember loved ones in a sweet and subtle way at their wedding:
- When you shop for your engagement and wedding rings, find one with a design reminiscent of the one(s) your loved one(s) wore. Or better yet – if it’s okay with any other family members who may be entitled to inheriting them – use the original rings. It’s a great way to build on old memories as you make new ones. I matched my rings to a band I inherited from my grandmother, and every time I look at it, I feel like she’s experiencing all the happiness and excitement with me even though she’s no longer here.
- Use his or her favorite color in your color scheme. Think of it as an interesting spin on your “Something Borrowed”. It doesn’t have to be a main color in your scheme, but perhaps you use it as an accent.
- Incorporate his or her favorite foods into the menu. I always thought this was a sweet idea, although it wouldn’t really work for me since my grandparents sort of “lived” on Nathan’s Hot Dogs! If your loved ones’ palettes were limited or their favorite dinner item was a little too “casual” like mine were, why not use their favorite cake flavor instead? If they had a sweet tooth, why not build in a candy buffet?
- Have an antique locket with your loved ones’ photo in it strung on the ribbon wrapping your bridal bouquet. If you can find a copy, consider using their wedding photo placed in there. It will also be particularly sentimental if the locket was one owned by the loved ones pictured.
- Instead of favors, donate to a charity close to your loved ones’ hearts in your guests’ names. If they passed as the result of a health condition or disease, consider donating to a charity that funds research it. If they were passionate about the arts, perhaps you donate to a theater or museum…. you get the picture!