Our nephew, Rob, is our son’s best man. However, Rob has a terminal cancer. Our son and fiance set the wedding date for Aug 19 with Rob’s situation in mind. Invitations are out and everything is in place. However, Rob has taken a turn for the worse and not only will not be physically able to be in the wedding, but has been given 4 – 8 weeks to live. Do they replace him in the wedding, or leave that spot open and have another groomsman as witness? It would seem morbid to go to the cost and hassle of postponing the wedding in anticipation of Rob’s death, yet what if he passes just before the wedding? No matter when the wedding is held or postponed to, Rob’s presence will be sorely missed. So would it be wrong to just leave the plans as they are and memorialize/recognize Rob in the ceremony somehow? Help!
Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb
What a sad and tragic situation. I take it that he is a young man.
I have had experience with similiar situations, once where the best man, the groom’s brother, was dying of lymphoma.
It is your, your son’s, his bride and her family’s call to postpone the wedding or not. You are the only ones who can weigh the emotional impact it will have on your day should the worse happen. You are the only ones who know if you can financially afford to do so.
Be sure to speak to have a heart to heart with your son and his future wife. Afterall, it is their wedding day.
Having said that, it would NOT be wrong to go forward with the wedding plans. Keeping the spot of best man open for Rob is absolutely appropriate and would mean a lot to his family. You can make a brief mention of it in the program. In this way, all your guests will understand the vacancy. It will move their hearts. You can have a special candle or a single flower on the altar or ceremonial table or somewhere else at the wedding along with a prayer or a statement that Rob is in your hearts on that day.
Do inform your officiant of the situation. He or she may have some comforting or helpful ideas. If you wish, at one point in the ceremony, your celebrant can make a brief mention of Rob. It should be brief, poignant—and not maudlin. It is okay if there are tears.
I often speak to my families of appropriateness and the fact that joy and sorrow can co-exist side by side. We need not diminish the joy on a wedding day, nor deny the pain of the reality of what is going on.
We can honor without dishonoring.
My heart and prayers go out to all of you.
Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca
My sincerest sympathies go out to all of you. This has to be a difficult time for everyone.
Typically I suggest that this day focus on the wedding and all things positive. However, there really is no way to pretend this isn’t happening. Plus, it just isn’t right to do so.
So, I completely agree with Reverend Susanna’s suggestions. This is a wonderful idea and completely proper. It should be viewed positively and warmly.