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Creating a meaningful wedding: incorporating memories and traditions after experiencing loss

Fast forward to 2024

Writing 2 years after I last heard my dad’s voice

I never really thought much about my ideal wedding and how the day would play out until my dad started to become unwell. It was then that I was struck by the possibility of him not being there for certain milestones.

fire abandon thread GIF

I remember contemplating (even before we were engaged) the idea of trying to get pregnant to give my dad the chance to see his ‘grandkids’. I quickly abandoned that idea, as it would have meant bringing someone into this world for the ‘wrong’ reasons for me.

Attending other weddings before ours…

There were other occasions at my friends’ weddings where I would see them dancing with their dads or being walked down the aisle. These moments made me really emotional. It was a happy moment, but also felt like a big slap in the face that brought me straight back to reality. 

Thoughts around ‘that would never be me’ crossed my mind more often than not

Every time, it was as if I lost him all over again. The happiness for my friends was genuine, but it was always accompanied by a bit of sadness, a reminder of what I would never have.

Traditions

I tried to understand why these events made me feel sad, and I came to the conclusion that it’s based on traditions and how generations before me have shaped expectations around certain events.

These traditions often involve being surrounded by people you love and the things those loved ones are expected to do on special days. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of certain traditions and the meaning they bring. However, in this case, these traditions highlihted the void in my own experience and expectations

Let’s remember some of the traditions of the Western world around weddings:

• The father of the bride walks the bride down the aisle.

• The bride shares a dance with her dad.

• The dad gives a speech about his daughter.

Even though I would have chosen to do some of these traditions differently, there was something that I no longer had: the choice.

The choice of deciding whether I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle was no longer available. It was a fact that would never happen.

So, as you can imagine, in the months leading up to our wedding day, thinking about that aisle moment made me uncomfortable, anxious, and sad at times. I didn’t want to become a sentimental mess walking down the aisle or be unable to speak. It is fair to say I was overthinking.

Overthinking GIF by ROCAFUERTE THE DESTROYER

The good side of overthinking is that you can PREPARE

So I decided to focus on the joy and love our wedding day will bring and we decided to…

Create our own traditions 🤘 

My partner and I discussed how to make the day special and inclusive of my dad’s memory without overwhelming me with sadness.

So…

  1. I asked my mum to walk me down the aisle, this was always going to be the case. If I could have had it my way, I would have chosen to be walked by. my mum and dad, together.

Mum walking me down the aisle

  1. Incorporated small, meaningful elements into the ceremony. My auntie, who was also our officiant spoke some beautiful words mentioning the loved ones that were not with us on that day

Therefore, thanking you for this loving appointment that you made in me to officiate this ceremony, representing not only both families and our ancestors, who have already left this world and who are also present here, in our hearts, celebrating with us the magic of love . On behalf of them, our loved ones, of us here present, of you, the couple, and of those who will come from you later...

Extract of ceremony script
  1. My best friend gave a speech during our wedding about our friendship and how we have been together through thick and thin. She mentioned my dad which was so thoughtful of her.

Friend giving her speech

  1. During our joint speech, my partner mentioned the first time he met my dad and mentioned he wished he was here. He made it sound very light hearted with some jokes here and there, which it helped not to get too emotional about it.

Joint speech

  1. Remember the watch story? My partner wore that watch on our wedding day

The gifted watch

  1. My now husband also gifted me a locket necklace with a picture of my mum and dad on their wedding day. They divorced pretty quickly (lol) but that is not the point of this. It is more to have something meaningful, to remind me of the people who decided to bring me into this weird world we live in.

Locket

  1. My sister was there with me, supporting me and keeping me company. I am sure my dad would have been jumping with happiness if he was able to see us together in such a moment. It is nice to do things I know he enjoyed and he really did a good job forming a bond between us.

Sisters from the same mister

TLDR version:

These preparations didn’t erase the melancholy, but they helped me feel more in control and allowed me to honor my dad in a way that felt right whilst enjoying myself.

Whilst my friend spoke about my dad during her speech, a little white butterfly 🦋 fluttered over to the flower vase next to me. I know it was just a coincidence, but I like to imagine it was him telling me, “I am here in spirit”. It gave me comfort.

The wedding was beautiful, meaningful and fun. I loved having everyone I love in one place. I am so lucky.

How can I prepare for a big event when I’m feeling overwhelmed?

1. Embracing Traditions with Personal Touches:

Traditions can hold deep emotional significance and sometimes highlight the absence of loved ones. By incorporating personal touches and creating new traditions, you can honour the past while making the day meaningful

2. Finding Strength in Support and Preparation:

Navigating the emotions leading up to significant events can be challenging, but with thoughtful preparation and the support of loved ones, it’s possible to find strength and comfort.

3. Presence in Absence:

Even in the physical absence of a loved one, their presence can be felt through meaningful gestures and symbols. Finding ways to honor and remember loved ones can bring a sense of closeness and peace during important life moments.

See you soon and don’t be shy, say hi over email, Instagram or Facebook!

Fernanda

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