Weddings are joyous events, but they can also bring bittersweet thoughts of friends and relatives who have passed away. After all, we know that they would be there on the Big Day if they could, and their absence is keenly felt.
That’s why many couples choose to memorialize the dearly departed in their wedding programs. This could include a short statement in remembrance of all loved ones who have passed, a list of names, or a saying (poem, verse, etc.) that captures the feelings of the bride and groom. Or it could be a mixture of these things.
While it’s always best to speak (or write) from the heart when memorializing people, finding the right words isn’t always easy. Your own feelings and the need to be sensitive toward others can complicate things. This guide will help you come up with appropriate wording for your situation.
Wedding Program Memorial Tips
When seeking inspiration for their own wedding programs, most people immediately begin looking at examples. But before you get too far, it’s a good idea to consider a few general points:
1. Ask yourself whether you need a separate section. In many cases, it makes more sense to honor the dead in the Thank You section of the program. Thank You sections come in different forms, but many of them speak about faith and family, making them a natural spot for mentioning deceased loved ones.
2. For a list of names, start with “In Loving Memory Of” or a similar phrase. The simplest approach is to list the names of the people you want to memorialize in the wedding ceremony program. In this case, all you really need is to start the section with a solemn phrase such as “In Memory Of” or “Never to be Forgotten.”
3. Be inclusive. While you don’t need to list every deceased relative of the bride and groom, you do want to be on guard against any conspicuous omissions. For example, if you’re listing a deceased member of the groom’s immediate family, it would be inappropriate not to also list someone who was closely related to the bride. If you have particularly sensitive issues to deal with in your families, you may want to opt for general wording that doesn’t list anyone by name.
4. Don’t do it all on the wedding program. There are many ways to pay tribute to lost loved ones at a wedding. If you have trouble accomplishing everything you want to do on the program, consider other gestures to honor the passed. A few examples include:
- Setting up a “shrine” with pictures of the loved ones
- Mentioning the deceased during the ceremony
- Leaving one seat empty, possibly with a rose symbolizing the departed’s presence
- Incorporating family heirlooms into the ceremony
If you use symbolism to memorialize loved ones, you can call attention to it during the ceremony or in the program. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it private either.
Here are a few examples of memorial wording to inspire you:
And other loved ones who could not be here today, but are with us in spirit.
On this joyous day, we remember those loved ones who could not be with us. We feel your presence in our hearts.
On this day of celebration, our thoughts are also with loved ones who have passed on and could not be here. May their presence grace our hearts today, and every day of our marriage.
On this day, we remember Judith Hagan, grandmother of Stacey, and Kyle Dunworth, brother of Evan. To all our loved ones who could not be here today, we love you and will always hold you dear in our hearts.
A single red rose has been placed on the altar to symbolize the spiritual presence of Grace’s father Dean. A single white rose has been placed in a seat in the front row to symbolize all the loved ones who could not be here today.