This is such a personal topic that needs attention.
Since beginning my own wedding planning process, I have found almost nothing that touches how to handle weddings when you have lost loved ones in your family that will not be there - specifically parents. It is astounding to me that there is virtually nothing on the topic and yet, there are definitely people who have had to deal with this.
Not only the grief that comes with planning a wedding without a parent (or both in my case) involved, but the idea of tackling the wedding traditions when parents are SO involved.
Every family situation is different, so the ways to navigate each wedding and tradition will be different. You just need to think what would be best for YOU and your future wife/husband.
Since we will be getting personal I will get right down to it - my mom died when I was 15 and I lost my dad last year right before my future husband (FH) had the chance to propose. It has been a tough year, and the added layer of grief added to the process of being engaged and planning a wedding is not making it any easier. This definitely won't be my only post on this topic.
I am so lucky to have my little brother who I am very close to, and my stepmom who is one of my best friends. My brother was always supposed to be my brides"man" or "man of honor," but now he will also be walking with me down the aisle. He asked to do both! My stepmom is definitely filling the role of mother of the bride and is helping me design my wedding.
My FH and I have also decided that we needed a subtle visual reminder of my parents at the ceremony so that I can have them there in spirit. We do not want to have a huge to-do about them not being there, because there is already enough crying at weddings. We were pretty horrified by some of the results online when you look up "honoring dead family members at weddings" where framed photos were put on chairs or reserved signs on chairs. I felt that it would put salt in the wounds to have empty chairs where your parents are supposed to be.
We settled on having 2 candles that would be lit about 10 minutes before the ceremony that would represent my mom and dad. The flame of the candles will be moving and will be sitting there present for me as I walk down - I will (hopefully) feel comforted by its presence. We decided that my stepmom would light a candle for my dad and my aunt for my mom, and there won't be any explanation since they are only really for me and my partner.
We are still working on how to handle other traditions like the father/daughter dance and thank you speeches since I don't want to take away things from my FH and his family's experience. As most of you know by now, you can't make everyone happy when you are wedding planning.
With all of the traditions being adjusted and changed, we also decided to take this as an opportunity to bend and toss other traditions that we don't like to make this wedding completely ours.
We tossed out bridesmaids' bouquets and doing floral jewelry instead.
Definitely replacing corsages with floral jewelry too.
We are not having floral center pieces.
We are definitely NOT doing garter toss. (I may do a whole post on this.)
I may not do bouquet toss.
We may not do a formal cake cutting. (I will just do a post about gross wedding traditions.)
We are also having an age limit for kids at the wedding.
Then we are going to add some fun things to our wedding since most of my family does not drink -- A historic-comedy tour (secretly in honor of my dad) through the area during cocktail hour since we will be getting married in a historical part of Richmond, VA. We will have the bartenders make a set of mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) for everyone so that even non-drinkers can have something nice. We will have the bartenders add a shot of something if requested to make into a cocktail.
Again - this day is supposed to be yours to share with your partner. Make it yours the best you can and find ways to honor those that so wish they could be there for it.
IF YOU OR YOUR PARTNER ARE STRUGGLING WITH IDEAS FOR YOUR BIG DAY WITH CHANGING TRADITIONS BECAUSE OF A LOST LOVED ONE (S) -
Please email me or call me. I will chat with you and help you with ideas. This shit is hard.
email@example.com or 828-649-5233