7 Ways to Incorporate Heirlooms Into Your Wedding Day

One of the best ways to make your wedding day unique to you as a couple and to set your celebration apart is to incorporate heirlooms into the details of your wedding.

But I bet you’re wondering, What exactly do heirlooms consist of, and what should I include in my day?

Have you ever sifted through your grandmother’s costume jewelry, or flipped through all of her old black & white photographs from “the good ol’ days”? Has your grandfather handed down his pocket watch to you or given you one of his veteran lapel pins?

Typically, heirlooms are sentimental items that are passed down to you from past generations. But the good news is, even if you don’t have heirlooms passed down from your family, one of the most exciting things you can do is create your own!

At this very moment, you and your hubby-to-be are in the good ol’ days, making memories and creating your own traditions and heirlooms as you begin your legacy together.

Below are 7 ways you can incorporate heirlooms into your wedding day to make it unique to you and to lay the foundation for a strong marriage and a beautiful family that recognizes your love story for generations to come.


1. Include old family photographs in your details.

An heirloom can be as simple as a family photo. Treasured snapshots into your family’s history creates a sense of nostalgia while simultaneously honoring someone who made you who you are today. Including old family photographs can highlight the people most important to you and showcase those who were influential in your relationship or your life as you were growing up. Consider incorporating prints of your grandparents on their wedding day, or framed photos of late loved ones… whether for your detail images or for a welcome table that guests can admire. I do advise you to try to keep the frame colors and aesthetics in line with your overall wedding design so that these special photographs flow perfectly into your day.

Heirloom Wedding Photography by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer, Always Avery Photography


2. Wear something borrowed.

This is one of the more common and easiest ways to incorporate a treasured heirloom, and, it gives you the perfect opportunity to include something borrowed into your big day. Wearing timeless family jewelry such as grandma’s string of pearls, auntie’s favorite rings, or mom’s diamond stud earrings is not only sentimental for you, but it is oh so special to them. Even if you don’t necessarily want to wear these items, I can still photograph them alongside your wedding details. I’ve also seen brides in heirloom attire including handed-down veils, shawls, and wedding gowns, either in their original state or re-fashioned. My grooms have worn their grandfather’s bowtie or their father’s cufflinks to subtly yet stylishly honor their relatives, too. The options really are endless for this one!


3. Decorate your bridal bouquet.

This is another lovely way to honor late loved ones and keep them close to your heart. Add a photo of them in a locket or their favorite brooch and attach it to your bouquet. Many of my brides have done this and say that it feels as if their loved one is right there with them as they walk down the aisle and celebrate their new marriage throughout their wedding day.

Another great option is to include a new heirloom, such as your sorority pin, to your bouquet as an elegant way to honor that part of your life. Plus, if your future daughter ends up pledging the same sorority one day, you can pass your pin down to her, which she could later include in her own wedding. I know it may sound like I’m getting ahead of myself, but I always think of little things like this, because my goal as your photographer is to help you create, document, and preserve your legacy.

Father's photos in locket for bride's heirloom wedding details.


4. Toast and Cheers with Vintage Family-Owned Glasses.

What better way to “cheers” than to do so with champagne flutes that have been passed down from generation to generation? Ask your grandparents or parents if they still have their champagne glasses from their wedding! It’s a special nod to your family by using celebratory stemware that belonged to your relatives. At your reception, you can make a toast to thank your loved ones using the very same glassware that they used when celebrating their big day and beginning their legacy years and years ago. 


5. Pay Tribute with a Favorite Flower or Food.

Some families don’t pass down things like jewelry, dresses, or dishes, and that’s totally okay! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate beloved family traditions in your wedding! Traditions come in all shapes and sizes, so think about what makes your family special and unique.

Did your grandma love roses? Or did your mom use peonies in her wedding bouquet? These are perfect opportunities to pay tribute to them by including those florals in your bridal bouquet, ceremony arch, and reception centerpieces. Or, maybe your future husband’s grandmother was always in the kitchen baking pies. Consider serving mini pies for dessert to honor your fiancé’s grandma, too.


6. Include a Ring Box.

If you have a ring box that was passed down to you by a family member, definitely use it on your wedding day! Not only can I photograph it with your bridal details, but it can keep your jewelry safe until it’s time to exchange rings during your ceremony.

But, for many of us, we don’t have a legacy ring box that has been passed down. This is the perfect opportunity to create your own heirloom. A lot of my couples invest in a Mrs. Box and create their own custom ring box with either their married monogram or simply the initial of their new last name. This is another item that will become so sentimental as you pass it down to your future child one day!

Legacy ring boxes used as heirloom pieces for a wedding.


7. Display your Family Crest or Coat of Arms.

I saved one of my absolute favorites for last! At your wedding, display your new family crest! This is such a sophisticated and elegant way to bring your family history and legacy into your wedding day! Better yet, you can share both family crests to signify the joining of your two families. Your wedding crest can be used in your stationery designs, ceremony flags or reception banners, cocktail napkins, thank you notes post-wedding, and can be framed in your home after your big day, too. If you don’t already have a crest made, I know of several talented crest designers who will create one that is totally unique and just for you! Leave a comment on this post or send me an email, and I’ll be happy to refer you to my favorite custom crest designers!

Family crest for wedding.There is something truly so special about both incorporating and creating heirlooms and traditions into your wedding as you begin your legacy as husband and wife. This is a huge part of why I ADORE my job as a wedding photographer. I love that I can help and guide you as you are on this journey! If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond with my best advice!

Ask Avery

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