While there are of course no words or actions to make up for the absence of a parent, family member or friend on such a monumental occasion, there are ways of honouring their memories which can help couples and guests to enjoy the day while also taking time to reflect.
1. Display their photo(s) on a table with your wedding guest book
The way most couples choose to remember lost loved ones on their wedding day is usually with a display of framed photographs on a table where guests can come to reflect as they enter the ceremony or reception venue. It's a nice idea to pop the photos beside the guest book so that guests can see them as they add their best wishes to the couple with the memories of their loved ones in mind.
2. Save a seat at your ceremony
A beautiful idea for the ceremony is to reserve a place where your loved one would have been seated. A large framed photo along with an item that would remind people of them is a nice way to feel them there without having to say anything.
3. Carry a photo locket on your bouquet or button hole, cufflinks or shoes
Brides and grooms in the past have come up with some amazing ways to hold their dearest near them on their big day, whether through the addition of a gorgeous photo locket on a bouquet or a photo pocket watch on a suit. Some brides who had lost their father before their wedding have pinned tiny photo lockets to the back of their shoes as a way to 'walk' down the aisle with their dad on the day.
4. Wear a piece of their jewellery
Wearing something that belonged to a loved one, or incorporating some of their jewellery or clothing into a wedding outfit is a wonderful way to keep their memory alive on the big day. Wearing a ring or a watch, or having a piece of their wedding dress incorporated into the bride's gown, are all wonderful ways to carry a loved one with you as you enjoy the celebrations.
5. Make a toast with their favourite tipple
No doubt your lost loved ones will be mentioned in the wedding speeches, but if it's possible, a toast to their memories using their favourite tipple is a lovely way to allow everyone a moment to consider someone who has passed. Remember it doesn't have to be alcohol! A glass of cidona, orange, hot water and lemon or whatever beverage you most associate with your loved one will go down equally well!
6. Serve their signature dish as part of the wedding meal
Even the worst cooks among us have a signature dish, and while you maybe don't want to serve beans on toast as your main for your fancy wedding celebrations, finding a way to incorporate the dish your loved one is most famous for can be a fun way to honour their memory. Think of your canapés as a way to include something a bit different ie 'Chicken skewers with Dad's famous bread sauce', 'Mam's crowd-pleasing pigs in blankets' or serve up 'Nan's comforting Christmas trifle' as part of your dessert.
7. Light a candle in their memory
Keep a candle burning from the ceremony to the night in memory of your loved ones, surrounded by photos of them where guests can come to reflect throughout the celebrations.
8. Hold a 'special' dance in their honour
Not having someone there for specific traditions can be very difficult, and many people who have lost a father will know the idea of not having a father-daughter dance is a tough one to accept. Holding a special dance in honour of a lost loved one can be a lovely way to honour their memory after the traditional first dance, if you choose to have one, and how you go about it is all up to you. Pop on their favourite showband hit and get everyone jiving on the floor or ask a friend or relative or siblings to stand in for somebody for a slow dance.
9. Donate to their favourite charity in lieu of favours - If your loved one had a special charity they liked to donate to, you can incorporate this into your day by donating to the charity. Many people opt to do this for charities in lieu of traditional favours, and some of the bigger Irish charities can supplier cards to display informing guests of the couple's wishes.
10. Take a moment out
Simply taking a designated moment in the morning or evening to think about the people who should have been there could help to get through the day and celebrate with them in mind. Take a moment to yourself away from guests to reflect in your own personal way, whether that's saying a few words, thinking quietly, writing, drawing or however else you like to remember your lost loved one.