Wedding Ceremonies are one of the happiest days in a couples life, filled with hopes and dreams for the future. They also give us a chance to look back at the past and the people who helped get us to where we are, which can sometimes make them tinged with sadness for various reasons.

A Bride may no longer have her Father there to walk her down the aisle, if he has died, and it can be a long emotional walk on an otherwise happy occasion.

When meeting a to be wed couple as a Celebrant, they may tell you their story and be full of emotion when in a personal setting, but prefer not to be like that on their wedding day in public. Many choose to remember their absent loved ones with a visual effect, which can be done in many ways, with some couples being so creative too!


Lighting a Candle of Remembrance can be done at any part of the Ceremony, or even a wee toast to the deceased when drinking from the Quaich can be a beautiful gesture. Especially if they enjoyed a wee nip of whisky themselves. (Only on a special occasion like today of course!)

A favourite Grandmother could be remembered by wearing a piece of her jewellery, or some Brides add a photograph charm, or special token in remembrance of them to their bridal bouquet. Using a Grandfather’s tie or scarf during a Handfasting Ceremony, is not only personal for the couple, but it is also a beautiful keepsake and reminder of their loved one. Personalised cufflinks may be worn by a Groom, with a photo remembering someone close to them. This can also be gifted to him on the wedding morning, from their partner.


Brooch on bouquet from a Bride’s Great Grandmother

Remembrance trees are popular, where you can add photographs of the deceased, this can then be placed in a prominent position for the Ceremony or on the table with the Wedding Guest Book. This gives everyone the opportunity to take a moment to remember their absent loved ones who are missed on such a special occasion.

I recently conducted a wedding ceremony that was brought forward into 2020. The Bride and Groom were due to be married in 2021 but the Bride’s Father was given the devastating news that he was terminally ill and only had weeks to live. The Bride’s only wish was for her Father to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, and her Father and family were determined to make it happen. It was a very moving and touching moment when the Bride and her very proud dad walked down the aisle that day. One week later sadly, he passed away. He will be fondly remembered by all, and there is much comfort from knowing he was able to be a part of his daughter and new son-in-law’s Ceremony.

Grief can catch a person off guard, but on a couple’s Wedding Day absent family and friends can be respectfully remembered, with some planning, so that they bring a smile of remembrance rather than a thought tinged with sadness. Often small elements that you don’t see, can bring a loved one to heart and mind for the couple, reassuring them everyone was included on their big day.


Once the Candles are lit, the words are spoken, and maybe a tear or two shed, you are able to move on with the Ceremony, with gratitude, hope and happiness for the future.

It is not always easy, as a Celebrant when a sad story has been shared with you, when getting to know your couple. Or when you are aware of what a couple may be going through emotionally at that time. However, you are always privileged to be a part of their story. Reflecting on the happy smiles, the beautiful day, and the celebration of life. Filled often with tears, but tears of joy!

By Mo Ackroyd

By Mo Ackroyd
Photo Credit: Geebz Photography


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