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.