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Wedding Wednesday – When Death Precedes A Wedding

I was wondering if you and your readers could offer your opinions for me. I was perusing a wedding site, and there was an article about “What to do if someone dies on your wedding day”.  Essentially, the poster’s grandma had passed the morning of her wedding, and the FOB called her to tell her. She now says that she wished she’d been told the next day, or lied to about what happened.

What would be the etiquette on this? I feel as though you should be told, but that is just me? 0318-17

In this age of  social media, the bride would have known about her grandmother’s death by reading about it from friend’s and family’s Facebook post or tweet.  Far better and more appropriate to learn of the news from her father early in the day.

A similar situation happened in my family many years ago.  The son of longtime family friends was getting married.  A week before the wedding, on a Saturday, the groom’s father had a fatal heart attack.   It was shocking and unexpected.   There were discussions as to whether to postpone the wedding but the decision was made to continue with the plans.   It was a large wedding and many guests were traveling from out of state to attend, all deposits had been made and were not refundable.   While a tragedy for the groom’s side of the family, the bride’s family and guests were not emotionally impacted by the death other than being sympathetic to the grief of the groom and his family.

The funeral was held on the following Wednesday and the wedding events commenced on Friday with the rehearsal and dinner and wedding and reception on Saturday.   Usual wedding antics like a bachelor party were subdued and there was some solemnity on the wedding day.    I’m certain Doug would have wanted his son to not postpone the long awaited wedding.

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • o_gal March 29, 2017, 5:59 am

    I agree with admin – hold the wedding but keep the wild celebrations to a minimum. At the very least, do not do what happened to a girl I knew in summer camp. At the end of the camp period, she was going to be taken straight to her cousin’s wedding. But a few days earlier, someone else in the family (an aunt maybe?) died. Since all the family was going to be there, they decided to combine the events, with a funeral in the morning followed by wedding in the afternoon. IMHO, at least have a day between the two!

    • Anonymous April 1, 2017, 7:44 pm

      Really?!?!?! That sounds like a sitcom plot–it could be funny on TV, but it’d be horrible in real life. Imagine going from the fun of summer camp, to feeling sad about leaving your friends, but then at least having a wedding to look forward to, but then, oh, no, Cousin died, funeral in the morning…..but there’s still a wedding in the afternoon, so we all have to be HAPPY for the HAPPY COUPLE!!! Actually, writing that out, that sounds like a series of prompts from the teacher in an acting class, but my point still stands–what a terrible idea. How did your friend take it?

      • o_gal April 3, 2017, 6:02 am

        I don’t know – it was typical summer camp friendship where person A goes off in 1 direction and person B goes off in opposite direction when camp ends. It wasn’t cousin who died, it was someone else more distant to her in the family, and while she was sad, she wasn’t that broken up about it. I feel for the poor bride (cousin) and groom – imagine having family tell you that hey, we’re so glad to come for your wedding but since everyone’s already in town, we’re going to have a funeral first! Besides the grief aspect, brides and their bridal party usually have tons of stuff that must be done in the X number of hours before the ceremony and all that would have to be rescheduled and dealt with. And then there is the possibility that someone is in so much grief that they end up skipping the wedding.

  • Celestia March 29, 2017, 7:01 am

    I think like everything else about death, this is too individual to have a solid, every-situation rule. You have to just do your best with what you know about the person in question. If this particular bride would rather have not been told yet, that’s not wrong. Neither is telling her if you honestly believe it’s what she needs…

    My friends faced something kind of like this a few years ago. Their cat, who had strongly bonded with me, passed away on the Monday before opening night of a play that I was in. I was already hip deep in rehearsals and doing nothing but work and practice, and they seriously debated waiting to tell me until after the show ran (it would only have been the one week). In the end they decided that I would get more anxious by starting to wonder if I didn’t see the cat than I would by being told, and gave me the news. And they were right….I, personally, would have felt betrayed by having the news kept from me. But someone else would have been grateful to have one less worry in an already-stressful time, and be able to process the news on its own. There’s no right answer.

  • at work March 29, 2017, 7:29 am

    Yes, the bride and/or groom (or other important person) should be told. Admin’s point regarding learning about it via social media must be taken into account.

    BTW admin, I think you meant that the death precedes the wedding, as it happened before the wedding. To proceed [with] the wedding, the death would have to go along with or go forward with the wedding, which I doesn’t really make sense.

  • Susan. Haverland March 29, 2017, 8:01 am

    Yes , I agree to not postpone a wedding when everything is paid for . But I don’t think a bride would have time for social media . As in the case of a older relatives I think it could wait to tell the bride .

    • Jill March 29, 2017, 10:17 am

      The bride might not have time for social media, but guests probably would. I can imagine well-meaning family and friends going up to the bride to offer condolences. I’d hate to be blindsided with that sort of news at my wedding!

    • Teapot March 29, 2017, 10:28 am

      Unfortunately someone at the wedding is going to know. Think how horrible it would be for someone to give condolences to the bride during the receiving line, or worse yet, as she’s about to walk down the aisle. Far better for her to be told privately and as soon as possible so she can react and compose herself rather than to be blindsided in public.

    • lakey March 29, 2017, 10:30 am

      There’s no guarantee that she won’t check social media, but even if she doesn’t she could easily overhear someone talking about it. I think it’s safer to just be honest and tell her the bad news. It’s not a nice thing to have a death close to your wedding, but as they say in my family, “These things happen.” In my family my grandmother died within days of my cousin’s wedding.

    • JD March 29, 2017, 10:33 am

      Don’t count on that these days. In my kids’ circles of friends, the new tradition is, as soon as the knot is tied, to update one’s status to “married” on Facebook, before the reception even starts, and I sometimes see brides excitedly posting about their weddings which are about to happen later that day.

    • Dee March 29, 2017, 10:37 am

      Even if the bride doesn’t have time for social media (which I highly doubt) everyone else is checking their sites and will pass their condolences on to the bride so she would find out anyway, and it would be because of social media in the end.

      If the bride is an adult (and we are to presume she is, as she is getting married) then she is able to make decisions for herself and doesn’t need others to protect her from reality. To presume that she cannot handle the news infantilizes her. Life is full of unexpected events that cloud what should be happy occasions. A wedding is a single day in the life of a bride and she will have to accept that other things happen that day, too, including death and grieving. If she’s mature she already knows that and will be able to deal with the news in a way that is appropriate for her, her groom, and her guests. No need to protect her from herself.

    • ladyv21454 March 29, 2017, 11:29 am

      That depends on how close the bride or groom is to the “older relative”. I was extremely close to my maternal grandfather, and wedding day or not, I would have wanted to be informed of his passing.

    • babs March 29, 2017, 1:12 pm

      Have you ever seen a bride’s Facebook page in the days prior to the wedding? Every moment is shared these days. Also, her friends and family are on social media. Can you imagine finding out at the wedding that Grandma’s dead? I’m thinking the bride was emotional and has re-thought her reaction, and I’m sure it was a gut-wrenching decision for her father.

    • Kirsten March 29, 2017, 1:51 pm

      It takes under a minute to check facebook from a phone – very easy to do while hair is being dried, etc.

    • NostalgicGal March 30, 2017, 1:40 pm

      A few weekends ago I did a graphics job and was retained to ‘be in my seat and live’ so that images sent to me during the day of the wedding could be edited so they could be posted in near real time. So that may be the next stage of social media and a wedding… the photographer was sending me some images as soon as they were captured, and I was sending them back in under 10 minutes, often 5, with a basic edit and sprucing up for them to post it to their social media. I also got the normal shots off the bridal shoot and did those for a basic fee, but some of them had to be done NOW. I could also feed back if I needed that ‘this needs to be redone NOW this way’ (one picture during the main shoot did need people to be shifted that way or the background wasn’t going to be kind and be very expensive to fix). So expect even more social media being woven into anyone’s life events!

      With that kind of connectivity, it better be forwarded as soon as possible, and some things are still best told personally versus reading it off the media. It is a kindness to tell the bride, gently, as soon as possible.

    • Ashley March 30, 2017, 5:31 pm

      I was on Facebook while my hair was getting done, while waiting for my bridesmaids to finish getting dressed so they could help get me dressed, and I updated my profile picture and changed my name during the cocktail hour. Then I was posting photos throughout the rest of the night.

      Don’t worry I spent plenty of time with my guests and new husband but Facebook is quick and easy and since most people use their phones as cameras at a wedding and then put things on Facebook right away, it’s a pretty safe bet the bride will check it at least once.

  • AMC March 29, 2017, 8:02 am

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘convenient’ time to learn that a loved one has died. It’s always going to be sad no matter what.

  • Anonymous March 29, 2017, 8:13 am

    First, Jeanne, I think you meant “precedes,” not “procedes,” and second, I think your approach is about right–still plan a funeral, but also continue with the originally scheduled wedding.

    • admin March 29, 2017, 8:35 am

      Fascinating. I purposely checked the spelling to make sure it was “precedes”, the blog software burped and the draft came back online but apparently my change from “proceed” to “precede” did not survive the burp.

      • Anonymous March 29, 2017, 12:18 pm

        I like the way you described that, but more than that, I like your answer–continue with the wedding, because everything’s been reserved and paid for, and all the relatives are there, and then have a funeral a few days later. I mean, I know it sounds callous, but cancelling the wedding won’t undo the relative’s death, but it will cost a lot of people a lot of money and time.

        • NostalgicGal March 31, 2017, 2:46 am

          My wonderful beloved MIL, was going to have her 90th birthday. It was planned to have a big family gathering the week after her birthday (weekend so just over a week later) and have a huge family reunion. I moved heck and high water and got my spouse plane tickets and such so he could go (NO WAY could we both afford to go) so it ended up with cheapo non refundable tickets. Which were bought about 3 months in advance. Rest of family knew he was coming. Two weeks to go she had a hiatal hernia and went in for surgery because of excruciating pain. It was okay for a few days then the mesh slipped and she died about a week after the surgery. Her funeral was on her birthday. No way could I possibly afford even a bereavement trip and I tried hard, to make that happen. He called the family and asked what to do, they said we’re going to hold the reunion anyway so come. So he went up a week after her funeral to spend time with his family anyways. Only thing I did do was send instead of a funeral arrangement, to send a birthday bouquet. No balloons or funky stuffed animals but it was a very beautiful bouquet. One of the granddaughters took it and appreciated it afterwards. Even my SIL that hates me had to admit that they were nice flowers. Sometimes you just have to deal. He said that there wasn’t histrionics or a lot of moping, they tried to cast the reunion as a reunion and not the birthday party that was intended. Only thing that would have been worse was to have had the party on her birthday so arriving for a funeral instead…

          • ultrapongo April 2, 2017, 3:16 pm

            I guess your MIL would have loved the reunion, even if she was not able to attend.
            My uncle passed away just before my aunt’s 80th birthday, but there was a celebration, but a little subdued. I prefer to think he would have liked it.
            A little ‘fun’ story from a funeral: “Why don’t you have one more cookie? The corpse made them herself/himself.”

  • Ultrapongo March 29, 2017, 9:00 am

    Don’t know about ‘Murica, but in my part of the world “Wedding breaks sorrow”, which means that the wedding takes place as planned, and you don’t have to wear the funeral clothes.
    I agree with Admin that the bride would get the information anyway, but not in any controlled way. If there are a number N guests, it is not enuogh if N-1 can keep quiet, there is always at least one who will tell. And it is not the one you want to hear it from. They will probably try to disguise it as “It is always right to tell the truth. No matter where, when and in what situation.”

    • Dee March 29, 2017, 5:39 pm

      It’s not about that one person deliberately blowing the secret; it’s about everybody at the wedding who were as close, if not closer, to the deceased as the bride, and consideration for their feelings. It is expecting too much for grieving guests to not let a single tear fall or do anything that might tip the bride as to the news. Those guests may need to discuss and commiserate with each other at the wedding, and as long as they don’t do anything to interfere with the celebration, they should be free to feel sad as well as happy. Any other expectation is cold and heartless. It’s not the bride’s day, it belongs to everyone and she cannot expect things to revolve solely around her.

      • Ultrapongo March 30, 2017, 7:17 am

        Agree. I did not mean that people would tell them just to be mean. Only that some people are missing the brain-to-mouth filter, and would speak without thinking.
        That’s why someone close to the bride (and/or groom) should tell them first.

  • Dyan March 29, 2017, 9:38 am

    yes she should have been told, what if someone at the wedding knew and said to her OH I am so sorry for your loss…that would have been horrible and caught her off guard

  • Devin March 29, 2017, 9:51 am

    I think telling the bride is more appropriate. Since weddings are often large family affairs, wouldn’t the bride realize her grandmother wasnt present? If this happened the morning of the wedding it is likely most of the family is aware of the death by the time of the ceremony. The bride would likely notice the somber tone is the room and wonder what is wrong (wrongly think it is a reflection of her marriage), or the family might erroneously think the bride knows and think her callouse for not making a mention of it.

    In my mind what is worse, being told immediately and having a few moments to grieve before or finding out during the height of the celebration? I think it ks naive to think that no one would let it slip forna while day with family that grandma had passed.

  • Shalamar March 29, 2017, 10:15 am

    I remember seeing a story on this site about the bride’s brother (I think) dying in an accident the day before her wedding. The wedding went ahead as planned, but needless to say, everyone was grief-stricken. To make things worse, almost all the speeches were about the brother and the loss the family had suffered, rather than the couple’s (hopefully happy) future together. I honestly don’t know how I would have handled it, though.

  • Cat2 March 29, 2017, 10:28 am

    My parents waited until after the ceremony to tell me, but before the reception. I choose to look at it as “She lived to see the day”.

    While I appreciate that they waited until after the ceremony, social media would have made no difference in when I found out, as they were the ones who had the information and in charge of it and weren’t putting it out there yet.

    I also appreciate that they told me and we were all able to celebrate and mourn at the same time, and that they didn’t just try to slap on a happy face for my benefit, or not pull off the happy face and leave me feeling a WTF? on my wedding day. I mean, there were happy faces – we were just a little more subdued than we might have otherwise been, in a way that was felt and would have been noticed if it was just some people and not others.

    Yeah, I was the bride and it was “my day” – but it was also my mother’s mom and she needed it to be acknowledged for her benefit, and my sisters also needed their grandmother’s passing acknowledged for their benefit. When it happened, and not when it was convenient for me as “the bride”. Being the bride didn’t supercede all those other relationships and human emotions and needs.

  • JD March 29, 2017, 10:29 am

    At the point where the OP says the wedding was, I think going on with it is probably about what one would have to do, but I’d want to know of the death, were I the bride. I’d leave it up to the family as to who would feel like attending and who wouldn’t, but I would go ahead. If it was a small affair, no traveling by guests, nor deposits to caterers and sites, no bridal parties having to re-arrange scheduling, that sort of thing, then yes, postpone the wedding if you can, but under common circumstances, one would almost have to go on with it.
    A dear friend of mine, who had at one point almost lost hope that her son would ever ask his long-time girlfriend to marry him, died unexpectedly less than three weeks before his much-anticipated wedding. She had been so excited, so thrilled that he was finally getting married to this wonderful girl, that the idea of postponing it just didn’t sound right to anyone. The wedding went on as planned, but the guests and family all wore tiny flowers handed to them as they entered the church, in memory of the loving mother who had so wanted this wedding to happen. It was sweet and very touching.

  • Nutraxfornerves March 29, 2017, 10:59 am

    I agree the bride should have ben told. There is no way it could have been kept secret. Even worse than finding out on social media, would be to hear about it during your wedding when Aunt Agatha says “I am sure Dear Grandmother is looking down from heaven and wishing you all the best.”

    Miss Manners once wrote about someone who was criticized for notifying close relatives during a wedding of a sudden death that affected the relatives. People said the notifier spoiled the wedding. MM replied along the lines of “death always takes precedence.”

  • Harry March 29, 2017, 11:10 am

    I agree, I think most people would want to know ahead of time. And my feeling is that the deceased would have wanted this life celebration to continue as planned.

  • Laura Payne March 29, 2017, 11:18 am

    I worked with a young man that was planning on getting married. Tragically, the father of the bride had a fatal heart attack the night before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner. They chose to postpone the wedding at the last minute, given the short time frame.

  • Ashley March 29, 2017, 1:15 pm

    I hate that the social media aspect of this has to be taken into account.

    But as someone who found out about their grandmother’s death via social media, yeah, it does. It really really does.

    • Ergala March 29, 2017, 5:28 pm

      I found out about my father’s death last year via google. I totally get it.

  • Tricia March 29, 2017, 1:45 pm

    How could you not tell the bride that their grandmother died that day? When she noticed that she wasn’t at the ceremony or reception, wouldn’t she inquire then as to the whereabouts of grandma? To me that would create a more adverse situation – the bride sitting up at the head table asking, “where’s grandma?” “well dear, we weren’t going to tell you but she died this morning.”

    I could understand not saying anything if it wasn’t someone in the immediate relationship scope of the bride (no need to bother the bride that the brother of her aunt’s husband has passed),

    • Rom March 29, 2017, 11:47 pm

      Hi, OP here 🙂

      In the case of the blog I read this story off of, grandma lived in a nursing home, so her absense wouldn’t be noticed.

    • Colleen Halbert April 2, 2017, 11:17 pm

      Or just pull a Weekend at Bernies 😉

  • Billia March 29, 2017, 2:30 pm

    It’s probably a personal preference thing because if I was the Bride and didn’t get told when I found out it was kept from me that my Grandmother had passed I would be incredibly upset.

    Actually I the more I think about it the more I think the Bride is selfish and unreasonable. Her grandmother died and she’s annoyed her Dad let it put a damper on her day? Sheesh

  • Cat March 29, 2017, 3:02 pm

    I think it depends on the person. I was in my junior year of college; and it was the last day of final exams. I received a letter from my mother with the envelope marked, “Do not open until after exams.”
    I was in a quandary. Mother was extremely neurotic and given to hysterics so I never knew if something was going to be a major disaster or a minor annoyance. I had my roommate read it and she said, “It’s bad, but there is nothing you can do about it.” It took three days for the letter to get to me so I didn’t know just how bad bad was.
    I worried all through my exam and did poorly on it after doing well on the others. I got back to my dorm and read the letter. Dad had had a heart attack and was in ICU. I called home; and Mother said he was recovering.
    Thirty minutes later she called screaming that he was dying and for me to come home. I didn’t have a car because she would not allow me to have a driver’s license until I was 21 (legal age in those days). A friend’s boyfriend drove me to the bus station to get an express bus to my hometown, 126 miles away.
    When I arrived home, I found that Dad was no worse, had not been dying and was recovering nicely. Mother just liked upsetting people.
    There was no reason for her to have written me that letter. She could have waited until exams were over since she knew when my exams were and simply phoned me. She did what she knew would be the most upsetting thing possible without taking responsibility for it, “Well, I wrote on the envelope not to open until after exams.”
    You have to know the person and the situation to make a judgment call. There is no one answer for everyone to questions as emotionally charged as a death/tragedy just before an important event.

    • bern821 March 30, 2017, 11:29 am

      Cat, that just breaks my heart. I can’t imagine a life with a mother who would purposely upset you at such a critical time in your own life. Exams are so stressful – and piling on was an awful thing to do.

    • Asharah March 30, 2017, 6:30 pm

      Didn’t your mother also tell you good girls who loved their mothers didn’t leave home to go to college? And tell you it was better for your brother to beat up you than somebody who might press charges? And do nothing when your grandmother stole from you?

      • Cat April 2, 2017, 2:16 pm

        Yes, that was my family. It was my older brother who decided to play with mother’s corpse at the funeral home; and it was also he who tried to murder us twice with a 12 gauge shotgun.
        My father told me that a vertebra that had been knocked out of my neck by a PE teacher who didn’t like the way I did forward rolls was only a pinched nerve and left me to suffer for 24 hours when I was thirteen. He loved to tell me that I was too stupid to come out of the rain when it was wet.
        Trying to love my family left me exhausted, bruised and often bleeding. There is a lot to be said for being an orphan, single and childless.

    • NostalgicGal March 31, 2017, 3:05 am

      This happened to me at quarter end during my freshman year. My dad’s doctor called me to come home because he was summoning ‘immediate family’. My dad had had several years of minor heart attacks that would hospitalize him for maybe a week… and stage 2 angina. This was the first time the doctor had summoned ‘immediate family’ so it sounded really bad. Mom knew nothing else, other than she was the only other one allowed in to see him, this time. So I moved everything, borrowed money from a friend and called the banker in my hometown (he had a small plane and I was 6 hours drive from home) to make the flight-he would fly that far for some serious $. He came and got me, I walk in the hospital… and in the hallway outside the door I can hear my dad complaining. It was like several other times in the past, identically. I went in and talked to him, he was ‘the usual’. I stepped out in the hall and put the doctor against the wall and told him ‘do you hear him? He’s FINE. When he STOPS complaining THEN you call me to his bedside’ and stalked off. Yes I was furious as that had been a major and expensive thing I didn’t need during finals (I had to take everything early, literally the day before finals started, cram them all in, then take the cab to the airport to be picked up). My father lived another 31 years, by the way. Yes I wasn’t kind to the doctor but that had been an uneeded trip. I know, it could have been THE event but, it wasn’t.

      DH’s family was having a big reunion with EVERYONE there, and we had planned on going up that week, to be with them. The week before, his oldest brother calls and says his dad is in and OMG he is SO bad off, you need to come. He painted it very bleak. Nobody else knew anything else. So we drop everything and I start the 12 hour drive at 8 pm that night. Lots of caffeine and we pull in at the hospital in the morning, we drove straight there. His father was in, yes, but recovering nicely from treatment. The oldest brother left the room when we stepped in and hid from us the entire time. So we stayed the day, DH called work and explained and took a vacation day, I slept for 4 hours and we drove back so he could be at work the next day. Burning up most of our money we had set aside for the trip. The next week the reunion went down without us and everyone gave the brother the business on what he pulled.

      • Cat April 2, 2017, 2:20 pm

        The thing we should have both learned is to call Dad personally when we were told that he was on death’s doorstep. If he answered the phone and was certain he was not going to die ASAP, we could have stayed where we were and saved both the trauma and the money.
        If it is heredity and environment that shape our personalities, we should both be basket-cases by now.

        • NostalgicGal April 3, 2017, 10:01 pm

          I’m weaving my own basket. Problem is, no instructions and I’m not done yet. 🙂 I’m going to put wheels under it and push it down the hill to the gates of you-kn0w-where. Those comments don’t ride well with some people though….

          The only one I could talk to was Mom and she didn’t know anything. It was because or despite past history, this was the first time the doctor had done that (over about 8 years). He didn’t do it again.

  • Danielle March 29, 2017, 3:46 pm

    I agree that the bride might not have time to check social media and find out that way, but others at the wedding might know about the death and offer their condolences to the bride, which would blindside her if she hasn’t already been told.

  • violinp March 29, 2017, 4:29 pm

    My dad’s dad died the night before one of my mom’s brothers got married. Because my sister and I were to be singing in the wedding, Mom and Dad decided not to let us know until the day after the wedding – we loved our grandpa and were prone to tears of sympathy (either in happy or sad occasions) as it was, and our parents felt our being sad would have ruined the day for my uncle and his bride.

    I…have mixed feelings about that. I know me. I know it would have been awful for me that day – I don’t think I stopped crying about Grandpa dying for an entire day (and I don’t mean crying again every hour; I mean I could not stop crying at all). But me now? I would be hurt and angry to find out a close relative had died and I wasn’t informed on my wedding day. I’ve lost one set of grandparents and my mom already, and while I would feel awful if one of my mom’s parents died close to my wedding, I would rather know ASAP and be able to process as soon as possible.

  • NostalgicGal March 29, 2017, 6:10 pm

    Okay what do you do if someone does drop over AT the wedding?

    I know of more than one case where (usually the groom) died at the altar, and the legal battle that went on to define if they were married or not at that moment (because there was lots of money involved)…

    I know that if my spouse (to be, possibly) or a parent or grandparent chose the ceremony to leave us, that would be the end of the proceedings for me. Maybe send people to eat the food just because it was paid for, but I’d be done.

    • Queen of the Weezils April 4, 2017, 12:10 pm

      Wow. That’s a whole different kettle of fish! With regards to the legal wrangling, wouldn’t it all be about the actual state-issued marriage certificate? Is it signed or not signed. That’s the legal document.

      From an etiquette perspective, I think it would end any celebration (especially if it were the bride or groom!) Just abrupt end.

      Twice I’ve had parties that ended because someone had to go to the hospital with an injury serious enough to require stitches but nothing all that serious. Nifty scar time, you know. Anyway, that alone ended the party both times.

  • Carol March 29, 2017, 6:50 pm

    I wonder what the protocol is when someone dies AT the wedding, or more likely, the reception. It happens oftener than you would think.

    • Dee March 30, 2017, 12:31 am

      It would be up the couple to decide if things continue or are cancelled. Obviously, it would create a more subdued event, but I can’t imagine the deceased ever wanting to be responsible for canceling everything, and it’s not as if things can be rescheduled, since the money is spent and usually there isn’t any more for another wedding (if there is even enough for the first round). Unless it’s a very small affair with local guests there really isn’t much choice but to go on. That is, unless the deceased is the bride or groom.

    • DCGirl March 30, 2017, 12:08 pm

      In doing genealogical research on my extended family, I found an online newspaper article where one of the bridesmaids at a fifth cousin’s wedding died on the morning of the wedding. The bride was told by her parents that the poor girl was unwell and unable to participate before the ceremony and got the whole story later in the day.

  • Lady Phoenix March 29, 2017, 8:12 pm

    Tell the wedding party at the earliest convenient time and in private.

    And I believe that once the wedding has started, all talk of bad news should silenced. It would absolutely suck to have over 20 “well meaning” aunts and grannies and whoever to corner you on your wedding day to inform you “your dad is dead.” There is a time and place, and the focus should be on the wedding, and the departed would surely not want to their loved one’s wedding to be saddened.

    Now if you have a quick “in memory of” during the service, that would work. That way it is out there in a formal and respectful matter.

  • Kathryn March 30, 2017, 12:14 am

    My aunt died from cancer the day before her daughter’s wedding. She hasn’t been entirely forth coming in how bad her cancer was, and my cousin had already moved the date forward by a few months. They took their votes by her bedside that evening and kept on with the wedding and reception the next day.

    Dad said it was the worst wedding he’s ever been to. It was objectively a lovely wedding, but he was mourning his sister. Everyone was still in shock over my aunt’s death. Most sombre wedding reception ever. But what can you do? What’s done is done.

    • Kathryn March 30, 2017, 12:15 am

      Vows, not votes.

  • Huh March 30, 2017, 9:43 am

    On the day of my first wedding, my grandma had a minor stroke. I was not told about it until after the honeymoon, as she still came to the ceremony. It was where she couldn’t talk momentarily or sounded confused and then was fine. I don’t even know if she told my mom until after the ceremony. Also on the day of my first wedding, the groom’s great-grandmother died. We were told about that and his grandparents didn’t attend the wedding. The groom barely knew his great-grandmother, so we continued on.

    Looking back, these were all signs that this wedding shouldn’t take place. 😉

  • SamiHami March 30, 2017, 11:16 am

    A former coworkers father died the morning of her wedding. They decided to go ahead with it. Clearly not an easy decision, but he had been ill (cancer) for a very long time and there was just no way of knowing when he might go. All the guests were there and it was really too late to stop things. Needless to say it was about as somber as a wedding can get, but I don’t really blame them for going forward with it.

  • TM March 30, 2017, 11:44 am

    My best friend died of pancreatic cancer the morning after my wedding. When she was diagnosed 9 months prior, she made me a promise that she would make it to the wedding. She kept repeating that promise to me as she went through chemo that year. I think it helped motivate her.

    I saw her weekly and the month before my wedding she deteriorated very quickly and it was obvious she would not be in good enough health to come. I promised her that our other close friend and I would send her a video message of me in my wedding dress.

    By the week of my wedding she was mostly unconscious and it was obvious she only had days to live. I knew with wedding preparations and our honeymoon immediately following that this was probably my last chance to see her. 5 days before the wedding on Easter Sunday I went and said goodbye. I didn’t know if she could hear me but I said everything in my heart that needed to said. I wanted to leave nothing unsaid so I poured my heart out to her. Her response was a tear running down my cheek so I know she heard me. As I was leaving she briefly woke up, asked for a hug and told me how much she loved me. It was the saddest day of my life.

    The day of the wedding we made a video and sent it to her phone, with her sister on the other end, promising to play it, even if she appeared unconscious.

    I celebrated my day in a big way because I knew that’s what she would have wanted. I felt her there with me. It was the happiest day of my life.

    She passed away the next morning. I feel in my heart she was holding on to keep her promise to me to survive to the wedding. She knew she could let go. That’s just the kind of friend she was – she always kept her promises.

    Her sister very kindly waited until she thought I was in the air on our way to Mexico before she posted on social media. She wanted me to have a good honeymoon and find out when I returned. I logged on right before takeoff and saw the post about her death. I sobbed all the way to Mexico.

    I have to say that I appreciated her sister’s efforts to shield me. It was very thoughtful.

    Oddly enough, despite my best friend’s wishes (Which I knew because we had talked about it), there was no funeral. Ever. So I didn’t miss it while on my honeymoon. A few months after her death her sister had a cocktail hour full of stuffy food and a cello playing and my friend would have hated every bit of it. It wasn’t her at all. A lot of people felt there was no closure and because she was cremated there was no graveside. I felt fortunate to have gotten to say my goodbye but many friends felt cheated out of the closure that a funeral brings.

    Thank you for letting me share. That was 2 years ago and was the most exciting and wonderful time in my life and the saddest and most devastating, all at the same time.

    • NostalgicGal March 31, 2017, 3:17 am

      My father insisted no funeral. One of his sister in laws tried to set up a big fancy funeral twice, impersonating myself and my mother, and I shut all that down fast. I finally told her about that was HIS wishes. If she wanted to fund one out of her own pocket she could go ahead, but if there was a true service to be done I was going to conduct it (I’d been ordained for almost 10 years by then). And his wishes were none. I was going to honor that. She wanted the big fat funeral to be the big fat bereaved mourner in the middle of it–well she could pay for it. He was cremated so no need for a $8000 casket for example…

      When my mother goes she insists the same thing, no funeral. After she goes I might hold a quiet memorial (cookies, coffee, punch) and a few words said in the park-or not, then deal with how they wished their ashes dealt with. It may not be the closure some want but it is the only way to follow their last wishes.

  • SleepIsabella March 30, 2017, 12:23 pm

    I wouldn’t give her much too flack for saying that. The amount of stress she’s going through, she likely isn’t thinking straight. Hindsight is 20/20, and many of us only consider what we’re feeling at the moment rather than in future after thinking what kind of consequences there could be.

  • Diana March 30, 2017, 2:55 pm

    I’ve posted about this before, but my mother was in hospice care and as my daughter’s wedding day approached.

    My mother was concerned all along that her situation not “ruin” my daughter’s day, while we were all concerned about her. We faced multiple possible scenarios and attempted to plan – Would we have a pre-wedding-wedding at the hospital that she could be there and see her granddaughter get married? We had friends who volunteered to sit with her if she was still alive but unconscious. What if she died on the wedding day? What if…what if…what if…it was difficult.

    She passed on Monday evening. We had a joyful wedding celebration on Friday, and a joyful/musical celebration of her life on Saturday.

    This was 5 years ago and I am still amazed that we all got through it.

  • Diana March 30, 2017, 2:56 pm

    …opps…hit submit too soon…

    My main point…you have to do what is right for you. We knew what Mom wanted and how she felt about things…You keep moving forward and you take care of each other. So that’s what we did and what we still do every day.

  • AnaMaria March 30, 2017, 8:06 pm

    My paternal grandmother died a few hours after my parents’ wedding- she had been sick and had been holding on to hear that my dad, her youngest son, was married. Her dying wish was for my parents to enjoy their honeymoon without knowing she had passed or cutting it short to attend her funeral. Of course, this was pre-social media. I would hate to have someone’s wedding day ruined by news of my passing, but I would hate for an immediate family member to find out over social media even more!

    • Dee March 30, 2017, 10:46 pm

      My son found out about his grandmother’s death via social media. I had told my brother that morning about the death and I waited to tell my son until he came home from university that evening. My brother posted the news immediately after my phone call and an automatic message went through to my son’s email. My son wasn’t close to his grandma but, still, it was incredibly stupid for my brother to post the news before he knew everybody had been told. If you’re unsure then why not just wait until the obit hits the newspaper? What’s the rush, do people think there are bonus points for being first? I swear, social media is the upcoming zombie apocalypse, since it seems to make people lose all their brains.

  • Wendy March 30, 2017, 10:46 pm

    If only people could stay off social media my mother has strict instructions from
    Me that she is not aloud to post important information I give her on social media until she asks or I give the ok, I did this during my first pregnancy as she had shared pictures of Bub that I had sent privately she wasn’t being mean she was just excited and I understood that and she is happy with the no posting until given permission rule. I wish everyone was that considerate especially those that are slightly removed ie a friend posting about a friends grandmothers death.
    I think in this situation it would depend on the relationship between bride and grandmother and the type of wedding is it a large family gathering where the bride is likely to hear from
    Other sources? Or is the bride eloping and unlikely to meet others in the know.

  • Archie March 31, 2017, 8:57 am

    This happened to me right before my wedding. My husband-to-be’s grandmom (dad’s mom) passed away unexpectedly.

    2 things happened that gave me so much more love, respect and hope for this new family joining ours:
    1. We were flying out to the US to start our masters’. Normal protocol would have dictated their family wait at least 2 more weeks before any such major ceremonies. This would have impacted our flights booked to come here (we’d have paid a fortune to re-book) – not to mention we’d likely miss our new student orientation and other such events necessary to orient us in a new country/new school.
    His grandad (who’d just lost his wife of a few decades!!) – stepped up and said, don’t stop the wedding ceremony. Our family apologizes we will not meet our new daughter yet – but she will be with us ever after.
    He also requested my dad-in-law – his own son – not to attend the actual funeral (religious reasons).

    2. My in-laws debated not telling me, going ahead with the wedding and making an excuse for why 1/2 their family was absent. My husband put the kibosh on that. He said he did not wish to live with the consequences of me finding out after the fact 😀 – god bless him, he knew not to cross me that way.
    In all seriousness – I would want to know. Weddings are important, but someone lost someone dear to them.

    In my case, thanks to a very traditional, yet very practical grandfather-in-law, our wedding happened.

    What I also always got to be grateful for was – my own mom passed away less than 2 years later. If our wedding had been postponed and we’d not done it then, there was a string likelihood she might not have been at my wedding. For that reason alone, my husband and I made sure to the extent we could that his grand-dad was forever taken care of after that

  • Aleko April 1, 2017, 2:23 pm

    Without in any way wishing to be dismissive of the bride’s feelings, I suspect that if the family had conspired to keep the news from her all day, when she finally found out she would have felt badly about having been kept in the dark and having gone ahead and celebrated while her gran was lying newly dead, and blamed her family for not telling her. Because something like this is always going to be a sickening blow however it is handled.

    But I’m for telling. Partly, as so many people have said, because in practice the chances of somebody letting it slip are so high; but also because the revelation that your nearest and dearest were all faking it on one of the most important days of your life is bound to be deeply uncomfortable .

  • Queen of the Weezils April 4, 2017, 12:04 pm

    If it is someone close to the bride, or the vacationer, or the sick person in the hospital, I would always err on the side of telling them. They can make whatever decision they want from that. The bride, for instance, could have gone on as planned with some bittersweet sadness for granny. Or she could cancel the wedding. Or she could do a last minute toast to her memory.

    There have been two times when my parents kept a death from me, and after the second time I had it out with them over it. The first time was my beloved and elderly pet cat. I was studying for finals at a nearby university when the kitty became very sick. They tried to coax her to eat, and eventually took her to the vet when they discovered that this was incurable and the end. They put her down right then and there and I found out about it a week later when I returned home. I understand if they couldn’t wait for me to take the bus ride home to say goodbye, which would have taken about a half hour door to door, as no one wants to make a cat suffer any longer than necessary. But they should have said something. They didn’t because they didn’t want me to be distracted from finals. I wasn’t distracted, but I felt betrayed and denied a chance to say goodbye.

    The second time was an uncle. I was attending a convention and they decided to wait to tell me until I got home. I got wind of it from my brother, who called to ask how I was planning to get to the out-of-state funeral. Now, I understand that my mother might have been too distraught, but if they called my brother, they should have called me too. The excuse was that they didn’t want to make me sad on my vacation. Again, I felt betrayed. First, there was a matter of logistics. Where the convention was being held was a lot closer to uncle’s state than my own! I could have changed flights and just rented a car to get there rather than fly home and then fly out again in a few days. Second, there’s an implication that I couldn’t “handle” the news and still find joy in what I was doing, which is completely false. One can be happy and sad simultaneously, and it should be my choice to decide what to do with the news. It’s rather patronizing.

    After this, I told them never again. If they find out a death in the family, they should call me when they are able and not worry about what I might or might not be doing.

    • Serryce April 9, 2017, 8:23 pm

      “One can be happy and sad simultaneously, and it should be my choice to decide what to do with the news. It’s rather patronizing.”

      Yes, this.

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