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Dealing with Death at a Wedding

Warning: you may find the content of this blog upsetting

I’ve seen this topic pop up a bit on various forums recently, so thought I’d throw my two cents in. Bear with me while I outline my journey. When I got married there were a couple of grandparents who had passed away, but overall the core people of our family and friends were present. 

There was the ‘token’ mention of the grandparents in the ‘father of the bride speech’ but other than that nothing additional was done; and I was ok with that. ​

Roll forward a few years and now it’s my little brother’s turn, and on his special day we will be missing one key person; our dad. This wedding will be our first significant milestone without him and while it will be an amazing wedding, it will also be bittersweet.

Dealing with someone you have lost is challenging at any time; add a wedding day into that picture and things can become complicated very quickly. There can be an unforeseen pressure that arise when deciding how to address a passed loved one/s memory on your wedding day (or whether you even address it at all). And to top it all off everyone (rightly or wrongly) has an opinion!

To hopefully help you navigate this process as either the couple or a guest I want to highlight the points below:

Have respect One thing I have learnt about grief is that everyone experiences it differently and sometimes it has no rhyme or reason. Just as you would want someone to respect you, you need to respect others. You cannot control other people’s thoughts and feelings; and there is bound to be differing opinions, but how you deal with these are key.

The Don’ts

Do not tell people what to do. Do not say ‘if you if do it this way or that then I’m not coming’Do not make it all about you (unless you are the couple, then it’s all about you!) The Do’s Make suggestions; sometimes people want to do something for their loved ones but don’t know how, so suggestions are often welcomed and appreciated. Focus on the big picture and intention for the day Support your family and friends through this process, it’s not easy!Respect individual feelings If you are the couple, do not be bullied in to doing something that you are not comfortable with. It will be an emotionally charged day as it is, so it is up to you to decide what is best for you on your special day. If you are a guest, family or friend remember that ultimately it is the couples call with how they approach this, and it is your job to respect this.

You are not going to keep everyone happy To the couples out there - accept that you are not going to keep everyone happy. There is always someone who cannot help themselves and voice their opinion a little bit louder than others; and there will always be someone who is not happy with what you decide. Ultimately I think it is about balance and being at peace with what you decide to do.

There is no right or wrong way  Whether you decide to go all out and have your loved one’s memory present throughout the day, or you decide to keep it simple with a little mention – just remember that it will be perfect no matter what! Go with what your heart tells you.

If you are wanting to honor the memory of your loved one/s in your day but are struggling with ideas, Pinterest is great for brainstorming options.

You can start by checking out my Pinterest board and seeing if you can find the perfect option for you!

Make your own tribute  Sometimes its hard being on the sideline; as a guest (be it family or friend) you are often on the sideline at a wedding.

Being on the sideline can be tough when you feel passionate about something, and sometimes it is difficult to understand and accept when something is done differently from how you would do it.

While this blog is geared to what is best for the couple on their big day, don’t think I have forgotten you ‘sideliners’ too. The key is to ‘keep yourself safe’. Listen to what you’re feeling and then find your own way to honor those feelings. If you feel that you would like to have a tribute and you know that the couple are not wanting to do anything then make a personal tribute yourself. Note I am NOT meaning something that will encroach on the couples wedding day and go against their wishes, I am meaning something personal like a photograph pinned to the inside of your jacket.  

For me, my memorial will be the tattoo I have of my dad’s fingerprint on my wrist. He is with me every day and he will be right by my side on the day of my brother’s wedding too :-) So remember… kind to one another and do what’s right for you!

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