Twenty years ago, my Dad died.
If you've read my About Me page then you will be aware that he was a keen photographer and directly influenced the path that led me to where I am now. It makes me sad that he didn't live to see me set up my own business and build it into the success that it has become. I know he would have been proud of me but I truly miss the conversations that we might have had, the guidance he would have provided and the experiences we might have shared along the way.
I get emotional at weddings at the best of times but the two moments guaranteed to strike me right in the feels are watching the Bride being accompanied down the aisle by her Dad and listening to the Father-of-the-Bride speech. Lets just say that I am often thankful that I have a camera to hide behind!
With memories of my Dad swirling around my head this morning, I started thinking about how I would celebrate his memory if I were ever to get married. For my sisters wedding, she brought along a teddy bear that she had bought as a gift for my Dad one Fathers Day. Teddy Pugh was an integral part of our childhood so it felt fitting that he was there on her wedding day. He sat on the gift table and presided over the days events. To everyone else, he was just a cute bear sat in the corner, but to us, it made us all feel like Dad was there with us on that special day.
Lets face it, at most weddings there is normally someone important who is missing. It can be a be an extremely emotional day if it is a parent or sibling of the Bride or Groom that has died. Most couples therefore decide to acknowledge their absence in some way so I thought I'd put together a few ideas to help you do just that...
This is perhaps the most obvious way to acknowledge those that are missing. It is traditional for someone to raise a toast to "absent friends" but I would suggest that you speak to whoever is intending on giving a speech to ensure that someone has this particular toast on their list (you don't want duplications but you also want to make sure that it isn't forgotten because everyone assumes that someone else is doing it!).
They can't be there in person but there's no reason why you can't save them a seat. At a recent wedding, I noticed that the entire back row was reserved for family and friends that had been lost. A simple name placed on each seat and a sunflower ensured that their memory was kept alive in the hearts of all that attended.
Another idea is to light a candle for your loved one (or loved ones). This can often be incorporated into your ceremony (especially for celebrant-led ceremonies) to provide a moment of reflection and involve them more directly in the day itself.
On a few occasions, I've seen Brides attach a locket to their bouquet containing the photos of their loved ones. It means that you can carry them with you all day and keep them close by.
I've seen some lovely memory tables created for absent loved ones containing framed photos, candles, flowers and trinkets. It doesn't need to be anything excessive - do whatever feels right. A simple vase of flowers or a collection of candles can be enough. The important thing is to keep it meaningful for you.
A final way to include your loved ones in your wedding day is to incorporate something specific into your plans. It could be that you serve their favourite dessert at your wedding breakfast or you include their favourite song at your evening reception. Perhaps they had a favourite poem that could be read out during your ceremony or they had a favourite flower that you include in your bouquet or buttonholes. The possibilities are endless!
The most important thing is to do what ever suits you best. It can be a shared moment of reflection with all of your guests or it can be kept as a simple, personal reminder that only you are aware of. It's your day so do what's right for you and no-one else!