memorial candle ceremony

Memorial Candle Lighting For Deceased Loved Ones

Hello! We would be greatful for some advice, thank you! We would like to honor our deceased grandparents at our wedding ceremony. Also, I (the bride) have one remaining grandfather who is still living and will be at the ceremony and we would like to honor him as well.

We are having a candlelit church ceremony (hurricaine vases and pilar candles on stage strategically placed, as well as dual candelabras). I would like to honor the grandparents by lighting the candles in memoral at the very beginning of the ceremony, which I plan to have explained in the order of service in the program. Also, I would like to have a powerpoint presentation at the same time as the candles being lit with the pictures and names of the deceased loved ones presented to the audience. After the lights come up a bit and the presentation is over, I’d like to seat my living grandfather with honor. And then start the usual seating of the mothers, etc, etc and processional of the bridesmaids and bride.

First of all, does this sound even remotely like a good idea? Next, do you have any ideas for the powerpoint presentation (lights will be dimmed if not dark), ie…quotes, etc and then what would be a good lead in from the powerpoint presentation to the seating of my grandfather? (I’m not thinking of an officiant speaking).

Thanks for your time and valuable advice!

Family Unity Candle Set

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb. Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

Dear Bride-To-Be. You obviously love your grandparents very much. Here are quotes straight from my book (and my next book ) that work well in honoring those who have passed:

  • In the life of the family, past and future meet. –Thomas Moore
  • When we honor our ancestors, we acknowledge that we did not create ourselves….that the line goes all the way back, perhaps to God…and the grace with which we embrace life….is always a measure of what has gone before. -Alice Walker
  • Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. -Gail Lumet Buckley

If I were officiating your ceremony, I would say something to the following (also from my book):

Thomas Moore (or whichever author you choose) once said,” (then read the quote)”. Therefore, at this time we remember (names) (relation to) who have passed on. Though they cannot be with us physically, we acknowledge that they are here in spirit sharing in our joy. The light of their memory can never be extinguished in the hearts of those who loved them.

(This last line is your cue to light the candles in their memory.)

Then you can go on to acknowledge your only living grandparent:

  • At this time, we would like to welcome Grandpa (name), (name’s) only living grandparent. Grandpa….., the bride and groom are honored to have you by their side today. They love you very much.

It will be very moving. Blessings upon your wedding day!

Rev. Susanna

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Honoring Grandparents,

I’m not sure about your PowerPoint presentation during your wedding. We memorize simply and quickly. Often this is just a short line in the program or a moment of silence.

Seating your living grandfather directly before the mothers is wonderful, especially because this will be mentioned in the program. There is no reason to embellish this with slides or announcement. Your deceased grandparents could be honored after the procession during the candle lighting. This would also be mentioned in the program.

The focus is on joy this day. This is why we memorize in a simple fashion.

Best wishes

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb. Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

The candlelighting done by a table with framed photos upon it along with a brief mention (an honoring of your grandparents) by your officiant would be enough. I have done many in this way, and it has been very touching for all. Having said that, I always tell my couples, “Let it be poignant, but not maudlin.” Never diminish the joy.


Rev. Susanna

Donna, Wedding Queen

Read more on this site about how to memorialize your loved ones during the ceremony with a memorial candle ceremony.

Reader Response

Okay let me clarify. The powerpoint presentation would take the place of the memorial table and pictures, it would be a VERY short presentation with only one photo of each of the grandparents to be remembered, in their ‘element’ (ie my Italian grandmother cooking at the stove) as the candles are being lit for the ceremony. I don’t plan to take a whole huge section of the ceremony, but where the grandparents would normally be seated with honor, I plan to have them ‘be a part of the ceremony’ so to speak. I think mentioning that in program will work, as well as beginning the processional with Grandpa at that point being seated with honor, and listed in the program, to keep it simple. I would like the slides to be backed by joyful music, to keep it from being ‘maudlin’ and it could even be the processional music for that matter. I don’t want it to have the feel of a memorial service, but rather a feel of not forgetting those who have shaped our lives and given us a heritage. Any further ideas? I appreciate the advice on keeping it about joy and future and promise, not death and past and sadness. Thanks!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President

I’ve lost both my parents, a borther and a sister, all at a very young age, and so I am sympathetic to what you’re trying to do here. But I feel as any mention of loss should be low-key since this is supposed to be a happy occasion. You say you don’t want this to be like a memorial however what you’re suggesting, a Powerpoint presentation”, sounds like something more suited to an office meeting rather than a wedding. I’m afraid of how this will be perceived by your guests. It could make some guests uncomfortable and bring some to more tears than they expected at a wedding.This doesn’t mean you have to leave these people out since you can have a photo and a candle to light, maybe a few short words, a prayer or a mention in the program, but something very understated and respectful.

Deacon Bob Tousey

If I understand what you are suggesting is a power point presenation prior to the seating of the mothers. It is before the ceremony actually begins. It might seem a bit much to some but I do not think it is. If done tastefully and includes all deceased grandparents of the bride and groom and then you sit the living grandparent I think it is a nice tribute. Best wishes and God Bless, Bob

Guy’s Opinion

I understand what you are desiring to do and it is a nice gesture. However, having a powerpoint presentation used in your wedding ceremony, in my opinion, could be perceived as ‘not so good a thing’ as it takes away from the sweetness of the moment, especially when the audio equipment doesn’t work properly. Powerpoint presentations are effective informational tools but they are also impersonal. It is not the sort of thing that you need to use to memorialize your loved ones. If you must have it, do so at the reception.