To me, weddings are the epitome of joy, and they should be. It is a beautiful day that you get to experience, not only with your future spouse, but with your beloved families and friends. I certainly felt this joy in abundance on our wedding day, but always within the very depths of my heart, it came with a touch of sadness.
There were a few very key people that would not be able to share in this joyous day, and I wanted to be sure to remember these lost loved ones. I didn’t want to feel like I was ignoring their absence. It felt unfair to them and would’ve left my day with a sense of “something missing.” Embracing that they were celebrating with God was solace for me. It’s what made my day feel complete.
If the same may be true for you, I hope these 5 things (some I found afterwards and some I implemented myself) can help you keep your deceased loved ones in your heart on your happiest day.
1. Jewelry with their initials: Though there were others, my biggest void, so to speak, was my father. He passed away, very unexpectedly, when I was 15. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, and though I constantly feel him watching over me, I knew I wanted to be more focused than ever on my guardian angel on our wedding day.
One of the ways in which I knew I wanted to include him was on my “outfit.” I thought about wearing something that belonged to him or sewing a piece of his shirt to the inside of my dress in the shape of a heart, but then I figured if I was going to do something to commemorate him, I would want it to be wearable after the wedding. That’s how I decided to include his initials on my necklace. I love simple jewelry and bar necklaces, so it was an easy decision.
This necklace is something I wear often and constantly reach to somehow feel more connected to my father. It also is just so wonderful to have accessories from my wedding day that I can wear months later and recall that momentous day.
2. Special dance (especially if it’s a parent): I decided I wanted to take it a step further, so hopefully this does not bum anyone out! For me, the father/daughter dance was very important. I remember thinking about it the day he past away. How much I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t be there for that (and at the time I was not even remotely close to marriage). I’m not sure if it was because he often danced with me at family parties when I was little, but it always resinated with me.
Though I missed him at the walk down the aisle, I knew my mother had that covered. She deserved to give me away as much as he did, so I didn’t feel that emptiness there. I didn’t really think she could take his place on the dance floor (no offense, Mom, but I think we’d end up looking silly out there together!). I also didn’t think I could just skip over it. It seemed far too important of a moment to just ignore. That’s how I came up with the idea to dance with five people.
These five men had been such a huge part of my life (in fact, as I mention, there were A LOT of men that did this) and had taken such good care of me and my family. Not to mention, my father’s brothers and my actual brother have so much of my father in them – from their mannerisms to their looks.
I’ve included the video (the “special dance” starts around 6:15), so I’ll let that do all the explaining, but I would like to include that I am very happy with my decision to this. I was anxious that it would be too much of a “buzz kill” or just come off weird, but it was perfect. Yes, I cried a lot – we all did, but it felt cathartic to me. It only added to my night and hopefully to the loved ones who shared this dance with me.
Raw footage done by The Hons Photo :
In case you want to read the full speech:
As you all know, this is usually the part of a wedding where the bride gets to dance with her father. For me it was always one of the most beautiful traditions and, though a little more painful, it has has become increasingly more touching since Papi passed away 8 years ago. I love to watch the way a father looks lovingly at his daughter and realizes that another man is now in charge of taking care of his little girl.
Like any other insane female, I grew up dreaming about my wedding and planning things far before boys my ages were even interested in girls. I can’t remember much of what I thought about then, except for one thing that has stuck with me and that was what song I wanted to play when I got to dance with Papi.
In my day dreams, I never realized how I eventually got a boy to like me back or how I got Papi to like this boy, but I always knew Papi would be there swinging me around the dance floor. We would dance to “Butterfly Kisses,” by Bob Carlisle because that was a song he loved and that I later came to appreciate. He would lead with actual Puerto Rican rhythm, and I would just have to let him twirl me around because I unfortunately did not inherit said rhythm. Thanks, Mom. I knew that it would be a proud moment for both of us and a memory that I would always cherish.
When thinking recently about what I would actually do to honor my father without completely bumming everyone out, I thought about the men in my life who have been there for me when he could no longer be.
In fact, my husband (wow that’s really weird), has been there since that day in 2007. Stephen was only 14 when my father passed and hadn’t yet gotten to meet him. We began dating just two months after, and as you can see he grew up alongside me and became the new most important man in my life. I have thanked God every day for being so generous for blessing me with the love of my life when I needed him most. What perfect timing He has.
But he wasn’t the only one. With six uncles, two brothers and the most generous, selfless grandfather on this planet, I have been blessed with an abundance of men who have loved me and cared for my family since Papi’s passing.
Whether it was washing our cars, helping us move or literally being there wherever and whenever we called (or even if we didn’t), these men are some of the biggest blessings in my life. I know my mother, Kyle, Carlos and I are eternally grateful to them and everyone else who continually helps us and make us feels so very loved.
I thought that Papi would also want to thank you all, if he could, for being there for me and that maybe this is the perfect opportunity for him and I to give you something back and remind you how much I appreciated every heavy lifting/car fixing thing you did for me over the past 8 years.
I never once felt I wasn’t being cared for or watched over the way I know Papi would have if he had been alive and therefore I hope that five of you will do me the honor of dancing with me on my wedding day.
“Butterfly Kisses” is a long song, but it isn’t nearly long enough to include every man that I look up to and am grateful for. Instead I had to choose just five men, that due too how close they lived to us were constantly picking up my car to wash it, driving me around and just generally being available for anything my family needed. We rarely had to ask and they seemed to always brush off our “thank you’s” with “of course” or “anytime.”
I would like to start with my Grandpa who is one of my biggest role models. It’s impossible to meet this man and not instantly be charmed. Grandpa, your generosity, sense of humor and unwavering love for your family is something I respect and cherish more than I could ever express.
And the last person I knew I wanted to dance with was Kyle. He may have been a boy and so freakin’ annoying in 2007, but he has grown into an admirable and brave man that is a spitting image of my father. Kyle, I am so proud to be your sister and so lucky to call you my friend.
Stephen is helping me time and orchestrate this whole thing, but, Grandpa, could you please join me up here first. I hope you’re not crying as much as I am or this is going to be a mess..
3. Display their photos: We also displayed photos of the other relatives that were missing and a “you are missed” sign. I don’t have any photos of this display, but I think it’s a great way to address it and a great way to keep their memory present in that day.
*All photos below this were found on Pinterest, and our not mine*
4. Reserve them a seat: If I had found this before we got married, I may have done this as well. This idea is that they are their at the ceremony with you. I would think about your seating though to see if this would work. I can imagine bench/pew seating would make this idea difficult, because people may accidentally knock the frame over. An additional chair away from everyone may work better.
5. Burn a candle in their memory: Another loving way to showcase that they are present with you, even if it’s not physically. You can burn one for all of them or maybe ones at specific tables near their family members.
This post is dedicated to my father, Stephen’s grandfather, my Abuela, my Abuelo, Stephen’s uncle and our deceased great grandparents. You were so very present for us on that day. We love and miss you dearly.