I think memory tables at weddings are a beautiful tradition. It is a lovely sentiment to display photos and mementos of family members who had an impact on the bride and groom. These ancestors’ faces smile in approval from frames on tablecloths. The candles lit in their memory, or flowers set beside their photos make it feel as if they are present in spirit. Honoring them in this special way is a tribute to their importance in the shaping of the couple. A lineage displayed. The heartbeat of both families coming together to intertwine as a tapestry.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how difficult it was emotionally to add Mom to the grouping of pictures. We debated how to best handle the situation. Hannah most definitely wanted her visible and honored, however, as a memory table, all the other photos were of people who are already gone. Even the wording of the sign for the table was difficult to figure out, because most sentiments are about those gone before. We found a good one, but it seems dementia is continually putting us in these kinds of uncomfortable positions.
We asked Dad what he would prefer and he sent me pictures of Mom and Hannah together from a trip to Seattle years ago to display, along with the prayer beads Mom used when Hannah went around the world. I also framed a more recent picture to sit next to Dad during the ceremony so that Mom could be “present” at an event she would have loved. The officiant included her in the remarks at the ceremony which was very sweet and a perfect tribute.
Because of the rain, the renamed “tribute” table had to be relocated to a gazebo in the garden which turned out to be the perfect place for it. Slightly removed from the reception space with all the activity, it was quiet and surrounded by the beauty of the garden. For all who went to look, it had the effect of being like a prayer table. I saw several groups go into the gazebo and sit on the benches there and stay for a bit as if they having a visit with the ancestors.
The table itself had pictures of both sets of Jimmy’s grandparents, an aunt, and an uncle who had passed, as well as a portrait of his mother’s grandmother dressed in a beautiful wedding gown on her wedding day. A fragile piece of the lace from the gown that had been passed down to generations of brides was draped around the picture. The pictures for Hannah included, Ray and Louise (Bill’s parents), my Aunt Betty, and Mom. The Bible Louise carried at her wedding was there and my Mom’s prayer beads. We sprinkled greenery and candles throughout.
To add some pattern and color Nancy, Jimmy’s mom, brought a beautiful piece of fabric they had picked up years ago on their travels to Africa. She said she didn’t realize it had words on it in Swahili, but that we could somehow drape it so they didn’t show. However, she had looked up the translation and it was something like ‘today is the day my son gets married.’ I got chills. Years prior to this day, she had gotten this cloth, in Africa, one of places Hannah had traveled, and unbeknownst to her, it was a marriage cloth? What are the chances? It was a God moment. We decided to put the words front and center. According to Google translate the words mean, “We are very happy today is the children’s wedding.” How cool is that?
I could not think of a more appropriate place to use that than on the tribute table. All the history of both families represented in artifacts and photos. Planned by the heavens years ago, the next generation proceeded to move the families forward. The new threads of an ancient tapestry, which goes back generations, were woven-in when the vows were spoken; just one more of the many beautiful moments from the wedding.