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12 Creative Ways to Incorporate Family Heirlooms into Your Wedding

Family traditions and mementos can play a special part in your big day!

ways to use family heirlooms in your wedding

We all know that old rhyme for nuptials that goes “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…”

Well, if you’re stuck on how to feature something old or borrowed on your big day, we’re here to help with creative ways you can incorporate family heirlooms into your wedding. You know that scarf Nana used to wear? Have your tailor cut a small heart shape out of it and sew it into the cup of your dress so her memory is close to your heart. Got some heirloom glasses from Gramps? Use them for you and your new spouse to sip from during the reception.

Another sentimental way to include the words, memories and photos of those who are no longer with us is by printing a photo book filled with pictures of the bride and groom with those who are being honored. Between photos, memories, traditions and family heirlooms, there are so many ways to incorporate the people you love into your big day. Let’s look at the reasons why so many couples choose to use family heirlooms to bring some beautifully sentimental wedding ideas to life.

Why Incorporate Heirlooms?

Working family heirlooms into a wedding is by no means a new idea. The rhyme mentioned above dates back in print to at least 1871, suggesting a folk tradition that stretches back a lot farther. 

Family heirlooms can help us recall our ancestors and weave our respect and appreciation for them into our own weddings. A family wedding is, after all, not just an important day for the bride or groom. It’s also a day to celebrate tradition, family, and all that has come before us. We can use heirlooms to recall our parents’ or grandparents’ weddings. (This includes rocking your dad’s powder blue ruffle suit, if the occasion calls for it!) They can also represent some important family members who didn’t make it to the wedding but are there in spirit.

And finally, you may just have some incredible heirloom items that embody your family histories and that you’d like to introduce to your guests. These items could be as small as a ring or as big as a piece of furniture. They could have been made by your family members or have always held a place of respect in the family home.

No matter your reason, family mementos can imbue a wedding with tradition and sentimentality while helping you bridge your family’s past with your future on your most special day.

Top Tips for Using Family Heirlooms in Your Wedding

If you choose to use heirlooms in your wedding, there are countless inventive and fascinating ways to incorporate them. These items could be worn, displayed, or used significantly in the wedding ceremony. Here are some top tips to help you put a strong focus on these family treasures.

Display them prominently

The heirlooms you decide to use in your wedding may have no monetary value, but to your family, they’re still priceless. Let everyone else see just how venerated these articles are by displaying them in a place of honor at your wedding. Whether they’re shown in the actual ceremony or the reception, this will help your guests understand their story and the connection the heirlooms have to you and your family.

Provide labels or descriptions

If you choose to put an heirloom item on display, it’s a great idea to create a label and description to tell your guests its story. You can tell them its age, who owned it, where it came from, and what it means to you. You can also create a photo book featuring all the heirlooms at your wedding (in case some are being worn and not displayed on a table), and leave it by your guest book.

Tell your guests why they’re important

If you’re choosing an item that you might wear or use in your ceremony, a label isn’t going to work. Instead, consider taking a moment to announce to your guests what the heirloom is and why it’s an important part of your wedding day. This can help you pay tribute to your ancestors and let everyone understand why you’ve chosen to honor this tradition. You can do this in a thank you speech, as well.

Use them in a traditional way

While you might be tempted to use a family heirloom in a novel way, think about appropriateness and honoring the item above all else. While drinking a toast out of an antique shoe might sound funny, it may not convey the respect that item deserves. If you really want to pay tribute to your family, a great way to do it is to use heirloom items in the same way that your parents and grandparents did at their weddings or in their lives.

Keep track of them

The wedding day can be hectic. The last thing you want is for one of your treasured family heirlooms to go missing in the heat of the moment. The best way to avoid any loss or damage to your heirlooms is to appoint a family member to be a responsible guardian for each one. But don’t choose your cousin who has seven kids or your Maid of Honor, as they’ll already be busy with other things!

wedding heirloom ideas
12 Wedding Heirloom Ideas

With these tips in mind, it’s time to think about what heirlooms you could incorporate. Without further ado, here are 12 ways to use family heirlooms in your wedding.

1. Use heirloom glasses for your wedding toasts. Some couples use champagne flutes that have been handed down through the generations, while others use wedding goblets or even fine crystal glasses that have been in the family for decades.

2. Wear your relatives’ wedding outfits. It’s not unusual for a bride to be married in her mother’s dress. However, older dresses may not follow the white dress tradition that only really started after Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding. The groom’s suit could also come from a relative who perhaps wore it at his wedding or for another important reason.

3. Use old rings. Heirloom wedding ring ideas abound, and while you can exchange old rings with your partner instead of new ones, there are other ways to incorporate rings. Old wedding rings can be put on display or worn by other members of the family. The bride might also wear her mother’s or even grandmother’s wedding band on the day just for luck until she receives her own. And if you don’t like the band, you can always have any gems added to a new, modern setting.

4. Display family photo books. Some of your old photo albums can display heirloom pictures going back generations to the early days of photography. Or, if you’re worried about these old albums or photos being handled, you can have them reprinted in new photo books that let your guests flip through and see your family history.

5. Put out family pictures and portraits. Most families have pictures on the wall of their ancestors going back generations. Some even have drawn or painted portraits of the people who came before them. Incorporating these framed pictures on a table or hanging them on a wall is a fantastic way to bring the past to life at your wedding. Or, opt for Canvas Wall Tiles you can hang in your home after your celebration!

6. Show your fantastic furniture. Many family homes have furniture items that go back years and even centuries. You can put out a special table or a chair that’s been in the family for ages. Even better, use a chair or sofa in your wedding photos to pay tribute to generations past.

7. Decorate your tables with family linens. If you have tablecloths or throws that have been in your family forever, bring them! Beautiful old linens can inject beauty and sentimentality into your wedding day. If you’re worried about them getting stained or soiled, use them on tables that won’t be used for food and drink.

8. Wear old jewelry. Aside from the heirloom rings, broaches, necklaces, bracelets, and other items can both make you sparkle and pay homage to your relatives. You can even get inexpensive replicas made for your bridesmaids to wear so that you look like a unified team.

9. Got great family dinnerware? You can use your family’s old China or silverware to decorate your table of honor and let your guests know where these heirlooms come from. If you can actually eat with them, great! If not, choose display items simply as decorations.

10. Cut the cake with an old sword or knife. Using a family heirloom blade in this traditional part of your reception can add color and historical significance to your wedding.

11. Choose an heirloom as a cake topper. If you can use a cake topper that your parents used, that’s a great way to start a tradition. But you can also use any important decorative item that represents your family as the crown to your cake.

12. Wrap your bouquet. A lot of brides use important family heirloom items to wrap around their flower bouquet, like a beautiful old necklace, a rosary, or even a ribbon. They can add a touch of beauty and also give you something to hold and meditate on as you walk down the aisle.

Great Ways to Use Family Heirlooms in Your Wedding

All of these ideas share one thing in common: They represent you and your history by giving a family heirloom a prominent place in your wedding. In this way, you can keep with tradition, pay respects to your ancestors, and carry your family’s proud history into the future.

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