This article appears in Bride 2020 magazine.

To ensure that your wedding is a happy and joyous affair, plan for the tricky situations that can pop up and handle them with grace.

“Greet the process with patience, curiosity, respect and love,” said celebration expert Kimberly Allen, co-owner of Something Fabulous event designers based in Detroit and Washington, D.C. “Remember that weddings are emotionally charged affairs that can trigger and excite. It’s not about the flowers, venues, menu or transportation schedule. It is about the memory you are making with and for each other and the ones that you love. That memory begins the moment someone says ‘yes’ and follows you through beyond ‘I do.’”

Honoring a deceased parent or grandparent

Flowers, heirloom keepsakes and favorite photographs are some of the many ways to honor deceased loved ones during the wedding ceremony and reception, Allen said.

“Flowers have had their special meanings for centuries, and often couples will select this symbol of remembrance as a way to honor parents, grandparents or other cherished loved ones who have passed on,” Allen said.

Place a favorite flower or bouquet on a chair or pew to hold the space where a beloved parent or grandparent would have sat.

“This can be done ceremonially by the couple or as part of the procession during the seating of honored guests,” Allen said.

Another option is for family members to carry a single bloom down the aisle to a keepsake vase set in a place of honor in the front of the ceremony, Allen said.

This rememberance can also be used in a second marriage where the couple and children honor deceased first spouses/parents.

“The gesture symbolized the love of the two families and the love they would continue to grow as a new blended family,” Allen said.

Carry an item of a passed loved one with heirloom rosaries or jewelry wrapped into a bridal bouquet, Allen said. A tie pin or cuff links can be worn in honor of a loved one as well.

“Another simple and popular gesture are photographs placed around the reception or on a special table. Everyone enjoys these, and often they act as conversation starters and provide storytelling opportunities to truly engage the loved ones in memory,” Allen said.

If a formal program is printed, share the story behind the gesture so that guests understand the significance, she said.

Letting guests know they should not take photos

“It’s perfectly fine to make an announcement or two before the ceremony or even post a tasteful sign in strategic entry points at the venue” to let guests know the bride and groom don’t want guests to photograph the ceremony, Allen said.

“These can be effective. Chances are if a guest is going to ignore you, another guest will help remind them of the no cell phone request.”

Keep in mind that some people may ignore your request.

“If your usher is comfortable with a friendly, ‘Oh, hey, could you please put your phone away? Suzie and Jim would like to keep things unplugged, thank you!’ That’s fine, but policing doesn’t really belong in a wedding environment, so the tone and manner of the message must remain polite and gracious,” Allen said.