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Planning A Wedding When Someone Is Missing

Guest article by Keely Thompson and Tamryn Lawrence. Image credit Heline Bekker Photography (full shoot here)

Planning a wedding is supposed to be a joyful, wonderful and dreamy time. You should be feeling the love, having fun and generally adoring every minute. However, that’s not always the case. Complicated families, difficult decisions and any number of personal issues can make the build-up to the big day less than easy. 

But planning a wedding when someone is missing can be even tougher. If you’ve lost a parent or parental figure, then the wedding planning process can easily open old wounds and bring back all the grief and emotion that you might have thought had passed. 

If this is the situation that you’re facing right now, we want you to know that you’re not alone. Other brides and grooms are feeling what you’re feeling and today, we’re handing the blog over to Keely Thompson, GreenAcres Marketing Manager who has recently ridden this emotional rollercoaster herself:

Getting married can be one of the most stressful events of your life, so planning a wedding following the bereavement of someone significant is not only difficult, but it can also  be emotionally distressing and quite painful.

Whether it is a Mother, Father, sibling, child or friend the whirlwind of emotions that you’ll feel can overshadow a typically joyous occasion with  a depressing dark cloud, particularly in the lead upto the event.

You know that you should be excited, everyone else is talking about how great it’s going to be and yet you are angry, upset and at best underwhelmed by the whole event. This is, of course, not because you no longer want to marry the love of your life, quite the contrary –  it is because that special person, now departed, will no longer feature in that day as planned. 

Perhaps they were your confidante and you know that any of the stresses leading up to that day would have been quelled by their humour, wisdom or friendly ear. Perhaps they also wanted to see you get married or you simply loved them unconditionally and would always have had them at the top of your guest list.

But, however much you wish it wasn’t so, the reality hits you. Your special person has not been simply passive over the past few months. They have actually gone and will never return.

I remember perusing websites in my grief seeing gifts for ‘Mother of the Bride,’ and thinking well, they’re not applicable to me. When I read articles and viewed images about ‘Mothers of the Bride,’ it actually made me want to stop whatever activity I was doing and just give up. 

A friend of mine, who was also grieving and planning her wedding focussed all her energy on organising her big day which to her was a welcome distraction.  I on the other hand, decided to take a week off work prior to the event so I could allow myself to focus solely on the wedding, something I was struggling to do at the time. During this time seldom did I see any article that articulated or resonated with how I, or indeed my friend, felt leading up to the big day. The truth was who would want to publish about two diametrically opposed emotions in a wedding blog and who would read it? Who wants to read about sadness, grief and heart-breaking emotion when planning a wedding?

Well, I thought, there must be others who have or are going through grief while planning a wedding, so I decided to start typing. This was my therapy. I could make sense of my feelings and express everything I needed to. Words help, and words can heal.

Thankfully, when the big day finally arrived, all I could think about was marrying the love of my life. I was also reminded of how lucky I was to be surrounded by all the lovely people who came to support us both. Of course I thought about my missing person on my wedding day but that’s how it should be. It’s a day for love.

If you’re in a similar situation, here are some helpful tips that I found useful on my journey. I appreciate that everyone is different, and they won’t appeal to you all. But, one or point points might just get you thinking about how you can keep the people that you’re missing involved in planning for your wedding and  the big day itself.

1) Make your special person part of your wedding day
I had some of Mum’s ashes made into jewellery/items we could wear on the day. I chose a pendant for myself and my daughter and cufflinks for my son.

2) Go easy on yourself
The last two months before my wedding were very difficult. I became ill on a regular basis and realised I was run down. Take time off as and when you can, get early nights and plenty of rest. Eat healthy meals and exercise to give you a boost mentally and physically. 

3) Delegate
I didn’t accept help initially as I kept telling myself my Mum was supposed to do this with me, so I will just do it alone now. Only at the end did I realise how much easier and nicer it was to share some of the tasks with my fabulous bridesmaids and their enthusiasm soon started to rub  off on me.

4) Don’t rule out a Hen Do
I didn’t have it in me to even begin to think about a hen do – my Mum died three days after Christmas, her funeral was in January and my wedding was on the 4
th of June. Thankfully, my bridesmaids and amazing friends knew me well and decided to throw me a surprise hen party, even roping my hubby to be in to keep it secret from me.

5) Prepare a running order and then give it to your Maid of Honour
You will get phone calls from suppliers about times and who is arriving when on the morning of the big day and  it can be very overwhelming when all you can think about is your loved one not being there. Set time aside to write a running order for the day or ask your wedding venue co-ordinator to help and pass it to your Maid of Honour.

My advice would always be that  wedding days are such a blessing and create memories that will stay with you forever, cherish every moment and remember why you said yes! Finally, enjoy the day and remember people want to help xx

We hope that if you’re planning a wedding when someone is missing that this feature might have reassured you, made you feel less alone and given you advice, ideas and hope in equal measure. Please also remember that if there’s anything we can do to help you when you’re planning your wedding, you only need ask.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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