Updated: Feb 21
I'll start with this, if a parent is missing from your wedding, I am so sorry.
A wedding is one of the biggest days of your life, and one that should be filled with everyone important to you gathering around with love and excitement. But what happens when one, or both, of your parents aren't there? It could be because of a passing, a choice made to be absent, or because they aren't able to travel to the wedding's destination. There are many factors that play in when this happens, they are emotional, logistical, financial, and even physical because you have more work to do, as the bride, without them there.
This is a hard topic, but I hope from my experience coordinating weddings with absent parents, and even my own wedding where my parents weren't there, can help you as you prepare for your big day.
Remember Those Who Aren't There
Getting married after a loss of a loved one is so hard. It is not a pain I have experienced but I have had several brides who are planning their wedding and their mom or dad is gone. I see the pain in their eyes when they talk of their wedding and just wish their mom was going to be there.
It is important to do what you feel emotionally best with when honoring a lost loved one leading up to, and on, your wedding day. This looks differently for everyone, so do what feels right to you.
Some brides wear the jewelry that their mom wore when she got married, others attach a small photo of their mom in their wedding bouquets. I did a wedding once where the mother of the bride had passed and the bride used her favorite photo of her, framed it, and sat in in the mother of the bride seat in the front of the church.
Another couple had lost a grandparent, and sat a red rose in the place they would have sat had they been there.
For my something borrowed and something blue, my sister-in-law pinned a tiny gold and blue angel to my wedding dress that was from a dearly loved grandmother who had recently passed. It was a very special and touching moment, and the angel was trailing along with me my entire wedding day.
Take time before your wedding and think about what feels right to you when honoring a parent or loved one who has passed.
Handling The Joy, Grief, And Hardships While Still Celebrating
There are a lot of emotional and logistical things to juggle when parents and loved ones are absent. Whatever the reason for them not being there, it is hard and I am sorry.
I have a wedding coming up and the father of the bride has recently passed. The pain and grief the family is going through just breaks my heart. It is a mixture of knowing their father would want the joy, celebration, and fanfare of a wedding, but also mixing that with the devastation of the bride that her dad won't be there to see it or walk her down the aisle.
My parents weren't at my wedding. There was a grieving process for me before the wedding where I had to think about all the memories that they wouldn't be there for.
For me, it worked out best to work through the emotions of their absence before the wedding day itself.
There were still times though, through the whole wedding planning process, where I wished that they were there. And in those moments, I just stopped what I was doing and honored the pain and let myself take a moment to be sad.
Then, I would take a deep breath, and keep enjoying all of the good and great moments around me. I loved my wedding planning process, the engagement party, dress shopping, bridal showers, rehearsal dinner, and of course, the wedding day. It was so magical and special.
Don't let the absence of others rob you of the joy your wedding day deserves.
Enjoy every single second no matter what is happening around you. These are memories you can't get back.
When They Can't Travel In
In times such as these, traveling has become a lot more complex than it used to be. Often, guests physically can't travel to weddings because of health concerns or restrictions. How do you have a wedding when the people most important to you aren't there?
My answer is this, take time to include them. Livestream your wedding ceremony, and keep them included for the reception. Maybe have them pre-record a speech or toast, maybe have them on a screen somewhere celebrating with you on the livestream. Be creative and think of ways to include them even though they might be thousands of miles away.
There will be an abundance of joy and excitement surrounding your wedding. Enjoy all of them without guilt. Your loved ones would want you to be the happiest you could possible be.
There will also be times of unsolvable grief and loss as you think of the one who isn't there to celebrate with you. When that happens, honor those feelings and don't feel bad for feeling joy or sadness. It is ok to feel and experience both.
But most importantly, enjoy your wedding!