Honoring deceased during ceremony

Hey there,

My fiance’s dad passed away 4 months ago, and my mother passed away 4 weeks ago. Both very young and both from cancer. We will be getting married in the Caribbean in 3.5 weeks. My entire family will be there. Since these deaths happened so recently I feel that it is important that we honor them in some way. I had the idea of placing a picture of each of them next to the arch were getting married under. It will be a outside ceremony on the beach in the sand. We were going to have the reverend say something along the lines of “we want to honor our parents by lighting a candle”. We were thinking of placing a votive candle in front of each photo to light signifying their presence during the ceremony.

My question is how could we word this? We need to give something for the reverend to say, and I am at a loss for words, especially since all this just happened.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Kay and Dennis Flowers

We understand your situation, as both our fathers had passed away before the time of our wedding. To symbolize their “absent presence” we had a lit candle within a simple floral arrangement on either side of the aisle. An explanation was given in the wedding program, so there was no need for our pastors to say anything.

It is admirable of you to want to honor your parents at your wedding. Votive candles seem like a good idea, since any breeze along the beach could blow out a regular candle. Pictures seem a bit out of place, since the focus should be on the two of you and your special day. for this reason, the candles should already be lit.

Your minister could tell the attenders that the lit candles represent your deceased parents who would have rejoiced in this celebration. The minister should explain the presence of the candles before the actual ceremony begins or during the time of the lighting of the unity candle, if you are doing this tradition and it’s not too windy. For the lighting of the unity candle, you could light your candles from the lit votive candles representing your parents, as the unity candle symbolizes uniting two families into one.

Congratulations and have a wonderful wedding and a blessed life!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

Ah, yes, symbolism is terrific. Actions can speak louder than words!

Both my parents are deceased now, and my mother died when I was a teen (from cancer too) so I sympathize with you and pray for your healing. It has to be such a bittersweet time for the two of you.

My husband died when my kids were very young so, when my son got married last year, he wanted to honor his memory in some way that was very subtle but meaningful for him. He decided to light a candle in honor of all who had passed before. That way no one family member was singled out. Plus, I think it went a long way to keep me from melting into a puddle of tears too!

Do use a hurricane lamp on the beach to protect the flame from blowing out. Here are some more ideas for remembering a deceased loved one during the wedding ceremony.


I wish you both a wonderful wedding and lifetime of happiness.

Dr. Meredith Hansen Find Love. Get Love. Keep Love.

Right now it may be difficult for the right words to come to you, as this is all very new and you are still grieving. I understand that you feel like you are under pressure to give your words to the pastor, however, I would give yourself some time. Take away the pressure and if the words come to you, great, if they don’t, just keep it simple.

The key is to honor them in a way that feels meaningful to you. If that means pictures and a candle, a moment of silence during the ceremony, a special prayer in their honor, etc, whatever you feel good about. There is no right or wrong way to handle this. This is your wedding, your parents, and your grief, honor all of that in a way that resonates with you.

Best wishes!

Father Ken Zelten OFM,

When I perform a wedding ceremony, and the Bride and Groom would like to honor an immediate family member who has passed, I always suggest that one of the ushers bring a white rose down the aisle and place it on the appropriate chair that would have been occupied by the loved one. It can be done at the time that the missing member would have been escorted. It is always quite moving, and is a lovely tribute to the parent that has passed on.