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    Tuesday
    Aug142012

    When NINE Minutes Really is Too Long

    This post has me completely at odds with myself so I need you, the readers, to weigh in on this tough topic. And as much as I don’t want to lay it all out there in my typical straightforward style, I feel like I HAVE to or else I would be doing you, bridey, and your guests a major disservice because as a planner, I have witnessed several awkward attempts at sensitivity around this, only to watch the guests shift uncomfortably in their seats. The topic? How to appropriately acknowledge the loss of a parent at your wedding.

    There is no doubt that losing a parent is probably among the most difficult and significant moments in anybody’s life. No matter the cause or the circumstance, death is final, and even on your wedding day, usually one of the happiest days of your life, there is a considerable part of you reeling in pain as you glance towards that empty seat. And as much as you push past the sadness of the obvious void, it is important to acknowledge the elephant in the room without turning a lovely toast into a nine-minute eulogy.

    I could go on and on about the several complete disasters I have watched unravel behind the gesture of a toast (even after several lengthy conversations about addressing the topic) or I could just offer a few suggestions. And because I know how difficult it is to even discuss acknowledging the deep sadness of the loss of a parent at your wedding, I have decided to take the high road… So, here are a few ways to respect the memory without bringing down the house:

    1. Consider leaving an empty seat in the front row during your ceremony. Lay a single flower across the chair as your way of reserving the space.

    2. A beautiful mention in your ceremony program is a great way to respect the memory without dulling the mood.

    3. If you are choosing to welcome or your guests, a brief (very brief) statement addressing the obvious missing soul will suffice. Your wedding is not a day to dwell on loss; it is about celebrating your future and happiness. So be careful not to go on and on… Because even though we miss them too, we don’t want a joyous occasion to suddenly feel like a memorial.

    The same goes for everybody else. Anybody toasting the happy couple should be conscientious that they don’t get too carried away recounting the “dark” and difficult time in your lives.

    4. En lieu of wedding favors, make a donation to the cause that took your loved one. Create a beautiful card for each table setting explaining your “favor”.

    5. Wear something that was theirs. It doesn’t even have to show. All that matters is that YOU know.

    Phew… I feel better. Do you?

    If you have seen, done or heard about any other beautiful tributes, please leave a comment. And for those of you struggling with this topic, please accept my deepest condolences.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    My dad passed away right before our wedding. Everyone knew about it and my family knew that my wedding day was going to be really, really difficult (he introduced my husband and I and forced us on our first date together). So we did small things - left an open seat next to my mom (and placed one of his signature bandanas on it), I wore a heart cut from one of his bandanas instead my dress, and the officiant spoke a bit about how we were all family now. That was it. I didn't want everyone else to have to sit through our pain (and frankly, I didn't want anyone's freaking pity). I'm wondering if some of this over-the-top memorializing is an unconscious way for people to get more attention?

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCris of Kiss My Tulle

    My dad passed away 4 months before our wedding... we had a special candle lit for him that burned the whole ceremony.

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAddie

    A hard topic and something we've seen handled both ways; your ideas have a lot of merit and we'll be sharing them with our couples should the need ever arise during planning.

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilo photo

    For Jewish weddings there's a prayer that can be said either in the more private ketubah signing part of the ceremony or during the wedding itself, or at the reception. I think working with the officiant to come up with something simple like that would help couples feel that they were acknowledging the loss without dwelling. It doesn't have to be a religious prayer, it could be a reading. Also, asking the band or DJ to play a favorite song of the deceased and announce that it's in memory/honor of him, her. If the song is a fun, fast paced song it can be very cathartic and kind without taking the mood of the wedding down.

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarta (GigMasters)

    Nicely written BB. Great suggestions and good job taking the (high) road less traveled on this one.

    A while ago, I came upon these teeny little photo frame shoe charms on Pinterest - the kind you might affix to a bridal bouquet wrap to remember someone. I thought the placement on shoes was an interesting, personal, subtle way for a lost parent or other loved one to still walk the bride down the aisle, so to speak. https://pinterest.com/pin/210261876323493169/

    Hey ladies,

    Sorry to be MIA today... busy busy busy... But, THANK YOU for your stories, suggestions and ideas. This is always a hard one because as delicate as I try to be with the surviving parent (usually the worst offender) or the bride/groom, it's still hard to say what I really want to say because it sounds so mean.

    I'm glad this one spoke to you... It speaks to me too...

    XO,
    BB

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBitchless Bride

    My husband's mother passed away before the wedding - while all the other centerpieces on the reception tables were quite large and extravagant, we had a bowl with floating gardenias in it - her favorite flower. It was a nice tribute.

    August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara {Burnett's Boards}

    My fiance and I have both lost our grandmothers. I, when I was very young, and he just 2 years ago. I am putting a picture of both of them in a frame charm and attaching it to my bouquet. We are also having the DJ do a brief dedication to them and playing a song for each of them while we are eating dinner.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

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