"At joyous occasions such as this, it is right and fitting to honor those who have been important in (bride) and (groom's) lives, but are unable to be here this day. We hold their absent loved ones, especially (names), fondly in our hearts at this hour of commitment."
I do offer two pieces of advice for couples who feel an absentee statement would be appropriate in their ceremony:
1. Sometimes losses and absences are so raw they can introduce unwelcome emotions in the midst of the normal emotional upheaval already associated with weddings. The mention of a particular name can potentially result in wracking sobs rather than engender a poignant smile.
2. The absentee statement works best when including just a few people by name. Listing more than about four or five names can get a bit tedious and bogs down the gracious eloquence of the absentee statement.
I recommend couples in the above situations simply omit the clause with individuals' names from the statement or explore other ways of honoring their loved ones.
HONORING THE DECEASED
1. Place a flower on an empty seat in the front row or on a small table displaying a photograph of the deceased.
2. Light a memorial candle at a ritually appropriate moment. As an alternative, I recently officiated a wedding that included an environmentally safe balloon release as a memorial.
3. Choose a passage of scripture, poem or selection of prose meaningful to the deceased for a reading.
4. Use music meaningful to the deceased. This can include choices for the processional and/or recession or background music during a memorial candle lighting or flower placement.
5. Carry or wear a memento from the deceased. I once had a groom carry his dad's pocket watch and have had several brides mention their jewelry was from a cherished relative.
6. Wear a locket, either as a pendant or a pin, with the deceased's photo inside.
7. Florists will be happy to assist with attaching a locket or memento to the bridal bouquet or designing a lovely memorial table.
As mentioned above, I do recommend serious consideration be given to how the deceased are honored in a wedding. If the mention of an absence would detract from the joy of the occasion, I recommend simply carrying an item that reminds you of the person or setting up a memorial table at the reception site.
Music is also an incredibly powerful emotional trigger. Take care when choosing music that may evoke intense feelings of grief on your special day.
Special thanks to Jana Martin Photos and Buds, Etc. for the fantastic images.