Losing my mother and honoring her memory through my own offbeat wedding

Guest post by smallblondeone

farmers' market flowers & my mom's dressI have been engaged for over a year, and Offbeat Bride has frequently been a sanctuary from the Wedding Industrial Complex.

I was expecting my wedding to be non-traditional in many ways, but I have to say I've been surprised by one way in which our wedding will be offbeat: traditional wedding blogs and magazines rarely talk about how brides have honored their absent loved ones.

I have taken so much joy (if that's even the right word) in seeing how other Offbeat Brides have made touching, bittersweet acknowledgements of those who can only be there with them in spirit. Why are these rituals are surprisingly absent from “traditional” wedding magazines and blogs?

Some of this may be that the wedding industry demands of us that we gloss over, not only our physical blemishes, but also the “imperfection” of an incomplete family. However, I have to wonder if the honoring of memories also shows up so much more often on Offbeat Bride because losing someone close to us has given us the “YOLO” mentality that empowers us to break tradition in the first place.

My mom passed away almost two years ago, and her absence would be a gaping hole in my life, even if it weren't for the fact that I have been planning my wedding. She and my dad were life partners for almost 30 years, but they didn't get married until four days before she died.

She had been divorced once before, and had no interest in signing another marriage contract or being held to the gender normative ideals of being a “wife” ever again… until the legal hassles of dying of a terminal illness made her reconsider. (I can't pass by this point in the story without acknowledging how unjust it is that, had she not had the privilege of being in a cisgendered heterosexual relationship, she would not have had the freedom to make this choice!) Ultimately, she and my dad decided to turn lemons into lemonade and threw themselves a wedding.

It was an inherently offbeat shindig: I “emceed” the wedding. She wore a red tunic and leggings (because she was a classics professor and red was the color worn at ancient Greek weddings), and my dad wore stovepipe black jeans and a tuxedo tee shirt. And they had a daytime, Quaker ceremony with a potluck reception.

Everyone there saw past the immediate sadness of knowing the circumstances of her illness, and it was incredibly joyful celebration of their 30 years of love for each other and their amazing contribution to their many communities. It would not (and I would argue could not) have been that way if they had felt obligated to have a “traditional” ceremony.

I know that being a part of that wedding has empowered me to craft an offbeat wedding that I can proudly take ownership of.

Will you be honoring departed loved ones at your wedding?

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Comments on Losing my mother and honoring her memory through my own offbeat wedding

  1. Holy cow. Your parents… what an amazing idea to turn our typical conception on its head. Wedding as a celebration of the successful marriage and partnership. Your post got me tearing up.

  2. Wow, inspiring post!

    I must add tho my thoughts on the lack of honouring lost loved ones in the WIC are way more cynical than yours. I imagine this is important to plenty of brides who prefer a more conventional wedding but isn’t represented in the knot, etc.cause advertisers don’t make money out of it. Honouring loved ones is rarely, if ever, going to involve selling generic goods to.a mass market.

    I understand obb is a business too but its obvious from the content thats its more of a social enterprise in that values come before profit.

  3. My mom passed away 11 years before my wedding. She was a huge part of my life; as were both of my grandfathers who also passed away in the last ten years. I would not be the woman I am today without these people and not acknowledging them at my wedding would not feel right to me.

    The lack of information on WIC-focused websites regarding ideas for honouring deceased loved ones and the harsh reaction of commenters on WIC-focused message board when brides suggested that they were going to honour a deceased loved one was a major turn off for me.

    The most frustrating moments of wedding planning were trying to figure out how to include my mother when WIC-focused websites/message boards kept telling me I couldn’t/shouldn’t. When we were designing our invitations I was looking for wording that would let me mention my mother and I kept hitting a brick wall (“Dead people can’t host weddings”). Instead of telling me what I could do everywhere was telling me what I couldn’t do. It didn’t feel right to me to just have “Bride’s Name and Groom’s Name along with their parents” on our invitations, or to exclude our parents, or to just exclude my mom, or to exclude my mom while including my step-mum’s name. In the end, we chose to have our names and then on the line below our name daughter/son of ___ and ___ (with my mom’s name second preceded by “the late”).

    I just want to say, it’s not “morbid” or “depressing” for a bride or groom to honour their mother or other loved ones at their wedding. My mother and grandfathers were with me all day. I had pictures of them in charms on my bouquet and flowers from my mother’s garden (that my aunt transplanted into her garden) were in my bouquet (and other arrangements). Their names and the names of three of my husband’s family members who have also passed away were mentioned in our ceremony; and their pictures (all six of them) where on a memory table at our reception (the memory table was one of my MIL’s favourite things about our wedding).

    • Writing “the daughter of John and the late Jane Smith” is probably the most common and way to do it. I’m one of those weird people who read obituaries and ignore the rest of the paper, and that is exactly how they word it when someone dies and only parent has preceded them. (Or when the spouse has) I don’t understand why anyone would say that you can’t or shouldn’t do that. That just seems ridiculous. If someone is important to you, then you can and should include them. There’s nothing morbid about it.

      That being said, my mother’s father died when she was a child and she very much wanted to include him in her wedding. She’s a pushover so when she was told “absolutely not, that’s morbid” by her mother and older sister, she let it go. All she wanted to do was take a picture at his grave site. Not with the whole party, just her and my father. That’s it. But she never did it and she has said she regrets it. (This really surprised me, because she’s very mainstream and I just can’t picture her in a wedding dress at a cemetery)

      Don’t let anyone tell you who you can and cannot include. Or how you can and cannot include them. It’s your wedding and you do what you want, dammit.

      • My favourite part of the newspaper is the obituaries, and I love wondering around cemeteries, especially old ones (we went to two on our honeymoon).

        Our culture has an odd idea about death. I’m not the type of person who would not do something because someone told me I can’t or shouldn’t do it. I just think it should be as easy to find ideas about honouring loved ones on your wedding day as it is to find ideas for centrepieces. Even the optional line our officiant has to honour deceased loved ones in ceremony scripts excludes listing specific names, though she had no issue with adding in the names (as this was important to us). It’s hard enough to plan your wedding without your mother or other loved one, then to be reminded constantly that you don’t fit into the “ideal” mould that mainstream media projects (this is beyond WIC) and then to be told that you can’t/shouldn’t do what you want just piles on more frustration.

        If our wedding was near where my mom was buried I would have loved to go there on our wedding day. I wonder if my mom did anything on her wedding day to honour her mother (my grandmother died when my mom was a teenager too).

  4. I lost my mother when I was 13, I understand that by me being 16 now, and preparing myself for a happy marriage (at 18) ahead Not having my Mother there was going to be difficult.
    Since her passing I lost a Grandmother, and Uncle, and 3 Close friends.
    On the day of her funeral, her best friend who had been in the same position that I am now in, said that the hardest day of my life with her not being there.
    I think alot for alot of peoples weddings the mother of the bride is a really important role.
    I have always felt like I was missing out on having an awesome mum, who was just the right kind of sassy and caring and fun to be around.
    On my wedding day, in my speech there will be a reference to her, and a seat will be saved for her.

    Its an odd thing to do.

    My hearts go out too all in the same position as me.

    Your story aboslutely moves me, and I’m sure that she couldnt be anymore proud of her lovely daughter.

    Love to all

  5. Often on the more WIC sites, I see a lot of brides (it’s almost always brides, not grooms) who come in asking for opinions on how they want to honor loved ones who are gone. Virtually every time, people chime in saying, “That’s great, but …” and explain how the bride needs to be careful not to focus too much on the deceased loved one. Apparently, it’s a wedding, not a memorial service, and it’ll just bring everyone down and steal focus, and lots of your guests didn’t know the deceased etc etc etc.

    Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit for effect, but it’s curious how often it gets turned into something that’s not okay to do. You can do it in tiny ways that don’t draw the attention of guests who didn’t know the deceased. But once it becomes really noticeable, enough to devote time during the ceremony, or an empty chair, or enough to generate curiosity (“What’s this table over here with candles and photos?”), it becomes too morbid and, again, steals focus.

    But the thing is, our weddings are big cultural celebrations where we bring together our friends and family members to say, “You are part of our lives! You’ve made us who we are, you continue to shape us and support us. We’re here today because of all of you. Let’s party!” And it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone who shaped us and supported us, and made us into the people we were when we found each other, is here to celebrate with us.

    For us, it’s my grandfather and his grandmother. My grandfather died when I was barely 2 years old, but he’s been a larger-than-life presence in our family over the past 25 years. There are photos of him everywhere, stories told constantly, 4 children named after him, etc. One thing that devastates me is that I wish he could be here and see what I’ve done with my life, and I want him to be proud of me and proud of how amazingly close his family is.

    My partner’s grandmother died a year ago, when my partner and I had already known we’d eventually get engaged and get married, but before we had told a soul. It was difficult for my partner that she died without knowing that her grandson’s girlfriend would definitely become his wife. It’s also been hard because, although I met her several times and my partner and I had been together for a not-short period of time, she was very ill, and so she wasn’t herself anymore by the time I met her. So while I met her, I didn’t really meet HER.

    We’re not sure how we’re going to honor them at the wedding. We’re not going to do empty chairs; it’s been too long since my grandfather passed away (and I was really very little at the time), and an empty chair for Gramma would be wildly upsetting for my mother-in-law. My grandmother has graciously allowed us to use my grandfather’s tallit as our chuppah, something that my cousin is also doing a few months earlier at her wedding. We’re thinking about tying my partner’s grandmother’s rosary beads onto our chuppah frame, but we’re not quite sure what people would think. We’d also like to have a memorial table, with pictures of our grandparents and memorial candles.

    I’m sobbing at my desk typing this. Clearly, I did not get enough sleep!

  6. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know. My mom passed away last year from Alzheimer’s Dementia (at 53). We had a pretty volatile relationship growing up, we never got along, to the point where the relationship could get extremely toxic at times, and then just normal toxic during the rest of the time. There are only a few times I can recollect where we got along long enough to have serious adult conversations, and those are the moments I hold onto, because otherwise I’d just be bitter and angry all the time.

    But at the same time, I really notice the hole she’s left behind during my planing of this wedding. She loved this kind of thing, and she probably wouldn’t have been super up in arms about how offbeat my wedding is. I’m honestly kind of scared of doing bridal things like trying on dresses, bridal shower (my paternal grandmother is throwing me one), etc. because most things wedding related stress about how awesome it is that your mother is there during those times. I’m super grateful for my grandmother stepping into that position for me, but it’s just weird.

    So now I’m at this point where, due to our negative relationship, I don’t know if I want to honor my mother, but at the same time, the fact that she’s not here for it is like someone screaming into a megaphone right into my ear.

    Has anyone ever had to deal with something similar? I’m really curious how other offbeat brides have dealt with something like this, because I can’t really find anyone who’s gone/done something similar.

    • I have a very similar story. My mom passed away a year and a half ago of Dementia at age 57. She had a history of mental health issues, including severe Bipolar Disorder. Through a series of unfortunate events, I provided care for her through my preteen and early teen years, and then her disorder caused our relationship to turn very toxic as well. It never really improved until she had lost so much of her sanity that she forgot to be mad at me all the time. I never had any semblance of a normal relationship with my mother, and so I (guiltily) don’t think too much about her during the wedding planning process.

      I am planning to honor her because I am in a place of peace with our relationship, and I certainly mourn the person that she was in the moments that she was healthy. Like you, I hold onto those moments to avoid being bitter. For me, it’s easy to blame her disorders and it helps me. It did make me sad to try on dresses, and to read all the fabulous mother-daughter bonding experiences that I know I won’t have, but I find value in doing those things with my friends instead. I’m so glad your grandmother is stepping into that position for you.

      No one can truly speak to what you should do in your position. It’s really hard to mourn someone you loved and had a great relationship with. It’s also really hard, in a different way, to mourn someone with whom you wish you had a great relationship, but didn’t. If you’re not at peace with your mother, don’t feel obligated to honor her just because of the hole that she left. But if having her presence there in some way will help you, I’m certain you’ll find the right way to honor her. It will be whatever feels right to you when the time comes.

      • Wow, so I didn’t really expect any sort of response to my comment, but wow, I’m really glad people did. It’s nice to hear from both ends of whether or not to honor someone you might not have had the best relationship with. I truly won’t know until closer (or even day-of) to the wedding. Like I said, on one had I really want to, because it will even minutely feel like the gaping hole where she’d be would be somewhat filled (at least with memories), but on the other hand, our relationship was so toxic, even before she got sick, that part of me wants to say, “No, I’m not devoting any more of my life to trying to fit you into it.” I tried for several years to fix myself so that I worked better with her, until I realized I wasn’t the problem. (Like your mother, mine also had a history of mental illness, and a lot of regret that she turned outward on everyone else).

        I think since the wound is still so fresh (she only passed away this past August), I feel I’m healing well, but it’s still fresh enough where my healing process could easily turn the other way. So I’ll will continue to search my feelings and figure out what to do next year.

        Also thank you in particular rockstarparking, it’s somewhat comforting to know that myself and my family weren’t the only people on the planet to lose someone to Dementia at what is considered “too young” for the disease (my brothers, father and myself really thought my mom was the only person to have this happen to her). I’m sorry for your loss as well.

    • My mother passed away when I was a teenager. We didn’t have toxic relationship by no means but it probably wasn’t a high point in our relationship since teenage me was testing my parents. I can’t say I know what you are going through but different parts of wedding planning were hard for me. I went dress shopping with a friend and felt sad that I couldn’t go with my mom. I didn’t have a shower on my side, only on my husband’s side (I didn’t want a shower but I know my mom would have insisted just as my MIL did). I know that while I was planning my mom would have called me all of the time asking me how things were going (my dad and I are close but he’s not all that interested in wedding planning). I made conscious decisions to have someone step into mother of the bride roles when I felt comfortable but at other times I didn’t feel comfortable ‘replacing’ her so I left the gaping hole. I have known intellectually for a long time that the grieving process would be long and hit bumps along the way (especially when it comes to important life events, wedding and children). I found it very important to honour my mom at our wedding as part of my grieving process (that makes it sound sad but I found it joyous and comforting to remember her on our wedding day). I also allowed myself to grieve during our wedding planning which some days meant that I cried a lot.

    • My mother and I also had a volatile relationship, and she passed away halfway through my 2 year engagement. She pretty much told me right off the bat that she wouldn’t be at my Hawaii destination wedding because she’d either not want to make the effort or she’d be dead (Yep. Happy engagement!) She was sick for most of my life with Hepatitis C, but her health severely rapidly declined after a breast cancer diagnosis and her utter refusal to quit drinking. I ended up going to buy my wedding dress while I was was hanging around the hospital and she was under sedation, about a week before a brain aneurysm killed her.

      And damnit, it was fucking tough. I was paralyzed with grief for a while, but I channeled my grief into wedding planning, because it was about the only thing I was capable of doing – save drinking all the booze and smoking all the weed to numb the pain.

      And, awful as this may sound, it became easier for me to deal with wedding stuff and not have to think about her not being there because of her stubbornness and bitchiness. She was gone, I could honor her and have the wedding I wanted without there being animosity. In a way, a weird, twisted and kinda fucked way, I was glad to not have to deal with it. I didn’t have any engagement parties or bridal showers. But I did have a surrogate mother, someone who has always taken on that role in my life when my own mother was incapable, who helped me get ready. Who cried when I put on my wedding dress. Who shared a parental moment with my dad. She was my mom’s best friend, but she knew how to actually BE a mom.

      I didn’t have to deal with my mother’s judgement or trying to steal the spotlight or snarkiness or alcoholism. And while there were moments that made me miss her, it was more about missing the concept of a mother-daughter relationship, not about missing our relationship. Because it sucked.

  7. Weddings are corner stones in people’s lives. I don’t understand why there is not more support for a bride or groom remembering an important being in one’s life that is missed. I saw many people on OBB and IRL use their flower bouquet to represent the person with a small photo, a tie or jewelery. It is one of the many beautiful ways to honor the person that passed.

    • I attached a locket with my maternal grandparents’ photos to my bouquet. We also set up an area with several generations worth of family wedding photos, mostly parents and grandparents, to honor and celebrate the commitments they made before us. It was a subtle way for us to acknowledge those that weren’t around anymore that was still meaningful to us. I also wore several pieces of my grandmother’s jewelry, including her wedding band (which I inherited after her passing).

  8. Honoring the people who have played such a huge role in your life and would be partying with you if they were still alive is a beautiful thing to do. It’s unfortunate that the subjects of death and the dead are so taboo to so many people – I see no reason to not combine a celebration with remembrance.

    My father’s parents were married for nearly seventy years and completely devoted to each other until the end. After I got engaged, I got a valentine tattoo with their initials, and at my wedding, I plan to wear a locket with their photos. They were and are such wonderful role models for a long and happy relationship that it seems wrong to NOT include their memory in some way. And, of course, Grandma always loved a party.

  9. None of the grandparents survived to see my brother get married, so he and his wife made a kind of wedding family-tree board, with wedding photographs from the previous generations.

    Since it so happened that all of the grandmothers got married in suits (wartime!), my sister in law decided to wear one for the registry office so that their photo would match the theme. It became more about showing how their marriage was a continuation of a generational process. I felt that it was a nicer way to honour them to focus on their absence.

    I’m torn on how to do it at mine. I haven’t had long to plan and I don’t really want to dwell on death in the ceremony (I WILL cry). I’ll wear my grandmother’s pearls but I’m not sure what else to do to involve them.

    One of the problems (and I think part of why people respond badly to the idea) is that it’s not usually just you who misses them. You’re pulling the heartstrings of other guests as well and if you aren’t careful you could really upset someone.

    • For me, at least, days like weddings are just the type of days when the absence of loved ones is obvious in peoples’ minds, whether you acknowledge it or not. Tugging on heart strings or not, comments like “so-and-so would be so proud/happy/loved your significant other” are bound to pop up.

      That being said, you know your family and friends best (hopefully, if they’re at your wedding) and can gauge what level of remembrance would be appropriate.

    • kath, you make a great point about other guests – I’m struggling with this at the moment. I plan to make a short speech at my wedding and I want to mention my father, who died eight years ago (it’ll be ten years at the wedding). My mother believes that all grief and personal feelings should be kept private, which is absolutely fair enough, but I . . . am a little different in that regard :p I want to mention my father in a way that won’t be upsetting for my mother, but that also allows me to honour him.

      I have decided that I’ll tell her ahead of time what I’m going to say and exactly how many sentences of the speech will be about him, so she can brace herself, be prepared, and when I mention him first, she won’t be thinking ‘Oh, how long is this going to last? Can I keep it together?’ She’ll know that this will be over in thirty seconds and then there will be CAKE.

      I’m also going to keep it quite upbeat and focus on how much he would have enjoyed meeting so many new people and catching up with the family (he was very sociable and good fun, my mother is an introvert, I’m more like him). But I am crafting a lot of this with my mother’s feelings in mind, because in my particular family dynamic, that’s what works for me. I think every grieving bride or groom has to find their own way.

      • I think that it’s a good idea that you are preparing yourself and your mother for that moment. Grieving is a constant process and even if you didn’t say something about your father in your speech you may become overwhelmed at one point or another that day by feelings of grief (or joyful remembrance). In my family we openly talk about my mother. My cousins tell stories to their kids about my mom and they know who she is (they can pick her out in pictures, they water the flowers in the cemetery) even though she passed away years before any of them were born. When I have children, I will also do this with mine. At one of my cousin’s weddings the photographer saw my sister’s tattoo in memory of our mom and she asked about it. That led to a group hug between me and my sister and our cousin and some other relatives. My cousin probably had no plan to publicly remember my mother that day but that moment was spontaneous and resulted in all of us crying (which is perfectly ok).

  10. My dad passed away a few months after I got engaged, and even though I knew it might make me cry I wanted to honor him in our wedding ceremony. I asked my mom if I could have one of his old handkerchiefs to wrap around my bouquet. I thought she’d forgotten about it because she didn’t give it to me in time to have my rad bridesmaids incorporate it into the bouquet they were frantically arranging an hour before we went to the venue.

    Then, during the ring-warming portion of the ceremony, as our wedding bands were passed among my family members, my mom took the handkerchief out of her purse. She placed the rings in it to hand them to my new in-laws. (Crap, now I’m crying as I type this…in my cubicle at work…don’t tell the boss).

    When the rings came back to the celebrant at the front of the room, they were wrapped in not only my dad’s soft, worn handkerchief, but also a tiny scrap of fabric from a baby dress I’d once worn–a token from my grandma (who was there for the wedding, but died a few months later). If not for the throat-clearing trick I would have burst into tears right there.

    Very few of our guests understood the significance of the handkerchief, so it wasn’t a public recognition of my dad. But I think it was more meaningful for just close family to see and feel something of his that only we shared.

  11. My mother was diagnosed with cancer last year, and the doctors told her that this passed Christmas was most likely her last. I’m just praying I have her around long enough for her to enjoy the wedding day she helped make a reality. I’m honoring all my passed loved ones through baby’s breath on every table. I’m also honoring my childhood dog by wearing her collar (which happens to be blue, as her name was Blue) around my ankle.

    Your post was beautiful, and had me in tears. Thank you.

  12. My mom passed away five years before my wedding, and never got to meet my husband. By then my husband and I had both lost all of our grandparents as well.

    Our venue had this amazing fireplace with built in bookshelves on either side, and we turned those shelves into our Wedding Wall. We put up the wedding photos of every guest who would give us one, and sometimes the anniversary photos were right beside them. We had anniversary photos from one year all the way up to seventy! It was really fantastic – a way to honor those we’d lost as well as those we still have with us. I can’t even look at the photos of the Wall without tears.

    My amazing aunt also made my bouquet, and she tied into it the wedding rings of my mother, my maternal grandmother, and both of my maternal great-grandmothers.

    The bouquet was very personal to me, but that Wedding Wall had folks talking all night – it was quite the unexpected success. Bonus points for seeing some truly awesome vintage wedding gowns. Who knew the family had so much style? 🙂

  13. Your post was beautiful and your mother sounds amazing. My mother passed 10 years ago and never met my husband, but I know she would have been over the moon. We included a section in our otherwise humorous program to acknowledge “lost loved ones dearly missed”. She would have turned 60 a few weeks before our wedding, so we had the DJ acknowledge that and how she would have been tearing up the dance floor when he introduced our song dedication – her favorite – Take it to the Limit by the Eagles. I wanted it to feel celebratory of how amazing she was. I would definitely recommend giving close loved ones a heads up right before any type of dedication. Even though my dad knew we were going to do it, he didn’t know when exactly or what song, and he had a very hard time keeping it together. It’s the only thing I wish I would have handled differently. Big hugs to you!

  14. My dad passed away a year and half ago, and it completely changed the tone of wedding planning for me.

    My fiancĂ© and I have been dating since college. We just had our ten year anniversary. So we’re now both entering our 30s, and are planning for a 12.13.14 wedding in Hawai’i (that’s where I’m from) at the end of the year. We’ve felt pressure to get married pretty much since college graduation (when we were both still 21)! So over the years, we pushed back and made the decision to get married when we felt we were both mature enough and ready to handle the commitment. And we embraced the advice of “You have the rest of your lives to be married! Just enjoy the moment!” So we did, but in the process of doing so, we had the commitment to care for and love each other (as though we had already been married). But of course, we knew it meant a lot to our traditional families that we make it “official”. So to my surprise, my fiancĂ© officially asked my dad for my hand in marriage when he came to visit my family during Thanksgiving in 2011. My dad was so happy, he started talking about venues already. But of course, I had to wait for my proposal… whenever it would be. Long story short, my fiancĂ© planned two proposals (one in February 2012 and another in May 2012)… both which didn’t work out. It just wasn’t mean to be. Then in June 2012, my dad unexpectedly passed away. I left my job in LA, and temporarily moved back home to Hawai’i to be with my family. On December 1, 2012, my fiancĂ© surprised me by flying to Hawai’i, hiding at my sisters’ apartment, then proposing to me at a family photo shoot/scavenger hunt at the beach (if you’re interested, full proposal story here: http://www.121314wedding.com/2/post/2013/12/engagement-versary-the-proposal.html). We decided that I wasn’t ready to plan as I was still grieving, so we planned for a long engagement… and we decided on 12.13.14 to honor his mom (that’s her birthday), who had passed away in 2006.

    I’m wedding planning now, and was trying to think of several ways to incorporate my dad and my fiancĂ©’s mom in the ceremony and reception. As of right now, I’m thinking of doing the following: having my dad’s brothers walk me down the aisle, attaching a locket w/my dad’s photo to my shoes so he can “walk me down the aisle”, visiting my dad’s gravesite before the ceremony to get his blessing, saving my dad and mother-in-law seats at the reception and ceremony, dedicating a moment for all guests to light a candle at the wedding to honor those celebrating with us we can’t see, and a memorial table/wall of photos. It seems like a lot now that I type it out, but I can’t imagine not involving our parents. If you have any other ideas, please let me know. I’m thinking if there are any respectful ways to maybe bring some of my mother-in-law’s ashes to Hawai’i so she can be there with us. Hugs to all you other brides out there. I was bawling reading through the stories above. xoxo

  15. @Cellistec – I love the handkerchief idea! I just teared up, thinking how many hankies I’ve helped my dad iron along with his uniform for work.

    @smallblondeone – More often than not, WIC or the more “traditional” wedding blogs would recommend postponing the wedding — which is a harsh way of assuming that we would feel better in x number of months.

    I am going to honour my dad by playing music with family (and friends). I was really looking forward to dancing with my dad; we’ve only danced together once at my brother’s Grade 12 graduation. I’m still very sad about not having a dance, in my wedding dress, with him — with a gorgeous Rocky Mountains view — and to play music with him. If anyone inspired me how to diffuse people by smiling more often and develop a love for playing music, it would be my father.

    The loss is still very fresh; he passed on November 3, 2013 from heart attack. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. I had to fly home 12,000 miles to fetch him from the mortuary.

    My dad was supposed to play the bass or rhythm guitar while I were to play the piano. :-‘(

    I will be encouraging my brother to sing with us: “Tears in Heaven”. He won’t have to sing alone — my uncle’s suggestion. My uncle (dad’s closest brother) plays lead guitar. My aunt (dad’s sister) will also accompany us with singing. I can get my FH to play rhythm guitar (which was often my dad’s place); I could learn it on my bass guitar — or play accompanying chords/bass-lines on the electric piano. FH’s best man might play drums. Actually, I’ve just sent my brother international text messages via WhatsApp that we could announce something like, “This is dedicated to the memories of those who will forever be in our hearts.”

    My brother agrees that the family band is the best way we could honour my dad — as well as any relatives/friends who have passed on. Alongside with that, FH will do a toast to my dad. My dad made a huge impact on both our lives. It’s only fitting.

    However, I will be skipping adding charms to my bouquet. (Here’s me secretly hoping for a rainbow or a sun dog to show up on my wedding day) I feel that a slideshow of pictures of both our childhoods would be a nicer touch. Then, have a slide that goes in the end: “In Loving Memory of”.

    The bride isn’t the only one who is going to be grieving. My mother will be. My brother will be. My FH will be. My future FIL will be missing his parents. We’re gradually losing FH’s Opa and FH’s uncle’s wife to cancer. We’re a family and damn, as sad as losing my father is, it’s made me realize what the important things are. Life is short, but life goes on. It’s very poetic to celebrate with family because both families could use a celebration to remember that life is fragile.

    • I’m sorry for your lose. In response to your comment about WIC or more traditional wedding blogs recommending postponing your wedding after the death of a close family member: sometimes you just need to celebrate. My mom became ill very suddenly while my cousin was planning her wedding (my mom was very close to this cousin and very close to my aunt/her sister – the mother of the bride). Just as my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my cousin was debating between an outdoor wedding and a church wedding, and my aunt said “I think we all need a little bit of church right now.” While my mom was sick we were hopeful that she would make it to my cousin’s wedding and we were discussing potential travel arrangements with my mom’s doctors (the wedding was quite a distance from where we lived so my mom would have to fly and have medical supervision while at the wedding). Unfortunately, my mom passed away a month before my cousin’s wedding. My mother’s illness took attention away from my cousin before her wedding but her wedding also gave us a much needed distraction.

    • My dad passed unexpectedly from a heart attack too, but in summer of 2012. I’m sorry for your loss. Hugs. I love your approach in trying to bring the family together to be closer through a celebration of life and love. Best of luck to you.

  16. I lost my parents a few years ago and I am getting married next month. Instead of the traditional wedding where you have bridesmaids and groomsmen walk together down the aisle, my siblings are going to line the aisle. As I walk up, they are each going to hand me a flower to make up a small and unique bouquet. This is the best way I could find to replace not having a father to give me away. Hope you come up with a creative idea that works beautifully for you.

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