There’s this framed saying that we’ve seen at a lot of weddings recently. “We knew you’d be here…if heaven weren’t so far away.”
For a lot of brides and grooms, this brings some very bittersweet memories. Your wedding day is said to be one of the happiest days of your life. You want to share your happiness with everyone you love. But what happens when you’re missing loved ones because they’re no longer here?
While our blogs so far have all been light and humorous, and somewhat tongue in cheek, this one is going to take a different direction, so be forewarned. But please bear with me as I write, because this is something that is very close and dear to my heart, because I was one of those brides missing very special loved ones at my own wedding.
Every little girl dreams of the day her dad will walk her down the aisle to her waiting groom. It’s tradition, and something every dad looks forward to with mixed emotions. In my case, that was impossible, because my dad died when I was only 8 years old. I never had even the opportunity to dream about it. My uncle, who was married to my mom’s youngest sister, stepped in and tried to fill my dad’s shoes as best he could during the intervening years. But unfortunately he died ten days before Ben and I were to be married, which of course necessitated our changing our wedding date. And my cousin walked me down the aisle instead.
If I had it to do over, I would’ve asked my mother to do it.
Last week my husband and I went to visit the venue where our daughter Ashley and her fiancé Chris will be married next year so that we could get a good look at the set up for planning purposes. All of a sudden, emotions just hit me. You see, not only did it bring back memories of not having my dad to walk me down the aisle, all of a sudden it hit me that my mother, who died seven years ago, and who absolutely adored our daughter more than anything in the world, wouldn’t be there either. And suddenly I got very emotional and very sad. Not because our daughter was marrying the man of her dreams next year, but because my mother wouldn’t be there to see her only grandchild on her wedding day.
This is when all of the memorials to family members we see on line really hit home. We coordinated a wedding for our daughter’s best friend Shadoe last year, and she gave us a number of pictures of her and her fiancé’s families to frame and set up on a memorial table next to the arch where they would say their vows. And one of those missing family members was Shadoe’s dad. Talk about an array of emotions for this wedding planner….
And because her dad wasn’t there, there was no father-daughter dance. But there WAS a mother-daughter dance that she even surprised me with! And as she and her mom danced to “I Hope You Dance”, I must say the tears were coming to my eyes!
Today, as couples wait a bit longer before they get married, there are a lot more loved ones absent from wedding day festivities. How I envy the pictures I see online about the grandmothers being flower girls, and even being included as bridesmaids! If only my daughter could have that luxury, but both of her grandmothers are no longer here.
There are a lot of options for brides and grooms to honor those who are gone but would have been included in their special day. The important thing to remember is, this is YOUR day, and if you choose to honor and include those lost loved ones, then do it! It’s not sad. It’s not putting a damper on a happy day. It’s YOUR wedding! It doesn’t take away from the happiness of the occasion. It brings family together at a time when family should be together.
Whether you choose to light a candle in someone’s honor, set up a display of family photos, put a picture on an otherwise empty chair, put pictures on a locket on your bouquet, include a family recipe at the reception, or any number of other special memorials, you need to do what’s meaningful for you and your fiancé!
As I look forward to Ashley and Chris’s wedding, I know they will decide to especially honor our missing family members. Chris unfortunately never met any of them, and Ashley only had the privilege of knowing my mother well, and meeting her dad’s father only once. But weddings are for family and friends, and I know this one will be special.
If you’re a bride or groom who’s missing some special people and want to include them somehow…do it. There’s no right or wrong way. It’s Your Wedding.
And we know they’d be here. If heaven weren’t so far away!
Photo Sources: 1st Row: via pinterest – 2nd Row: personal files – 3rd Row: personal files – 4th Row: source unknown; nytimes.com – 5th Row: stylemepretty.com; theknot.com; weddingbee.com; theknot.com; stylemepretty.com; stylemepretty.com; southernweddings.com; via pinterest; makeandtake.com- 6th Row: via etsy