How to Involve and Honour Lost Loved Ones and Family Members On Your Wedding Day

It is a sad fact that breast cancer and other diseases affect brides, grooms and their wedding days in many different and individual ways. It certainly had a presence at my own wedding. My husband-to-be's mother, Kerstin, was unable to come to our wedding. She lived in Sweden and the travel would have exhausted her. We did discuss another celebration in Stockholm, but she was at a stage in her treatment that meant leaving the house was far too difficult. This was sad for her and for us.

Hannah and Freddie on their wedding day

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Ed Peers


I know we are not alone with having to face this problem. Working at the Breast Cancer Partnership, I meet brides, mother-of-the-brides, grandmothers and, of course, mother-of-the-grooms who are all battling breast cancer.  So, I thought it might be helpful to list a few of the things we did to involve Kerstin in our wedding day. 

I hope that these ideas help any of you with a family member unable to be at your wedding, and would love to know how you have coped with or are planning to cope with a similar situation?


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The service… having spent quite a bit of time getting to know our vicar, he knew all about Freddie's mum and why she couldn't be there. He mentioned her in the service and included her in the prayers. This was a real comfort and brought her into the ceremony in a very natural and genuine way. He also suggested sending her an Order of Service so that she felt equally involved in the day and our marriage.


The look and feel of the day… When planning a wedding, the look and feel is so absorbing! Kerstin couldn't be involved like my own mum when getting things ready, so I told her what we were doing and planning when I saw her. And Freddie told her many of the details and developments over the phone in the lead up. Our florist was fantastic and also suggested we send her a wax corsage based on our own flowers. My mum sent it to her, with a note, and she had it in time for the day and could wear it if she chose to. 

Freddie as a baby in LA with his mother Kerstin and sister Helene…


Meeting everyone… Kerstin was such a fun and involving person. As she couldn't be there, we invited one of her very best friends, Hilkka. Hilkka was a witness alongside my mum, sat next to my dad at the reception and flirted with the best men. Amongst others. Then she flew over to see Kerstin, and told her all about it. Including a completely inappropriate but typical crush on my dad. I can just imagine them talking about it in gales of laughter.

Freddie on his wedding day, with Hilkka, his Mother Kerstin's best friend…

The reception… my dad and Kerstin never met. But he knows Freddie well, and so as we were filming the event he addressed her in his speech. He let her know that she had done a tremendous job in raising him and that she should be proud. Freddie similarly spoke to her in his speech, thanking her and regretting she could not be there. It was emotional, but joyful.



The overall experience… A friend of ours filmed the whole day. Freddie flew to see Kerstin within weeks of the wedding and took her a complete unedited version of the film. They sat together and watched it in two halves. This is one of the last things they did together before she died later that summer. And we are ever grateful to our friends for filming it and making it possible.

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 Get support
If you or a family member are experiencing breast cancer, or you just want to know how to prevent it, please visit the Breast Cancer Partnership.

Freddie's Mother Kerstin as a young woman in the 1960's…


For further information, visit he Breast Cancer Partnership website.  You can also follow the Breast Cancer Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much,



Hannah works for the Breast Cancer Partnership.  Her wedding also featured here on Love My Dress.  You may also wish to read 'A Simple Act of Kindness and Generosity' and 'With or Without You'


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.