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?


It's hard to lose a parent -- and when you're about to get married, their absence can seem even more noticeable, since you've always pictured them as an integral part of your day. There are plenty of wonderful and appropriate ways to honor a deceased parent. The one thing you don't want to do is mention your dad on the invitation, with the word "late" -- the parents listed on the invite are the wedding hosts, and including your dad would be awkward and may strike guests as sad. But on your wedding day, mentioning and honoring your dad will be touching, and it's an important part of the day for you. Here are some options -- you might choose one, or several meaningful ones.

  • In your program, write a tribute to your dad, an anecdote about him, a favorite poem, or anything about or for him.
  • Include a moment of silence in the ceremony to honor him or have a candle lit in his memory.
  • Ask your officiant to mention him during the ceremony.
  • Lay a flower from your bouquet on an empty seat in the front pew next to your mom.
  • Have someone read his favorite passage of Scripture, fiction, or poetry.
  • Read a letter he sent to you as a child.
  • Carry or wear a memento from him (jewelry he gave you, his handkerchief, etc.).
  • Select his favorite song to be sung at the ceremony or played at the reception.
  • Talk about and toast him at the reception.
  • Have the father daughter dance be with a grandfather, brother, or uncle.
  • Visit his grave after the ceremony and leave your bouquet there.
    As far as asking your uncle to escort you, it's perfectly appropriate. You certainly could have asked your mom or walked alone, but it's completely your choice.
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