Those of us who've lost our parents know that we miss them most as we pass through life's important milestones. Our college graduations, first job promotions, and perhaps most important, our weddings, are the events we wish we could share with our mothers and fathers. For this reason, the question of whether, and how, to invoke memories of deceased loved ones on the wedding day is a very important issue for engaged couples. Wedding planners give a near-unanimous thumbs-down to the use of deceased parents' names on invitations, but beyond that, a couple has many choices.
Alicia M. Kramer, a wedding consultant in Atlanta says that for most church weddings, "the bride or groom would have an arrangement dedicated in their honor at the altar." She also recalls a bride who requested a "remembrance table" at the wedding site. "We had pictures of her parents, along with a small arrangement and two burning candles. On the back of the wedding program we placed the significance of the table so all the guests would understand what it symbolized. The photographer took a great picture of the bride and groom after the ceremony praying at the table." Vicki La Duke, owner of Victoria's Weddings & Events, in Portland, Oregon recalls, "One bride had loose stems of flowers carried by her flower girls that they placed in a vase." Later in the ceremony, the bride and groom placed the vase at the statue of the Blessed Mary, and "there was a mention in the program as well. Most experts seem to encourage symbolic gestures, like those described above, instead of spoken remembrances. "A reading can really get emotional," cautions Connie Franke, owner of Essential Wedding Specialists in Phoenix. Vicki La Duke concurs, particularly in cases where the loss is recent. "I try to tactfully discourage too much of a mention or announcement of the situation during the ceremony. In many cases, this may be too difficult for, not only for the couple, but other family and friends that are in attendance."
The couple should be aware that attitudes toward mentioning the dead on a joyous occasion such as a wedding vary greatly-some people get downright superstitious about it. For example, while I find the practice of placing a single white rose on the empty seat that would have been occupied by a parent quite touching, I know that others cringe at the sight and consider it "creepy." "Honoring a deceased parent is a very personal matter," Kramer has concluded. "We make suggestions but I would not say there is any best way...just what the bride and groom are most comfortabe with."
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