How to Honor a Deceased Brother at a Wedding

gladiolus image by Igor Zhorov from

Weddings are sometimes bittersweet occasions. It's wonderful to celebrate your commitment to the love of your life, but joy can be tempered by sorrow if you're missing a loved one who is no longer around to celebrate with you. If your missing loved one is your brother, there are several ways to honor him at your wedding, both during the ceremony and at the reception. However you honor your brother's memory, you will feel better knowing that he is still an important part of your life.

Add something to your wedding program in honor of your brother. Include a stanza from his favorite poem, a photo of the two of you as children or simply a line reading, “In loving memory of John Smith, who is in our hearts on this happy day.” Use the program to announce that a particular song or reading during the ceremony is in honor of your brother.

Honor your brother through your choice of wedding flowers. Include a single white flower in your bouquet or boutonniere in your brother's memory. Use flowers and herbs in your arrangements that symbolize “remembrance,” such as gladiolus, statice and rosemary.

Include something in your wedding costume that used to belong to your brother. Carry one of his handkerchiefs or tie his class ring to the handle of your wedding bouquet if you are the bride. Wear his wristwatch or a pair of his cuff links if you are the groom.

Display a framed photo of your brother, either at the altar or at the reception. You may choose to have a collection of such photographs featuring every one of your departed loved ones. Select cheerful photographs showing the subjects during happy times, especially if you or your new spouse are also in the pictures.

Adapt the military custom of the “Missing Man formation” and honor your brother through the space he has left vacant. If he would have been one of your attendants, leave a 3- to 4-foot gap between two of the groomsmen in the lineup. Have the caterer set an empty place for him at the attendants' or family table at the reception; turn the glassware upside down for this table setting, and lay a single white rose across the plate.