In Memoriam

The Wedding Guru Judy Lewis fields this week’s wedding questions. Today: In Memoriam

Second marriages sometimes involve either a widow, widower, or both. Such weddings, especially when there are children in the family, may bring special challenges. When the widow or widower act with sensitivity and forethought, these issues can be resolved in a way that will suit everyone in question.

Henry asks: “I was sure that both my children and I were excited about my upcoming marriage, until my oldest daughter, sixteen, came to me in tears. What she shared with me was her sadness about what she called our “forgetting about mom.” I assured her that I would never forget her decreased mother and that her mom’s photos would always remain in our home. She said that wasn’t enough and that we should remember her mother during my second marriage ceremony. Have you any ideas about ways in which we could include my first wife without hurting the feeling of my soon-to-be wife and her family?”

Dear Henry: I’m sorry for your loss and can understand your daughter’s pain. In circumstances such as yours, bringing the memory of a loved one into the wedding ceremony is especially appropriate. What you need to be looking for is a happy medium between recognizing your deceased wife, while not taking away the joy that is the essence of your second wedding. The question is how to do so.

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Your daughter is old enough to work with you on creating a new ritual, or incorporating one that has been used in the past by others. One symbolic act can be as simple as lighting a candle. You can opt to announce the meaning behind the act, or you can explain it in your program. Perhaps there is a poem that you and your children feel is appropriate to be read as part of the ceremony. Some families include a prayer during the ceremony, while others opt to have the children place flowers on the altar as a part of the processional. Some people choose a less public, but no less significant alternative: Each of the children is given something to wear that belonged to the parent being memorialized. It will be up to you and your children to decide who will actively perform the ritual.

I should stress that whatever form you decide upon to memorialize your deceased wife, you need to get input and approval from your bride-to-be. If she is accepting your children as part of the “package” when she marries you, then she will probably not object to anything unless it’s morose and puts an unnecessary damper on the festivities. With that in mind, I suggest a line or two in your wedding program explaining the ritual and its meaning, so that your guests will understand and be able to share the moment with you.

Your objective should be predicated on your need to show your children, in a caring, significant way, that the memory of their mother is a part of the life you will build with them and your future wife.

Readers, what do you think? How have you commemorated a family member who is no longer with us?

To submit a question to “The Wedding Guru,” e-mail it to, or add a comment in the box below.

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