Honouring a deceased loved one

Almost every planning meeting I have with clients will include some mention of a loved one who is deceased. But how much should deceased relatives be honoured on a naming or wedding day?

The answer is of course that it is completely up to you. Some clients don't feel comfortable with a big mention whilst some don't know that they can include them!

So here are some ways of honouring a deceased loved one as part of your special day. Hopefully you will find something you are comfortable with.

Give them a mention

  • Have your celebrant briefly mention absent loved ones (this can include those absent as well as deceased).

  • Have your celebrant mention the deceased loved one(s) by name.

  • Mention them in speeches or have a toast.

  • Include a moment of reflection.

  • Include a note in your order of service.

Include an item belonging to the deceased

  • Perhaps you have a brooch, watch, tie, scarf you can wear?

  • You can attach items to a bouquet.

  • You can display items on a table if you feel they will be safe.

  • You might want to include an item in the ceremony itself - a parents' ring in the ring exchange or a child's scarf in a handtie for example.

A spare seat

  • Decorate a seat on the front row of your guests

  • Decorate a seat and make a place setting on your top table


  • Attach one to a bouquet

  • Display one on a chair or table

  • Create a memory tree - at my wedding we had a photo holder "tree" that included photos of all my grandparents and my brother in law. This was accompanied with tags for people to write wishes and messages of love as a guestbook alternative.


  • A simple candle can be lit in a person's memory and displayed throughout the ceremony or the day.

  • Memorial candles with text or a photo can be a nice personal touch.

  • Have your guests all light a candle each.

Favourite things

You can include some of their favourite things such as

  • Flowers.

  • Colours.

  • Scents or perfume.

  • Food and drink including family recipes, sweets or chocolate.

  • Music.

  • Charity - donations on their behalf.

I hope that has sparked your imagination and given you some ideas. Remember, it is whatever you feel comfortable with. I will be adding more photos to my Pinterest board "Some Different Traditions" so do take a look for inspiration.


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Chat with me

07725 686 436

Lisa Bourne is an accredited Humanists UK celebrant, a member of the Humanist CeremoniesTM celebrant network and a member of West Yorkshire Humanists. For more information on Humanism, humanist principles and Humanists UK please see humanism.org.uk

©2020 Lisa Bourne Ceremonies

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