Honoring Your Loved Ones on Your Wedding Day


I get the question all the time… How can I honor our lost loved ones on our wedding day? This question speaks right to my heart. While planning our wedding, my husband Jonathan and I KNEW this was something we wanted to do. It was so important!

On September 22, 2015, Jonathan’s mom, Pam Goodman Whitley, lost her battle with Polycystic Kidney Disease. It was a long battle. One kidney transplant, weeks, months, and years of dialysis, a heart valve replacement, many nights in the hospital, and so many other appointments. She never complained, never lost her smile or zest for life.

I will never forget the moment the doctor told us this was the end for her… She looked right at me and said “I won’t get to come to your wedding!!” Y’all… it broke my heart but I looked at her and thought “this woman is CRAZY!!!” Jonathan and I were only DATING at this time (it was another 2 years after this before we even got engaged). It’s so funny to think back now.. it’s like she KNEW we were going to be together.

There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of her and miss her so much. If there is one thing we could have changed about our wedding day, it would have been that she could have been there.

That’s why it was so important to us to honor her and our other lost loved ones in any way that we could.

Here is how we did that:

  • The mother’s chair… that first chair on the right side of the aisle was deemed the mother of the groom’s chair. We made sure this was reserved for her. We took a sweet boxwood wreath from Hobby Lobby and attached a frame with her picture. We made a sign saying “Reserved for Pam Goodman Whitley- Mother of the Groom.” It was such a beautiful chair decoration and fit perfect with our theme! I loved turning around after the big smooch at the end of the ceremony and feeling like she was smiling down on us!

  • Hot pink roses placed by loved ones… Her favorite color was hot pink (or really any shade of pink). We bought hot pink roses and asked any friend or family that was part of the wedding processional to take a rose and place it on her chair as they came down the aisle. I heard there wasn’t a dry eye in the house! This was a special moment in the ceremony for everyone to remember her.

Miranda and Jonathan Wedding - Yasmin Leonard Photography-570.jpg
Miranda and Jonathan Wedding - Yasmin Leonard Photography-571.jpg
  • Remember that wreath for the chair? We used it during our family pictures. The groom held it for some photos and we have LOVED looking back on those memories. Pictured with Jonathan are his dad and brother.

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Miranda and Jonathan Wedding - Yasmin Leonard Photography-317.jpg
  • We know you’d be here today, if heaven wasn’t so far away…. We made this sweet sign to hang pictures on for all of our loved ones we have lost. We chose to do this type of sign in order to save money from having so many picture frames to buy and to take up another table in the reception barn would have been a little cluttered.

  • Surprise bridal portrait photos for the groom… I had bridal portraits taken at our venue and the day before they were set to take place, I found Pam’s bridal portrait! I got SO excited! I decided to take it with me and have Yasmin take some pictures of me with her picture. They turned out SO sweet and Jonathan LOVED it! I hope my future children look back at these photos!

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  • The bouquet charm- One of the sweetest additions! I had a bouquet charm made by The Heavenly Hangers on Etsy. It made me feel like I was carrying a piece of her with me all day and night! She was with us the WHOLE day!

  • The pin for the groom- I had this pin made for the groom, also from The Heavenly Hangers on Etsy! I gave this to Jonathan as a wedding gift at the rehearsal dinner! He absolutely loved it! We plan on putting it in a shadow box with the bouquet charm and hanging it in our house (maybe we will get this done ONE DAY). Pictured are his mom, Pam, and his grandma, Marie! This pin was inside his suit and next to his heart all day and night. I think I my heart might explode just thinking of how sweet and sentimental that turned out!

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If there is any last advice I could give to couples for their wedding days and honoring their loved ones, I would say just do whatever feels right to YOU! If you don’t want to do a memorial table, then DON’T! If you want to buy frames and put them on a table then DO IT! If you want to send birds flying in the sky.. DO IT! It is YOUR wedding day and you need to do what feels special for the two of you! There are so many possibilities to make it special for YOU!

And if you’re lucky enough to have all of your family there for your wedding day, don’t you for ONE SECOND take that for granted.

Wishing all the engaged couples many years of love and happiness.


Miranda Whitley

Owner- Every Last Detail

Photographer: Yasmin Leonard Photography

Venue: Danner Farms, Statesville, NC