10 Ways to Honor Lost Loved Ones

“How do we honor the people we’ve lost at our wedding?” That is probably our most frequently asked question and something we take very seriously here. The one thing we warn against is doing anything that could bring the mood of the wedding down. It’s a balancing act to incorporate something that is meaningful and gives adequate recognition without making everyone fall apart and forget that this is a joyous day where two lives are being joined together. That being said, there are thousands of ways people honor the ones they’ve lost, but I wanted to list 10 of our favorites.

Memorial Table

Creating a memorial table is the most common option we see. It’s an easy way to recognize the ones you love that cannot be with you on the day. Place a floral arrangement on the table with white flowers or with a mix of their favorite flowers to make the table pop. Put photos of each person on the table for people to look at and admire along with items that remind you of them. It’s also really beautiful to put candles on the table to represent each individual. This is a classic and timeless way to bring recognition to those you’ve loved and lost.

Memorial Bouquet At Altar

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Place a floral arrangement somewhere on the altar. This can either be one that goes with the rest of the floral of the wedding, all white, or different floral to represent each person. If you choose this option, we recommend putting a small note in the program that says, “altar floral arrangements in honor of….” – that way the meaning doesn’t get lost in the rest of the décor.

Reserve a Seat

Another common way to honor those you’ve lost is to reserve a seat for your loved ones. You can do this by placing their photo on their seat or putting a bouquet (or single flower) on their seat. We love this one because it’s meaningful and people notice it, but it doesn’t draw too much attention. You’re recognizing that they still have a place here, even though they aren’t able to be physically present. We’ve also seen where someone walks a rose down the aisle and sets it on the reserved chair. This can work, but you have to be sure that it doesn’t take away from the purpose of the day. If the loss was fairly recent it can quickly make a joyous day one of grieving the loss.

Wear Their Jewelry

Often times the ones we’ve lost have a significant piece of jewelry that we can’t remember them ever taking off. Whether this is a necklace, a wedding ring, earrings, etc. It is a beautiful and subtle representation of them and something that will be in every photo for you to remember and look back on fondly. If you choose to go with the wedding band option, you can always make it into a necklace or bracelet.

Pin Photos to Bouquet/Boutonnière

How adorable is this? If you choose this option, make sure it’s very small, subtle additions. You can keep them close to you throughout the day even though they aren’t physically with you. I love this option. Doing this with a bouquet is easier than with a boutonniere as the photos can get rather large when placed with a small boutonniere, but if you keep it small it can be a cute and significant addition.

Tie Instead of Ribbon

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To bring your bouquet together you usually have a ribbon tied around the base. Instead of using a ribbon, you could easily use your loved one’s tie that they most commonly wore. Be sure it doesn’t clash with the décor and that the pattern isn’t too overwhelming.

Favors in Their Honor

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Another common question we get is, “what should we have for guest favors?”. I think that doing a favor that represents lost family or friends is really lovely. Whether that be their favorite snack item, a lip balm that they always used, their favorite mints, a CD of their favorite songs, and the list goes on. Simply put a note that says, “Enjoy this gift of *place name here*’s favorite….”

In Lieu of Favors

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Another great “favor” to do is no favor at all. Instead of doing a physical gift, donate all the money you would spend on favors to your favorite charity or research project. This one is especially meaningful if the ones you’ve lost have passed away because of a specific illness/disease or did a significant amount of work with a particular charity. If you choose this option, place a note at each setting stating, “In lieu of favors we have donated money to….in honor of…...” Or you could place a sign at the entrance of the reception instead.



We all have family members that have a favorite sweet treat or staple recipe. When I think about my grandma it always brings be back to her caramel brownies and mint ice cream bars. YUM! Offering these desserts at the dessert table is so fun and does double duty to honor those you’ve lost while feeding your guests. You could go one step further and also offer the recipe with the dessert…but we all know there are some secret family recipes that we would rather keep to ourselves ;)

Release balloons or Japanese Lanterns

This is such a fun one!! At the end of the night or during a sendoff, have everyone release balloons or Japanese lanterns. Not only does this make for stunning photos, it’s also a great way to get everyone involved in honoring those you love.

Our friends and family have a significant impact on who we are as individuals and the way we see the world. Losing someone dear to our hearts is never easy and we believe the 10 items we’ve listed would make a subtle, but powerful statement at any wedding. We hope this helps you make the decision of “how?” a little bit easier.

With Love and Gratitude,


Katie Murphy