To the bride who is getting married after the loss of a loved one,
You are making plans to marry the love of your life and you're happy but you also have this uneasy feeling in your stomach. You're excited but dreading your wedding day too. How will you feel? Will you miss them too much? Will you have an emotional breakdown?
Friend, I've been there and I've felt those things and it's going to be okay. My mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage 4 brain cancer and she passed away four months before my wedding. I kept myself busy by making plans and checking off my to do list and put off dealing with her loss in a way. I knew I wanted to honor my mom but I didn't want this giant reminder that she wasn't there on my wedding day either. I spent a day at an antique shop which is one of my favorite things to do. I picked out a gold locket and decided that I would honor my mom by attaching it to my bouquet. It was a subtle reminder that she was "with me" and when I missed her I would hold onto or look at my favorite pictures of her placed inside. When it was time to choose the photos for the locket the loss of her caught up with me and I broke down. It's okay to do that. You can find several ways to honor your lost loved one here.
I encourage you to confide in someone and discuss what you are afraid of and dreading when it comes to your wedding day and your loved one not being there. Don't chose a way to honor them if you feel like it may be hard for you to witness. Also, don't ignore the issue and act like it doesn't exist. By discussing my concerns with my now husband I emotionally prepared myself for what I might feel on my wedding day. I was also worried about who would help me get into my dress. Traditionally your mom does this and the photographer captures that special moment and I feared for how that would make me feel. I discussed this with my maid of honor. She knew my fear and was there for me. I'll never forget how much that meant to me.
I also think it's important to note that you should still take the time to be excited and make plans. Don't let that fear steal the joy of such an exciting time in your life. I'm sure your loved one wouldn't want you to sit out on celebrating your engagement.
When the wedding day came I just remember being so happy. I was excited to marry the love of my life and I was overwhelmed by the love others showed us. So many of our friends and family traveled just for us and I didn't take that lightly. It was also the first time since my mom's funeral that we were all together again and my heart is full when I can spend time with friends and family. I have hope that you will feel the same way too. Things have a way of working out. I planned to walk down the aisle by myself. Our little two year old girl who had been excited about her flower girl duties for the past year had other plans. She refused to be the flower girl and she grabbed my hand and walked me down the aisle. That will probably always be one of the best moments of my life.
I may or may not know you but I want you to know you can email me if you feel like you need to talk about these things. I'm happy to do that. I have had the honor of planning weddings for brides who have also lost their mother and I was happy to help them navigate that difficult time. I think people come in and out of our lives for a purpose and it comforts me to know the loss of my mom is helping others. She would have been proud of that. I think it is important to communicate family dynamic and losses to your wedding vendor team too so they can be sensitive to these situations. I hope this provides some peace and comfort to you. I leave you with this quote from This Is Us. "You see, for days, I've been plagued by the question: how do I honor my father's legacy? Then I realized, I honor his legacy by taking what I learned from the way he lived his life and use it to shape the way I go on living mine." -Randall, This Is Us
All my love,
Photography: Jessica Lea Photography