To find your “something borrowed” you need only to turn to the women in your family who have already walked down the aisle. A necklace, a handkerchief, a piece of lace from your mother or grandmother’s veil – little touches like these are all it takes to honor the brides who have come before you. Using something from a family member’s wedding can make your day extra special and add an additional dose of sentimentality to an already emotional event. With a little creativity, you can include aspects of family members’ weddings in your wardrobe, accessories, ceremony, and reception.

Your wardrobe.

Wearing a family member’s wedding dress can be a meaningful experience. If this is what you choose to do, be our guest! It can be a wonderful way to feel connected to someone special to you. Remember that how you wear the dress is up to you. As long as the original owner has given you their blessing, you can make as few or as many alterations to the gown as you’d like. Just be sure that no one else in the family is to wear the dress in the future. Once it’s altered, it’s permanently altered, and you want to make sure that everyone who could possibly wear the dress is comfortable with that.

Not loving the idea of wearing a hand-me-down gown? Pick out your own wedding dress and consider wearing a family member’s veil with it. You can wear the veil as is or ask your seamstress to add lace and/or beading to the piece.

If you want to buy your own dress and aren’t interested in using your grandma’s accessories, there are multiple ways to incorporate elements of an heirloom gown or veil without explicitly rewearing them. If your family wedding dress is lace, you are in luck! There are so many ways to use lace on a gown, veil, or with other accessories. Start by seeing if your seamstress can use the lace from the heirloom dress to add accents to a veil you’ve purchased to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind veil. If the dress you’ve purchased is simple, consider adding lace accents to it. Your seamstress can help you determine where adding lace looks best. If you choose to add a belt to your dress, see if your dressmaker can sew the lace from the older gown onto the belt. You can also use pieces of lace to create your garter. Add bling to your garter by pinning a family member’s broach to the piece.

Your jewelry.

Wearing special jewelry is another great way to honor family members who have been married before you. If they’re available to you, consider wearing the same earrings that your mother did on her wedding day, or maybe that gorgeous string of pearls that’s been in the family for decades. Items like these and many other jewelry items that have been passed down through generations are go-to pieces that a bride can wear to feel connected to her family on her special day. Remember that pins, broaches, and hair accessories can also be passed down and add some sparkle and sentimental value to your wedding day look.

Your accessories.

Like we mentioned previously, fabric from a family member’s old dress or veil can be used to add a finishing touch to several of your accessories. Have your florist take a piece of lace from the dress and pin it around the stem of your bouquet to give it a soft and romantic touch. If your groom wants to honor a family member, he can also do so by having a piece of fabric from his mother or grandmother’s wedding dress wrapped around his boutonniere. Brides can also pin a picture or add a locket with pictures of someone special – mother, grandmother, or aunt – to the fabric wrapped around the stems of their bouquet.

Consider sewing some of the fabric onto the pillow your ring bearer will use to walk the rings down the aisle. You can also use lace or scraps of fabric from a wedding dress to have a handkerchief made. Carry it with you so you have something to dab your eyes with as you become emotional throughout the event.

Your ceremony.

Of course wearing “something borrowed” from a family member is a great way to honor the brides before you, but incorporating aspects of their ceremonies into yours can be just as meaningful. Consider walking down the aisle to the same song your mother did. If you’re doing a more traditional ceremony, think about using the same readings as your parents or in-laws did. If you live near your family’s hometown you could be married at the same religious site or venue as your parents or in-laws.

If family members have passed away, you can still honor them in your ceremony. Your officiant can call for a moment of silence; you can light a candle in their honor, or write a loving note about them in your program. Also, consider asking your family members what the most important parts of their wedding days were. If something jumps out at you, incorporate it into your own ceremony. Remember to tell them that their ceremony served as inspiration for your special day.

Your reception.

Dedicate an area either in your cocktail space or event room where you can display pictures from your family members’ weddings. Ask for wedding photos of parents, in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins in advance. Use different sized frames and create a collage of the wedding photos on a table for all your guests to see. Your wedding is a celebration of love – you and your soon-to- be-spouse’s – and everyone else’s. Spread a message of love through photos of wedding days gone by. Find out what your family members’ first dance songs were. Ask your band or DJ to play those songs throughout the night and mention which couple’s first dance it was. It gives your parents the chance to dance to their special song side-by-side with you and your new spouse.

While your wedding day is ultimately about you, your partner, and what makes you both happy, you don’t want to forget the brides that came before you in the process. They all have something to give. Whether it’s a material object like a dress or veil, advice, or a tradition, adding elements of their wedding day into yours will make your day that much more meaningful.

Written by Colette House