Skip to main content

30 Sweet Ways to Honour a Deceased Loved One at Your Wedding

There are so many ‘in loving memory’ wedding ideas that you can incorporate into your big day – whether you want to do something public or private, here are our unique and thoughtful ideas

A wicker chair with an arrangement of flowers on it and a reserved sign in memory of the mother of the bride

Modern weddings are all about doing things your own way, and making things as personal as you want them to be. Your wedding is about joy and commitment, but it’s completely natural to feel loss of beloved family members of friends that you wish were there to celebrate with you. Remembering loved ones at a wedding is a special way to honour those that can’t be with you, and there are many wedding memorial ideas that you can incorporate.

There’s no right or wrong way to acknowledge a much-loved friend or relative that has passed – it is your day and you must do what feels right and appropriate. There are various personal and meaningful ways to honour a deceased loved one at your wedding. The approach you take can range from a public tribute to a subtle, private acknowledgment.

You can pay homage to them in your ceremony or at the reception, or you might choose to do something privately in the run-up to the wedding – do whatever brings you the most comfort. Here are some of our favourite ideas:

How to Honour the Dead at a Wedding

Some couples will have a physical tribute at the wedding, possibly a photo collection or a memorial table. “Incorporate photos of your loved ones, with signage to say something simple, such as ‘those who can’t be with us’ or ‘to loved ones we have lost’. Keep it accessible for guests, but also not too imposing, in case it can cause upset,” says wedding planner, Hannah Rose of Hannah Rose Weddings.

“There are other options to keep the memory subtle. You could have a photo of them in a small, keyring-sized frame attached to your bouquet, or for the groom, a photo in their inside pocket, so that person is with you when you are at the top of the aisle/walking down the aisle. Always have a chat about what you would like to do as a couple first, so as not to cause any upset on the day. It’s lovely to remember people, but you also want to feel happy and content on your day.”

Another idea is to include something in your wedding day attire that keeps the memory of your loved one close at all times. Maybe a pocked square that belonged to them, or some fabric from their favourite item of clothing incorporated into a gown. You can also get something embroidered into the lining of a suit, a dress or a veil.

“Celebrating love is not just about the moments we share with those around us, but also those who remain forever in our hearts. Crafting bespoke wedding veils is my canvas for weaving these cherished memories into beautiful and tangible tributes. From delicate blooms reminiscent of a loved one's favourite flower, to the elegant script of a meaningful phrase, each stitch is a silent homage to their presence,” says Rebecca Anne of Rebecca Anne Designs

“Brides often entrust me with personal mementos – birthday cards, Christmas greetings, or heartfelt post-it notes adorned with handwritten words – precious keepsakes filled with love and sentiment. I find profound fulfilment in creating veils that honour the spirit of those who cannot be with us physically, and translating handwritten notes into threads of love is such a meaningful way of personalising your veil. It's a deeply personal journey, one that I am always privileged to be a part of.”

If you don’t want to have a physical memorial, you can pay tribute in a speech or saying some thoughtful words. You could even play their favourite song as some point on the day. “Most couples will simply remember their lost ones during the toast,” says Hannah Rose. "Another alternative is to have a toast at perhaps the place they lay to rest or a spot with reminds you of them the week prior to the wedding day.”

Before making a decision, it's important to think about several factors that might influence your choice:

  • The relationship the deceased had with you and your partner.
  • The timing of your wedding – if it is close to the date of the passing, some tributes may be challenging.
  • What those who were closest to the deceased are comfortable with (involve them in discussions, as some may be particularly sensitive to reminders of loss).

We have found some unique and thoughtful wedding memorial ideas that you might like to include in your wedding. Some of these might feel perfect for you, and others may not feel quite right. Take your time in deciding your way to remembering loved ones at your wedding, and discuss your plans with your nearest and dearest. 

Wedding Memorial Ideas: The Ceremony

If you want to honour your loved one at your ceremony, there are many remembrance wedding ideas you can choose from. You can include a physical memorial or nod to their honour through words or songs. 

1. Have the Celebrant Say Some Words

Many remembrance wedding ideas include saying something to honour your loved one. Sometimes this may feel too emotional to do yourself – and if this is the case, then you can ask your celebrant / priest / officiant to do this on your behalf. They could mention them at any point that you feel appropriate, and you could even pen something for them to read. It could be a special memory, or simply to say you wish they were there.

2. Reserve a Seat at the Ceremony

chair dresses with special sign and floral arrangement remembrance wedding ideas

While it may feel sad to see an empty chair where they would have been sitting, you could dress a chair as a beautiful honour. Maybe with a photo of them, or a special sign. You could even dress it with a bouquet similar to what the bridal party is holding. You can dress it up as much as you like, or just have something simple if you want to keep it more low key.

3. Include Them in Your Order of Service

The inside front or back page of your ceremony programme is the ideal place for including a message in your loved one’s honour. You can write something heartfelt, or you could include a poem, quote from a book or religious passage – and you could add a photo of them, too. This gives all of your guests a chance to read the tribute in their own time and keep them in their thoughts through the day.

4. Light a Candle

Wedding Memorial Ideas of a White memorial candle with personalised writing

One of the more traditional wedding memorial ideas is to light a candle of remembrance. It would be lovely to include this in your ceremony, and would nod to how brightly your memory of them shines. You can have a simple candle, or if you wanted to, you could buy a personalised candle – your loved one’s have their name on the candle, and maybe your wedding date. You can keep the candle jar afterwards as a special memento, too. You can have the candle lit before the ceremony starts, or you can work with your officiant to schedule a special time in the proceedings for you to light it yourselves.

5. Choose a Reading

If you are having readings as part of your ceremony, why not dedicate a special wedding reading to them. You could select a passage you know they would like, or maybe a poem that reminds you of them. We adore these words from an untitled works by writer R.M. Drake:

“You will be the clouds
 and I will be the sky, you will be the ocean 
and I will be the shore, you will be the trees 
and I will be the wind. Whatever we are, you and I will always collide.”

Wedding Memorial Ideas: Items to Wear 

If you want to include a really personal memorial, you could consider incorporating your remembrance wedding ideas into your outfit or as part of your ensemble. You could easily slip a photo or cherished note into your pocket, but there are many other more detailed options.

6. Bespoke Embroidery 

remembrance wedding ideas bespoke embroidery

We already discussed the options for having some special embroidery on your wedding veil, but there are so many other options to consider. Many bridal boutiques will help you to include a message or small outline-picture on your dress – and the same goes for suits. You could even have a personalised pocket square.

Specialists can copy handwriting and notes, or create motifs that feel representative to you. A great idea is to have your special embroidery created on a patch, which can be located anywhere you like. The train of your dress maybe, or the inside pocket of a jacket perhaps.

7. Wear a Family Heirloom

Do you have something that has been left to you by your loved one, or a gift that they gave to you? Maybe you could borrow an item for the day? This is one way to keep them with you for the whole day, from ceremony to the end of the night. Jewellery would be ideal, or a watch perhaps. Alternatively, do you have a pocket square of theirs, or a handkerchief you can keep in your pocket? 

8. Incorporate Their Favourite Flowers

emembrance wedding ideas favourite flowers bouquet in bright colours

Did your loved one have a favourite flower? One of our favourite wedding memorial ideas is honouring them by including something flowers they really adored in your wedding. Maybe you could have the flower in your bouquet, or you could arrange a special floral buttonhole with a stem of the bloom.

Perhaps you could use the flower of their birth month if that feels more special to you. Speak to your florist who will be able to help with ideas and how easy it is to get that type of flower at the time of the year your wedding is being held.

9. Add a Keepsake to Your Bouquet

Wedding memorial ideas keepsake for bouquet in shape of angel wing

Another ideal for your florals – if you are carrying a bouquet, you could add a charm so they are walking down the aisle with you. You could opt for a locked or photo charm, or even a symbol of something that you remember them by – such as a feather or an angel wing charm.

10. Wear Their Favourite Scent

A unique wedding memorial idea is to wear their favourite aftershave or perfume on the day. Not everyone will know the meaning of the scent, so it is one way to keep things private if you so wish. Plus, if you buy a bottle you’ll get to have happy reminders of your friend or family member in the future whenever you spritz it on.

Memory Table Ideas for Your Wedding

You can create a special space at your reception, a table is ideal, and you can fill it with with framed photos, sentimental objects and keepsakes of the person you are honouring. You can make this as large or small as you like, and it can be low key or filled to the brim. Remember to do what feels appropriate to you. 

11. Set Up a Special Space

Your table can be up front or kept in a low-key area – and the size totally depends on what you want to do with it. Some people want to include a floral display, which is lovely, or you could just have a simple photo and a candle. It may be something you want at your reception for just the wedding breakfast and speeches, but can be removed for later in the evening if you so wish.

12. A Special Piece of Art

memory table ideas for wedding custom art of angel and bride

One of our favourite wedding memorial ideas for a table is getting a piece of art made for the occasion. You can have something hand illustrated, or you can get something that is digitally hand finished that shows you and your loved one. It’s gorgeous honour for the day, and something extra special for you to keep afterwards.

13. A Collection of Photos

There may be more than one person you want to honour on your special day, and a really simple but beautiful ideal is to have photos of them all on you memory table. You could coordinate the photo frames, or you could pick a mix of styles for a more whimsical look – or choose frames in different colours that you know that individual person would have loved.

14. A Photo Backdrop

memory table ideas for wedding collection of photos on string for backdrop

If you want your table to have a floral display or candles, then you could create a backdrop that includes images of your loved ones. You could place frames on the wall, create a collage or have a selection pinned on strings.

This would also look great if hung outdoors or at the entrance, and gives you the opportunity to have multiple images of your loved one in your wedding memorial, or of the different people you want to honour.

15. A Memory Tree

Custom Tree of Life Photo Wall Light Wedding Memorial Table Idea

A similar idea would be to have a pretty memory tree, decorated with lights and a collection of small snaps. Again, this is a pretty keepsake for the future, but would be an extra special wedding memorial idea for your reception.

16. A Subtle Sign

Remembering loved ones at wedding personal note in frame

Having images and a big display isn’t the right choice for everyone. If you want something subtle, but that’s still beautiful, then you could opt for a written or printed sign with a few words and your loved one’s name. You can put this in a frame of your choice and have it on a memorial table or even on the head table with you if you want the tribute close by.

Wedding Memorial Ideas: Unique Touches

If you don’t like the idea of a memorial table, then there are so many other ways of remembering loved ones at your wedding reception. There are tributes in speeches, to playing music they loved, and even offering drinks or favourite food items you know they would have really enjoyed. 

17. Play Their Favourite Song

If your loved one adored dancing, or there was a piece of music or song that reminds you of them, then you can absolutely include this at your wedding reception. You could have it playing at a time when you are greeting guests or as part of the dancing or celebrations in the evening.

You can say a few words before the song is played, or keep it as a personal touch that just you and your partner know about. If you want to make it a more prominent part of the day, you could get your band to announce that the song is dedicated to the special person, and invite your guests to join you on the dance floor to honour them.

18. Incorporate Their Favourite Drink

Remembering loved ones at wedding with cocktail at the wedding bar

If you are serving drinks or having a cocktail hour, then why not serve a drink you know they would have really enjoyed. Did they have a signature cocktail perhaps? Or was there a tipple they were known for drinking? You could even have a sign at the bar with a note saying: “share one of their favourite drinks with us”.

19. Wedding Favours

An in memory wedding favour detailing a donation to a cancer charity in memory of the mother of the bride

If you are looking for really special wedding memorial ideas, then we adore the thought of offering a wedding favour in honour of them. You could offer jars of their favourite sweets, or perhaps miniature bottles of their favourite drink. We also love charity wedding favours, where donations are made in that person’s honour, and then guests get a card or pin in tribute to this.

20. Honour Them in the Speeches

Remembering loved ones at wedding engraved glasses

You could say a few words in your speech to remember them on the day, or you could ask one of your wedding party to pay homage to them. If it feels too emtional for you to do this, you could ask for the words  – “we are thinking of those we wish were here”– to be said, and even raise a glass to them that has been specially engraved with their name or a meaningful few words.

20. Give a Special Toast

As well as including them in your speech, you could simply raise a toast to your loved one. You or one of the wedding party could raise the toast with a few personal words, or you could embrace a famous and meaningful quote.

Wedding Memorial Ideas: Ideas for Toasts

We adore these remembrance wedding ideas – short toasts and quotes to honour your loved one at your reception:

  • “There are no good-byes, where ever you'll be, you'll be in my heart.
  • “Life is eternal and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
  • “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie the Pooh
  •  “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
  •  “Friends come into our lives and friends leave our lives. But friends never leave our hearts. And best friends always get to stay in the best places in our hearts.” 
  • “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
  • “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.” 
  • “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” 
  • “Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realise it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.”
  • “Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.”

If you want more ideas for a toast, we've rounded up some of the best wedding toasts to inspire you.