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Making Space for Memories at Your Wedding

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

Today we're sharing a few of our most cherished ideas for how to make space for the memories of your loved ones at your wedding celebration. If you're considering a remembrance table or maybe carrying a locket with your grandma's photo in it, read on to hear some ways that our clients have approached this in the past.

When you picture your wedding day, it's easy to picture that big group shot on the dance floor at the height of the party - your friends and family all dancing together to your favorite song, your sweetheart's arms around you, beats pumping. But for many of us, when we picture that lovefest, we can also see the faces of those loved ones who won't be there with us. For many of us, those missing people can take up a lot of space on the happiest days.

Truth be told: weddings can be one of the most emotional days of your life. Joy totally overflowing, but also...feeeeeeeeeeeelings.

And it makes sense! Our average couple spends over 18 months planning their wedding and that's not including the time they spent daydreaming about it during their courtship. Yeah, I said courtship... I'm old school like that.

But not to worry, we don't have to get bowled over by our feelings. We can make space for them.

One way that you can make your wedding feel authentic and beautiful is to take the time to talk with your partner about the ways in which you might make space for those folks who aren't able to attend the wedding. Talk about the places where you can make that space. Talk about who you needs that space and how you want it to look and feel.

So what are some options for your wedding? Where could you start? Read on...

5 ways to make space for memories at your wedding celebration

1. Remembrance Table.

Something as simple as a remembrance table with family photographs on it can help to carve out a space to honor your deep connection to your loved ones. When choosing those photos, think about the feeling that you want that table to create. Do you want it to be a space for quiet reflection, are you hoping to honor, respect, and remember happy memories...all of the above? I always love seeing photographs of folks laughing and enjoying life, rather than a table full of just yearbook photos - but that's just me. Photos of your loved ones doing the things that they enjoyed in life are always a great way to go.

I've also seen remembrance tables where the couple chose to include photographs from as many weddings in the past of their family as they could find. Grandmas and Grandpas. Great Aunts and Great Uncles. Sisters, Brothers, In-laws. Moms and Dads. Cousins! This can create a fun array of family moments for your guests to check out, taking a minute to remember those times when you were all together in the past.

Your remembrance or memory table can include things other than photos, too, and these moments don't have to be restricted to the entryway of your reception.

What about...

  • Grandma's handwritten cookie recipe, framed, nestled in on the cookie table

  • A photo of you and your bff from grade school who has passed away, along with the ribbon you won in the 3 legged race all those years ago

  • A photo of your grandpa with his prize-winning dachshunds, huge smile on his face

2. Carrying a Photograph.

One of the most simple ways that you can honor the memory of your loved ones is by carrying a small photo of them with you on your wedding day. You don't even have to tell anyone that you're doing this. It can be completely private. Or, you can choose to hold a small locket or framed image of them in your suit jacket pocket, wear it in a necklace, or attach it to the stem of your bouquet.

Memorial Photo Locket Wedding Bouquet Bracelet. Close up image of a bride's hands holding a bouquet. On her wrist is a bracelet with a locket and a photograph of a woman inside.
Kristin Sanderson Photography

3. Connecting through Fabric.

The feeling of a familiar piece of fabric can bring up all kinds of wonderful memories for us. Since you'll likely be wearing something that's new to you (or even borrowed) for your wedding day, bringing along a special piece of fabric can really add something special. I knew a bride who sewed a piece of their grandmother's dress to the inside of her dress. No one could actually see that it was there, but this bride knew that that cloth that had belonged to her grandmother was with her throughout the whole day. We've also seen people repurpose parts of dresses or special garments from family members - everything from a father's work shirt or hankie being used as wrap around a bridal bouquet to the sleeve from a mother's wedding dress being tucked into a groom's pocket square.

The next three photos have three different versions of this: First, Keren's bouquet with a lucky hankie. Next, Katie's bouquet with the sleeve from her grandma's wedding dress wrapped around the handle. Third, Maura's bouquet, where she also carried a lucky piece of fabric and a rosary.

4. Carrying a Special Object.

A particularly interesting example of this was a client many years ago in Brooklyn named Sara who carried with her a small Bible. It was about the size of a business card, and only about 2 inches thick. It was very special, and had been carried by all of the women in her family since WWII as a kind of a good luck charm, having survived the war. We were able to make a small holder out of ribbon to allow Sara to nestle the Bible under her hands while she carried her bouquet so that nothing would be damaged, and she wouldn't have to worry about the well-being of this beloved and sacred object.

Jeri Stein Photography Bridal Wedding Bouquet handle tied with ribbon and a gold and gemstone guardian angel memorial charm
Jeri Stein Photography

5. Connecting through Flowers.

Of course, you know that one of our favorite ways to show these connections and honor our loved ones is through flowers. Here are a few ways that you might choose to do that:

  • Ask your floral designer to look at photos of your loved one's wedding bouquet. Can they make an updated version? Use any of the same kinds of blooms in yours? Wrap with the same kind of ribbon?

  • Did your loved one have a favorite flower? Something that always reminds you of them? We once made a beautiful arrangement of sunflowers and hydrangeas for a family because those were the favorite flowers of two different people who had passed away, and they wanted to honor them both.

  • If you're stumped on what kinds of flowers might best honor your loved one, just choose something seasonal and lovely. It is always the thought that counts, and when choosing flowers for a memory table, you can always go with something seasonal that works with your overall color palette.

Emily Wren Photography Wedding Bridal Bouquet May Cascading
Emily Wren Photography

I recommend having these conversations with your partner while planning your wedding. Keep it real, keep it authentic. Some questions that you might consider:

  • If we made a remembrance or memory table, who's photographs would we include on it.

  • Are there special songs that we might play and dance to that remind us of these loved ones?

  • Are there special family objects that we might carry either secretly or in the open to keep the memory of these people close to us.

I know it can feel sad to think about those who we've loved, and lost, but at the end of the day so much of what weddings are about is the connection to our family and our ancestors. We do so many rituals already to include that link to the past, so when you're planning your wedding celebration I definitely encourage you to think about the ways in which you can honor your family through some of these ideas.

* If you've been to a wedding with a unique style of rememberance table or other memorial ritual, I'd love to hear about it so please leave a note in the comments.


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May 25, 2023

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