Post # 1
I’m struggling with trying to think of ways to incorporate my late mother into my wedding. I’m her only child and her and I were so close. We were best friends and did everything together. She lost a 14-year battle with cancer almost 4 years ago, when I was 23. I’m getting married this summer and it kills me that she won’t be here to witness this special day (yes, I know she’s there in spirit, but that’s not really helpful or the same thing).
I know how I can incorporate little touches of her here and there, like adding her favourite flowers or even flowers from her own wedding bouquet into mine. I also bought a bouquet charm that I’m going to put her photo in and wrap around my bouquet. But the biggest issue I’m grappling with is whether or not I should leave an empty seat with her photo on it and some flowers in the family section of my ceremony, next to my dad. Her and my dad were married for 26 years when she died. They were the loves of each others’ lives and had a beautiful marriage. Everyone who knew them aspired to be like them and were in awe of whta a perfect, happy family they had created with the 3 of us. It was devastating and earth shattering for both my dad and I when she died and there were times when I didn’t think we’d make it through, but now he has a girlfriend who he’s been seeing for a few months now. He’s assured me that she won’t replace my mom and he’ll never feel the way he did for her for another woman ever again, but he’s lonely and likes the companionship. It was hard for me at first, but I understand now. Anyways, what I want to know is, is it rude or offensive to his new girlfriend if I go ahead with the idea of the empty chair in my mom’s honour? Would it be weird to have that chair on one side of my dad, and his girlfriend sitting on the other side of him? I’m not sure if his girlfriend would receive it very well and I don’t know if I want to talk to her about it because my dad has told me that she will often make comments about how it’s strange he still lives in his “dead wife’s house surrounded by all her things”… not very compassionate or understanding.
I know people have varying opinions on even incorporating the dearly departed into weddings at all because they’re supposed to be “happy” occasions, but please understand that ignoring the colossal elephant in the room only makes it harder on us who are grieving their absence. Incorporating my mom would make me happier, not more sad. It’s not like I’m already not thinking of her every hour of every day anyway, let alone the biggest day of my life. Every big milestone in my life will be bittersweet since her passing and I’ve accepted that fact. She was so looking forward to watching me walk down the aisle, she even had some of her speech planned (but didn’t write it out sadly, it was in her head). She was also a florist and was supposed to do all the floral arrangements for my wedding, so finding another supplier to do that for me has been very challenging 🙁
Anyway, thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts and insights!
Post # 2
I really dislike the chair thing. And your father probably wants to at least TRY to be happy on your wedding day, I feel that will bring him sadness instead. Keep her with you in your mementos, but doing something public seems out of place imo.
Post # 3
Wow, I’m not trying to make anyone sad, did you not read the last paragraph I posted? We’re all loving and missing her anyway. And it’s not just about my dad and I, her siblings and their children will be there too. We all love and miss her dearly. Why wouldn’t I want to honour the woman who gave me life?
Post # 4
you’re very naive and ignorant if you actually think my dad won’t be thinking of her anyway and can honestly just turn his grief on and off like that.
Post # 5
Im not sure why you seem offended by my post. Seeing a public memorial for someone you’ve lost can be jarring to some. Inappropriate imo at a wedding, which is supposed to be joyus.
You ARE honouring her with your subtle gestures for yourself, which is great.
Post # 6
My mom died when I was 12, so I’m not an unfeeling asshole who doesn’t “get it”.
I don’t think an empty chair next to your dad and his girlfriend is the best way to honor your mother but I’m personally not a fan of empty chairs/memorial tables and the like. I think often instead of it coming off as a sweet sentimental gesture to show that you’re loved one is remembered it’s just kind of ends up being more of a bummer than a happy/sad kind of thing. I think there are lots of lovely ways to honor your mom without the physical reminder that hey, she’s dead. Not to mention the awkwardness for your dad and his new partner.
To me from my experience as a bride, the whole empty chair thing would have been incredibly depressing to see on my wedding day for not only myself but the friends and family who knew her. No one forgot she was dead, I didn’t need a giant physical reminder to say “Hey, know this is supposed to be a happy day but why don’t we fixate on your mother’s death instead!”
Post # 7
my heart goes out to you, thanks for sharing your experience. May I ask what you did instead, if anything, on your wedding day for your mom?
Post # 8
Im not terribly sentimental but I did walk down the aisle to a song by her favorite singer instead of a traditional wedding march. So when my dad walked me down we walked to “her song” so she was included in an important moment, kind of like a special thing that was just the three of us but not an overt statement.
That was in addition to having her flower in the bouquet. I really didn’t want to have the fact she wasn’t there in my face because it would have made me sad and I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to waste any time being sad.
Some well meaning more sentimental folks suggested making her a “bigger part” of the day, even suggesting we take engagement pictures on her grave (who does that?!) but I finally got people to lay off after I told them we might as well dig her up and prop her up in the front row with a beer and a cigarette.
Post # 9
I lost my mom at 23 as well and it gets easier but I still cry 10 years later. I am also not a fan of the empty chair/memorial table. My family is very emotional and I know my dad, brothers and me would all have been in tears if I had gone this route. I did a bouquet charm with her picture and that was perfect for me.
Post # 10
I lost my mom at 24 to cancer too, so I am right there with you. While I am not engaged just yet, I know that this is going to be a super huge factor that effects me throughout the wedding planning experience. It doesn’t help that I also don’t have much of a relationship with my dad and I am a super sentimental person. Not to derail your post, but how did you handle becoming engaged and not being able to call your mom to tell her the good news?
I would love to hear any other suggestions people have of ways to honor loved ones without it being an ‘in your face’ statement like an empty chair which would probably make me more upset than anything else.
Post # 11
I see no problem with remembering the dead at weddings. I did it, but then again I’m a bit old school and Victorian when it comes to these types of things.
I carried my grandmother’s handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet.
We had photos or our grandmothers with the saying “Remember me with smiles and laughter.”
We choose a 1940s song to remember our grandparents for our first dance.
We had doilies with the centerpieces, which my grandmother loved
I wore blue. For her since she also wore blue on her wedding, but for me as well because I love blue.
The chair idea I do not mind, however, I am unsure if it should be near your father and your dad’s gf.
Post # 12
Empty chair would feel so sad because for me it would only emphasize her deadness. My mom died when I was 22, so I’m currently in the same situation of trying to figure out what to do to involve her without it being overwhelming.
I think if we have a DJ, definitely want to play her some Leon Russell, The Band, Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, etc. She was such a music lover and 60’s groupie/hippie. She also loved the Dvorak “New World Symphony,” so maybe a theme from that would be lovely for a quartet to play during prelude as guests are seated.
If I want to try to include her in decor, she loved plants and loved orchids and tall grasses. She loved spirals and paisleys. She loved the color chartreuse and was one of the only people I’ve known who could wear that color. She loved amber and tortoise shell. These are things I’ll keep in mind when I think about how I can integrate her into the day.
Post # 13
My mom died when I was 6, dad when I was 10 and DH’s mom when he was 5, it was too many people to try to incorporate into the wedding somehow, especially now that DH’s dad has a new partner and I have adoptive parents.
However, there was something really sweet I saw on the internet that I would have liked to have done but I didn’t get a chance, it’s a saying:
“Someone we love is in Heaven so we have a bit of Heaven at our Wedding.”
Post # 14
I think it would bea wonderful thing to have your officiant acknowledge your mom along the lines of “although XXX’s mom is not with us today we knw that she is here in spirt rejoicing in XXX’s good fortune in having found a wonderful lifelong partner in XXXX” They might also mention the wonderful matrimonial example set by your parents for you and the hopes that you and your partner hold that you too can have a lasting, happy marriage that creates a secure family environmnet in which your children might flourish. Those sort of remarks set a postive tone and acknowlege your mom’s legacy. I really wouldn’t labour the point any more than that. I feel the empty chair is labouring the point (just my view…might not be yours) and does have the potential to make your father’s new partner feel conspicously second rate, which is surely not a good outcome.
I wish you well with your wedding and hope the joy and love around you that day compensate for your feelings of loss.
Post # 15
I am with the others who say an empty chair is rather a public , even theatrical statement and likely to upset and embarrass people.
You got unreasonably cross with the first pp who suggested this so I hope you don’t again take it as some sort of slur on you ( or your father)
The touches you are already planning sound lovely. Also have you any tiny thing of hers, like a lock of hair or something that you could put in a locket either for around your neck or around the bouquet? And oh yes, remember her in speeches of course.