Promotion: October’s Advice From the Pros Answers

As we revealed last week, Jennifer Mitchell submitted this month’s Advice From the Pros winning question: “Besides displaying photographs at the reception, what is a unique way to honor a deceased parent?” Here's what our team of experts had to say.

Phyllis Jablonowski, Eventricity: “Honoring a deceased parent may take many forms. Certainly photos are the most palpable memorial. However, a host of options remain. Consider placing a distinct chair cover on a chair at the ceremony with a delicate rose draped across the seat or simple floral ribbon-tied to the back in the deceased favorite colors. A prayerful notation is always appropriate whether or not a ceremony is religious. This can be in as neutral form as thanking the loved one for the treasure that he or she was while they were with the family. Or, more formally, the officiant can offer a prayer of thanksgiving for his or her life and pray for their peaceful repose of their soul.

“The reception offers more alternatives. Consider a brief but poignant toast that regales the relationship between the deceased and the bride or groom. Also, it is not unusual to have a close family member, in lieu of a deceased loved one, dance with the bride or groom to music that had great meaning. The master or mistress of ceremonies gives a brief explanation of the meaning behind the music and the dance. There have been couples that want to adorn a place setting at the reception with black swags or chair covers. Avoid this temptation as the focus at a wedding is the celebration of life and the thankfullness for the gift that the deceased was to the family.”

Christopher Weidenhammer, Offshoots!: “The most important point in remembering a loved one is that it should speak to your individual relationship.

“For example; using a treasured piece of jewelry, or a heirloom handkerchief in the bridal bouquet is a beautiful and personal way to honor their impact on your life, and keep their presence with you. Gentleman can use the same approach, by using a Fathers, or Grandfathers pocket watch, or cufflinks.

“Incorporating a Service Medal, of a lost family member who served in the Military can also be an honorable, and touching way to incorporate their memory. It should be personal to you, and sometimes as simple as keeping a deceased parents wedding ring in your pocket, or choosing the their favorite flower in your bouquet can keep their spirit present. Even if no one else knows.”

Eric Allen and Elizabeth Knox, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia: “Although a wedding is one of the most momentous occasions of one’s life, celebrating without a beloved parent member can be difficult and poignant. It is important to recall and honor deceased parents at some point in the festivities without sadness overwhelming the day.

“Some couples light a memory candle in homage to the parent, or include a favorite poem or memorable story in the ceremony’s agenda. Another possible idea is that following the wedding, the bride and groom can elect to send flowers from the reception to the burial site of the deceased as a way of including them in the special day. Of course, it is always a personal touch to wear an article of clothing or jewelry belonging to the departed family member. Finally, why not incorporate their favorite recipe — such as Mom’s Homemade Apple Pie — into your menu at the reception? This will allow all of your guests to enjoy a special dish in honor of your mother or father.”