12 Special Ways to Honor a Deceased Loved One at Your Wedding

Looking for ways to memorialize a dear friend or relative who's passed? Try one of these subtle, yet meaningful ideas.
by Bridget Clegg
Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Kristin Sweeting / TheKnot.com
photo by Kristin Sweeting

Your wedding day is a celebration with loved ones, so it's only natural to want to include those friends or relatives who've passed away before you get to say "I do." Your inclusion of a deceased relative can be as subtle as a symbolic white rose in your bouquet or as public as a moment of silence at the ceremony, and we rounded up 12 more ways below. It's also a good idea to check in with any close relatives who may be sensitive to the death—from there, you can decide how you'd like to honor them without turning the wedding into something that feels like a heavy memorial service.

Pin their photos to your bouquet.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Kristin Sweeting / TheKnot.com
photo by Kristin Sweeting

Kristin Sweeting

Set up a memory table at the reception with photos of family and friends who have passed away.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: CYoung Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by CYoung Photography

CYoung Photography

From the album: A Coastal Garden Wedding in California

Lay a flower from your bouquet on an empty seat at the ceremony.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Laura Ivanova Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by Laura Ivanova Photography

Laura Ivanova Photography

From the album: A Vintage Garden Wedding in Rochester, NY

Include a family recipe on the menu.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Heather Ann Design & Photograph / TheKnot.com
photo by Heather Ann Design & Photography

Heather Ann Design & Photography

From the album: A Sweet Indoor Wedding in New Orleans, LA

Add a flower arrangement in their honor on the altar, then include a note about it in the program. (Tip: Gladiolus, rosemary, pansies and statice are flowers that signify remembrance!)

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Photo by Aubrey / TheKnot.com
photo by Photo by Aubrey

Photo by Aubrey

From the album: A Bright Whimsical Wedding in New York, NY

Include their favorite flowers in your bouquet.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Jodi Miller Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by Jodi Miller Photography

Jodi Miller Photography

From the album: A Romantic Garden Wedding in Norfolk, VA

Have a moment of reflection at the beginning of the ceremony.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: STUDIO 1250 / TheKnot.com
photo by STUDIO 1250

STUDIO 1250

From the album: A Chic Romantic Outdoor Wedding in Charleston, SC

Light a candle for them during the ceremony.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Justin DeMutiis Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by Justin DeMutiis Photography

Justin DeMutiis Photography

From the album: A Classic Timeless Wedding in Tampa, FL

Offer a special favor for guests at your reception in your loved one's memory and include a sign to explain the token. (“Take a cigar for Jim!")

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Melissa Robotti Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by Melissa Robotti Photography

Melissa Robotti Photography

From the album: An Elegant Tented Wedding in Newport, RI

Select one of their favorite songs for the ceremony music or reception playlist.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Archetype Photography / TheKnot.com
photo by Archetype Photography

Archetype Photography

From the album: A Vintage-Inspired Wedding in Kendalia, TX

Toast to them at the reception.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Hot Metal Studio / TheKnot.com
photo by Hot Metal Studio

Hot Metal Studio

From the album: A Vintage Chic Wedding in Pittsburgh, PA

In lieu of favors, make a donation to a charity that your loved one supported.

Ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding: Luminaire Images / TheKnot.com
photo by Luminaire Images

Luminaire Images

From the album: A Playful Modern Wedding in Los Angeles, CA

See More!

> Ask Carley: How to honor deceased relative at wedding?

> 21 guest books that make great keepsakes

> 10 ways to personalize your ceremony

Up Next
Wedding Family Matters: Honoring a Deceased Parent at a Wedding?

I am planning to marry next year. My father passed away recently. I want to acknowledge and thank him, not necessarily as part of the wedding ceremony but perhaps at the wedding reception. Is there a classy way to do this that will not put the reception on a low key or depress wedding guests? Also, I have asked my uncle, the only surviving member of my father's family, to give me away. Is this all right, or should I have asked my mother or no one at all?

by The Knot2 min read