A blessing for a family member wedding feature is one that many couples consider, but choosing a blessing can be tricky and should be done carefully.
Reasons for a Blessing
Blessings are intimate events that can be part of a wedding ceremony, reception, or simply a private event on the wedding day. Couples may choose to incorporate blessings for several reasons, such as:
- Honoring a recently deceased family member's memory.
- Remembering people who can't be present because of illness, military deployment, etc.
- Include more people than just the bride and groom in the ceremony, such as children.
Whatever the reason a couple has for including a blessing, it is important to do so appropriately and discreetly so it does not detract from the core of the happy occasion - joining two loving people together.
Is a Blessing Appropriate?
A wedding is a happy event, and including multiple memorial tributes or blessings could make the mood very somber, perhaps making guests uncomfortable - after all, they were invited to a wedding, not a memorial service. If the blessing revolves around someone whom most guests do not know, it may be best as a private event rather than part of the public celebration. Furthermore, if the blessing is for a family member far removed from the time and date of the wedding - in remembrance of a parent who passed away several years ago, for example - it may not be understood and guests may get the wrong impression.
Even happy blessings can be inappropriate on a couple's wedding day. Including joyous recognition of other individuals - for an imminent birth, another engagement, etc. - will dilute the spirit of the wedding as focused on the newlywed couple. The bride and groom should not feel pressured to include formal blessings for family members in their ceremony, wedding toasts, or other festivities. Ultimately, however, the choice of whether or not to include a blessing is up to the couple. If they feel their day would not be complete without a blessing ritual, they should certainly include one, though there are many ways to do so that can keep the event appropriate and meaningful.
Family Member's Wedding Blessing
There are many ways to include both solemn and joyful blessings in wedding festivities.
A solemn blessing is generally in memory of a missing family member, friend, or other significant individual who cannot be part of the celebration. This may be because they have passed away, but it may also be due to illness or other necessary absences. Options for solemn blessings include:
- Incorporating that person's favorite hymn, psalm, or prayer into the wedding ceremony.
- Using their favorite music as part of the processional, recessional, or other wedding music.
- Placing an empty chair where they would have sat during the ceremony, reserved with a single flower or photograph.
- Offering a private blessing before or after the ceremony.
- Carrying a special bloom in the wedding flower bouquet or using something of theirs for the "something borrowed."
- Lighting a candle for the individual, perhaps as part of the unity candle ceremony to symbolize their connection to the couple.
- Visiting an individual's grave before or after the ceremony, perhaps leaving the bouquet or a single flower there.
- Visiting a sick individual with the officiant after the ceremony for a brief prayer and to help them be part of the special day.
The biggest key for a blessing for a family member wedding inclusion is to keep it simple and discreet. Guests may already be uncomfortable with such a solemn part of the ceremony, and adding multiple reminders throughout the event is sure to dampen the celebratory spirit. After all, the individual would want the couple to be happy on their wedding day, and while a simple blessing will bring the missing person closer to the event, too many solemn reminders will detract from that happiness.
Not all family member blessings are solemn. One popular option - particularly for second weddings - is to create a family ceremony when the children of the bride or groom are included and reassured that the new union is not just of two individuals, but of an entire family. Many officiants are happy to include family blessings in the ceremony, usually after the couple has exchanged individual vows. The additional family members are then invited to stand with the couple and a brief prayer or blessing is offered to unite the family. Couples can make this an even more significant event in several ways, such as:
- Engraving a medallion with the wedding date, names, and the promise of family togetherness. The medallion is then presented during the family unity blessing.
- Asking the children to participate in the wedding as part of the bridal party: young children can be ring bearers or flower girls, while older children can be junior bridesmaids, ushers, or groomsmen. A teenager may even be honored as the best man or maid of honor.
- Presenting the child with a meaningful item other than an engraved medallion. A boy may appreciate a new watch, while a girl may appreciate a bracelet or scaled-down version of the wedding ring.
- Having youngsters participate in the unity candle ceremony by adding additional candles for them to light as part of the whole family.
Whatever choice a couple makes, the blessing of including all family members when creating a new family is a wonderful way to share the joy of a wedding with everyone it affects.
Choosing Your Blessing
When choosing a blessing for a family member wedding event, the couple needs to focus on one critical factor: whether they feel it is a vital part of their special day. If the answer is no, the blessing should be private or discreet so guests may not even notice, but if the answer is yes, the wedding will be even more blessed by including everyone sacred to it.