What Are Some Strategies for Planning a Wedding if the Bride or Groom’s Parent is no Longer Living?

What Are Some Strategies for Planning a Wedding if the Bride or Groom’s Parent is no Longer Living?

From a psychological perspective, marriage is , in part, about separation from one’s family. It’s about making your partner your number one most important person. For most people, up until the point of engagement, one or both parents fill that role. This transition can feel incomplete when a fiancé and a beloved parent have never met because of a parent’s earlier death. The engagement and wedding may trigger difficult feelings of grief and may make the loss of a parent feel more acute, even if it happened many years ago.

It is sometime therapeutic to imagine and then write about exactly what you think your parent would say to your fiancé, if they met. What do you imagine your parent would tell you about their impressions of your fiancé? It can also feel meaningful to share stories about your parent with your fiancé and ask them what they imagine they would want to tell or ask your parent if they could have met. Such conversations can feel painful, but they also keep your parent’s memory alive and can generate greater intimacy.

Most brides and grooms who have a parent who has died will choose to include words about their parent in a program. And many will also choose someone to read a poem or give remarks in their loving memory. Many wedding venues will also allow framed photographs to be a part of the décor in addition to flowers. I have worked with several clients who have made this decorative choice in order to include a scattering of family photos, including those of a parent who is no longer living. This gesture allows guests – both those who knew the father or mother of the bride or groom – and those who have not had the privilege to experience this relationship – to feel that your loved one is honored and remembered and cherished.

Elisabeth LaMotte

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