How To Honour The Deceased At A Wedding CeremonyFeb 08, 2024
As Celebrants we meet a wide range of people at all different stages of their lives, many of whom are couples getting married. As we meet and discover their ‘love story’, we might also discover that there has been a significant loss within their family or community. This might be a father, a former spouse, a baby or child, or a close friend whom they’d have wished were in attendance to their special day. Often, couples will want to honour this person within the ceremony, making it more special and meaningful to them. It can also be helpful for their healing, allowing the couple to acknowledge the grief of this absence.
Given that celebrant-led ceremonies can be customised and personalised in any way, you can suggest a few creative ideas and help the couple to fulfil this wish. At ICPC, we want to ensure you feel prepared to share ideas and incorporate personal experiences into the ceremonies you deliver.
Starting with the most obvious way you can incorporate the inclusion of deceased person’s name in the welcome to the ceremony. There may be a general warm welcome to all, which allows itself to then progress to the sadness that certain people have been unable to attend and are much missed. How they are remembered and how much is said is the choice of the couple. Ask them open questions about the deceased person, how they are remembered, any highlighted information or quotes to incorporate. You can contribute as much or as little as needed to this process, and offer creative language suggestions if they are welcome.
A Memory Ritual
A ritual, such as adding written memories to a jar, lighting a memorial candle, or planting a tree can help to formally recognise this person within the wedding ceremony. The memorial candle can be lit in unison from two separate candles the couple are holding, and the Celebrant can write and deliver words of remembrance at that point.
Couples can invite guests to take part in any of these rituals, or it can be done privately or in smaller groups. Some couples like to have photographs and small memorabilia on a side table near the ceremony space which gives a visual reminder of them. The celebrant can then gesture towards the table when they are referred to within the ceremony. Other couples like to have photographs of the deceased on an empty chair as a physical representation of their wish to have their presence at the ceremony.
Readings are popular at weddings. These moments can offer an opportunity for people to talk about the couple, but also about the person they wish to honour. A poem can be particularly poignant and bring about gentle and meaningful memories. Speak to the couple about this option, and have some pre-prepared poems ready that they can pick from. Alternatively you can assist in writing a script for a friend or family member to read, or offer to do this yourself as part of your ceremonial delivery.
At the end of a wedding ceremony or any couples’ ceremonies, the Celebrant will offer a blessing for their new status and relationship. This may be secular, religious or spiritual, and it can also include the mention of the deceased. The blessing may represent the gathered guests along with the spirit of the deceased and wish the couple health and happiness in their future together.
At The International College of Professional Celebrants, we ensure that we give you comprehensive training in all aspects of ceremonies. This includes weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies and much more. We also offer our trained celebrants further learning through CPD, including workshops in rituals and creative writing.
If you have not yet trained with us, head over to our residential training page to learn more about our course and download our brochure.
If you have already trained, keep an eye on our further learning opportunities here. You can also view our new refresher training, for those who would like to renew their celebrancy knowledge and gain further confidence.
As always, we welcome your questions and are happy to give guidance and ideas.