Jeff asks: “I have met the most wonderful woman in the world. I know I’m extraordinarily fortunate, because this is the second time it’s happened to me. My first wife passed away, in her late twenties. She left behind two young children. My fiancée, Fran, is fabulous. She and I have tried really hard and succeeded in keeping my first wife’s parents in the lives of the two children. They are and will always be my children’s grandparents.
Both Fran and I feel that at ages four and five, the children are too young to understand. However, for the sake of those grandparents and other members of my deceased wife’s family who will be guests at our wedding, we would like in some way to include her in the ceremony, with some kind of memoriam. We don’t want to put a pale on this happy day, but feel that something is appropriate. Can you make any suggestions of what we might do?”
Dear Jeff: You, and even more so your bride-to-be, are to be commended for your attitude. Be careful to keep mindful of how your bride will feel about the ritual you pick. It sounds to me from how you describe her that she probably won’t complain no matter what you do. She not complaining, however, doesn’t mean that her feelings aren’t being hurt.
That being said here are several “remembrance rituals.” You can light a candle on the altar and leave it lit during the ceremony. You can choose someone to read a poem that is reminiscent of whom your first wife was, or is about the fact that love isn’t ended with death. Another suggestion is to place a single white rose on the altar. Be careful not to get too morose. Whatever ritual or rituals on which you agree, it’s a good idea to put a short explanation in your wedding program. Close friends and family will, I trust, be moved by your gesture. Others will appreciate the explanation of the ritual and view it in a positive way.
I would suggest that to be on the safe side, you do not ask a close family member of your first wife’s to be actively involved in the ritual. A sobbing recitation would be uncomfortable both for the reader and for your guests. One day you’ll be able to show your children the video of your ceremony, as another way of remembering their deceased mother.
For more information about memorial rituals, check out “In Memoriam, Rituals for Remembering“ in the Wedding Guide on HudsonValleyWeddings.com, as well as the other articles under the “Second Weddings.” Or, read my earlier post about the same topic, “In Memoriam.”
Readers, what do you think? How have you commemorated a family member who is no longer with us? Add your comments or suggestions in the box below. To submit a question to “The Wedding Guru,” e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or add a comment in the box below.