Today’s guest blogger is a phenomenal women, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for about a year now. Nancy Loeffler is a grief journey-guide. She helps others navigate through difficult times in their lives, by helping them to accept and process their grief. As a wedding planner I’ve seen brides honor loved ones at their weddings in a variety of ways. I asked Nancy if she’d be interested in writing about celebration and grief for Emily Katherine Events; exploring the feelings surrounding the remembrance of loss on a joyous occassion. I am thrilled to share her words on celebration and grief with you today.

Celebration and Grief

by: Nancy Loeffler

I am honored to be writing this guest blog for Emily Katherine Events. You may think it strange for someone who does grief work to write a blog for a site that is all about celebration, but I invite you to hear me out and maybe you will change your mind.

We all look forward to weddings, graduations, and celebrations of the milestones of our lives. There are many aspects of loss that can impact these celebratory moments. For clarity today I will offer ways to bring comfort to a bride or groom on their wedding day.

We often live our lives with high expectations of how we will celebrate our wedding day. We know where we want our wedding to be, what our dress will look like, what colors and flowers we love, what we will eat, and who will be invited. We may collect images of all the aspects of our perfect wedding experience. We create our experience to capture our hopes, our dreams, and the happiness and joy of this major threshold event. What happens when our lives do not correspond to our dreams? Or when a life changing event, such as the loss of a loved one, threatens to cast a shadow on the special day? These life changing events may take us by surprise, and with a little forethought and planning, your wedding celebration can honor your loved ones without taking away anything from the enjoyment your day, and may in fact add a treasured memory.

As a bride or groom who have recently lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other close relative, you may have mixed feelings about your upcoming wedding and you may feel there is with a cloud of grief shrouding the special day. Even if the loss is not so recent, a wedding can bring feelings close to the surface and make it seem as if the loss was yesterday.

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Photo credit: Cindy McFarland Photography

Remembering a loved one during your Ceremony

There is often a time during a religious service to remember your loved ones. If you are having such a ceremony, take some time to think about how you would like to remember them. What advice do you think they might have for you on this day? What do you want them to know? What do you want your guests to know about them? If you are not having a traditional religious service, you can find a place in your ceremony where you can include a remembrance of your loved one.

Remembering a Loved One at the Reception

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Photo credit: Cindy McFarland Photography

At the reception you may want to include photos of your loved one with you or other members of the family. Place them on a table with other photos you have displayed.
You may also want to have a representation of your loved one included in your day. A lit candle, a single flower in a vase, or any symbol that is special to you.

You can make mention of your loved one during the prayer before the meal.

Music can also be a comfort. You can play a song that was meaningful to you and your loved one and tell of a memory about them before you play it. At my nephew’s wedding, I brought a recording of a song my dad liked and we gave it to the DJ to play with a few words of congratulations from grandpa.

Celebration and Grief- marigold garland

Photo Credit: Naomi Yata

 Other Ways to Remember Your Loved One

You might decide to carry something meaningful of theirs with you, or wear a special piece of jewelry.

Sometimes the bride and groom will visit the cemetery by themselves, if this if convenient.

As you can see, there are many elements that you can incorporate into your special day to honor your loved one. You can make it as unique as the relationship you shared with them.

We may worry that bringing up a loved one’s name at a happy occasion will put a damper on things. From my experience the opposite it true. Loss of a loved one is never easy, and trying to soldier on without mention of them can make our hearts heavier. We sometimes think that if we bring up our loved one’s name it will remind others of their loss. Our lost loved ones are especially on our minds as a milestone event approaches, such as a wedding. Honoring them on your wedding day in a way that brings their memory alive for you will contribute the specialness of your day.



Nancy Loeffler is the founder of Being With Grief. As a mother who lost her 17 yr. old daughter 15 years ago she fully understands the territory of grief. She helps her clients navigate their own grief journeys so they can live meaningful and even joyful lives again.

Nancy is the author of the soon to be published book,

The Alchemy of Grief: Your Journey to Wholeness
For information about the launch, readings and signings sign up for her newsletter via her website.