Memorial Photo Table
Probably the most common memorial at receptions is a photo table. This can incorporate just photos of the person who died that you are honoring, or it can be a family history table with old photos of weddings from both the bride and groom’s families. These tables are often a highlight of a cocktail hour. It can be as small or as large as you wish. Like the table at my friend Christine’s wedding (below) you may wish to add a great quote. You could also write something of your own, letting guests know that the table is a memorial.
Donation In Lieu of Favors
A tradition that I love is that of making a donation in lieu of wedding favors. As someone with a drawer full of cute wedding favors that I have no use for, but can’t bring myself to throw away, I am always excited when a couple goes this route. This can also be a great way to honor someone you have lost. When deciding on your charity to donate to, pick something that is connected to that person – if they loved animals, perhaps pick a local animal shelter. If they loved art, pick a charity related to keeping the arts in schools. You get the idea. The other possibility is to pick a charity related to their illness or other cause of death. This could be anything from a cancer charity, other disease charity, the American Heart Association, a substance abuse organization, suicide prevention organization, a local hospice, etc. The message on the favor card can explain the connection:
“Today the bride and groom honor and remember the groom’s mother, Barbara Jones. Barbara was a lover of gardening, who grew her own herbs, vegetables, and beautiful flowers. In lieu of favors a donation has been made to the Baltimore Urban Gardening program, a non-profit offering education to students in the Baltimore City School System on sustainable urban gardening.”
Now, it turns out the “in lieu of favors” route is controversial (as ‘controversial’ as something can be in the world of wedding planning, I suppose). Who knew? If you want to delve into that controversy, a search on The Knot will take you to all sorts of opinionated forums about it. To give you a taste, comments included such gems as, “don’t pretend that [charitable donations] are a favor to your guests. Because they’re not. They’re a favor to the organization, and to you. You’re taking the money you’d spend on a little something for your guests and giving it to someone else. How do you figure that’s a favor for your guests? . . . please don’t in any, way, shape or form think that giving $$ to a charity is somehow doing something for me.” -Trix1223. I personally disagree and was shocked to learn this is a controversial topic, but I felt it only fair to give warning that you may offend some folks at your wedding if you go this route. I’d like to believe when connecting this gesture to a deceased loved one these critics might not feel the same way, but it is still a possibility. If you can’t live with that risk, stick with candy-covered almonds. If you’re like me, remind them that “in lieu favors” means IN PLACE of favors (i.e. we made a donation in place of favors, NOT we made a donation AS your favor), and point them toward the open bar.
Donation in Lieu of Gifts
The favor option can be easily translated for those who are asking guests to make a donation in lieu of gifts. As we creep slowly into our thirties more and more of our friends seem to be going this route, because one kitchen can only fit so many appliances. If a card is being included in the invitation stating no gifts and suggesting charities, a simple connection can be made to the person (or people) you have lost.
The bride and groom request your presence, joy and well-wishes, but please no gifts. In lieu of gifts the couple suggests a donation be made to one of the following charities, or a charity or your choice:
Hospice of the Chesapeake, that provided outstanding care to John’s grandmother, Betty.
The Alzheimer’s Association, in memory of Jane’s mother.
BARCS animal shelter, in memory of John’s sister, an avid animal lover and volunteer.
The mother-son dance and father-daughter dance can be tough to imagine replacing. Like walking down the aisle, I have seen many variations that usually involve a “stand in” for the person who died. Think outside the box - if you want to do a mother-daughter dance, or bride-sister dance, go for it. There are plenty of creative possibilities. A very cute option I saw recently was at a wedding where the bride had lost her dad. All the other men in her family stood up and one by one took turns dancing with her. Another great option is to scrap the traditional format – play a favorite song of the person who died and invite everyone onto the dance floor for a dance in memory of that person. This certainly doesn’t have to be a slow song – remember, you are recreating a tradition to honor and remember your loved one the way you want to. There are no rules. If your mom would have wanted everyone to dance to Brick House in her memory, then go for it! Finally, there is nothing wrong with skipping this tradition altogether. It is your special day- you make the rules. Don’t let anyone pressure you to recreate or force a tradition if you don’t want to.
Food, Flowers, and Colors
Not all ways of remembering someone on the big day have to be obvious to guests. You may want to include small, subtle things that remind you of your loved one. For example, when picking your cake you may decide to go with the cake that was a favorite of you mom, dad, or whoever you have lost. If your best friend who died loved crab cakes, maybe you want to include them on your menu. Consider picking your mom’s favorite flower to include in bouquets and centerpieces or picking your dad’s favorite color for your bridesmaid’s dresses. One or two small choices that reflect the person who died can be a great personal comfort on your big day. Other people may not know, but sometimes the most important memorials are those that are private.
These are just a few suggestions. We know there are a ton of other great ideas floating around, so leave a comment to let us know what you have done (or seen others do) to remember deceased loved ones at their weddings.
Taken from http://whatsyourgrief.com/wedding-after-a-death-remembering-at-receptions/