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Incorporating loved ones into your special day

By Amy Wright | Aug 8, 2022

Happy days are destined to roll around even if you recently lost someone you love dearly. You may also plan a big event with the assumption that everyone you love will show up only to find out at the last minute that a parent, grandparent, sibling, best friend, or other loved one can’t make it. You can’t call off your wedding or delay graduation due to these events, but you can find a creative way to include your loved one on your special day.

How do you do that? We have some suggestions that may help you come up with the right approach for your event and the current circumstances.

Reserve a spot for that special someone

One of the simplest and most common ways to incorporate missing loved ones into a special event is to reserve them a seat. A framed print or canvas print of your loved one and place it on a chair. Allow close family members and friends to sit around the picture so that your loved one is a part of the event rather than pushed to the side.

You can leave it at the chair or take it a step further and put a place setting on the table with your loved one’s favorite drink in the cup. Everyone at your special event can take a moment to greet your guest of honor, and it may bring them just as much peace as it does you.

Framed print of old couple placed on a chair

Wear or carry something that belongs to your loved one

A groom may wear a favorite silk tie of the family when he walks down the aisle. A bride may wear her grandmother’s pearl hairpin during the wedding reception. You may wear your husband’s watch to your birthday party if he can’t attend the special night. There are endless options here, depending on what you have that was once cherished by your loved one.

Keeping a piece of someone you love close to your heart is one of the best ways to feel their presence around you. You might even consider having a small token of their love placed inside a charm necklace or bracelet so that you can wear the jewelry on special occasions.

What if you don’t have something that your loved one once possessed? You can pin a small picture of them to your clothing or tuck it into your pocket. Anything that reminds you of them should work.

Commemorative guests table


If you have multiple people missing from your special day, reserve one table as a commemorative reminder of those loved ones. You can use a decorative tablecloth and place framed prints of your special guests surrounded by flower petals or small glass jars with lit candles. You may even want to add small paragraphs with each person’s name and something special that you miss about them.

If you have someone particularly special to commemorate, you might want to establish a similar table for just one person. Leave index cards or small pieces of paper plus ink pens or colored pencils on the table beside a small decorative jar. Encourage guests to write short messages to your commemorative guest and leave them in the jar. You’ll have a special gift that reminds you how special this person was to so many people.

Share thoughtful words or a toast

If your event is going to have a moment for toasts or speeches from loved ones, you can include a toast or special words for your loved one. If it’s a happy event like a graduation party or a wedding day, try to infuse some humor into the speech or share happy memories. If the event is a funeral, then you may feel comfortable expressing deep emotions to show how much you wish they were present.

If you aren’t sure how to write a speech that is appropriate or that speaks to your authentic emotions, you can use a poem or passage from a book. You may even want to share words from something your loved one wrote to you, going back in time with their own words. If you want to write something personally but struggle to find the words, pretend you’re writing a letter to your loved one directly. Whatever you would say to them can be edited into something you want to say about them quite easily.

Wear or incorporate their scent


What was grandma’s favorite fragrance or your mom’s favorite perfume? Do you always think about your dad when you smell motor oil or Old Spice? Maybe roses make you think of your mother or sister or daughter. Think of the aromas that remind you of the people you love, and then incorporate those smells into your special event.

You can do this by wearing perfumes, lotions, and colognes similar to their favorites. Another option is to diffuse essential oils into the room to introduce the scent throughout the event. Just make sure you don’t have guests who are sensitive to fragrances before going that route.

What are your unique ways of incorporating people you love into your special days? Share some of your ideas to help others keep their loved ones close at heart as they celebrate life’s big moments.

Canvas prints of wedding in living room

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