How to Take Care of Family Heirlooms for Your Wedding

Including a family heirloom in your wedding — like your grandmother's jewelry, your mother's veil, or your great-grandfather's pocket watch — is a wonderful way to add a sentimental touch to your big day. But including these important items involves some special consideration. Here's what you need to know. 

wedding family heirlooms
Photo: Morgan Wynne Photography via Eventlightenment Planning

Consider insurance! "First, consider insuring the heirlooms, so you're covered in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Create a detailed inventory with descriptions and photographs to document their condition. If the heirlooms are jewelry, have them professionally cleaned before the big day to ensure they sparkle." —Misty Damico, CEO & Founder, Luxe Event Productions

Storage is everything. "One of the major keys to keeping family heirlooms in quality condition leading up to and on your wedding day is how you store them. Whether it's a hand-me-down veil, a pair of earrings, a beloved brooch, or something else entirely, pay attention to the way you store your heirloom item. A velvet inlaid box or pouch is perfect for jewelry or smaller items, while clothing should be stored in hanging garment bags in a cool, dry place. It also may be worth it to consider assigning a trusted family member, friend, or member of the bridal party to be in charge of bringing your heirloom(s) and packing them back up for the wedding." —Leah R. McCoy, President, Wedding Gown Preservation Kit

Consider using a small combination lock safe. "I love when brides incorporate family heirlooms in their details, like a grandmother's pearl bracelet and mother's sapphire pendant or jade ring. Many of my brides wear an heirloom sapphire ring or pendant for their 'something blue.' The wedding day is busy and there are a lot of moving parts and people in and out of the house or venue. My recommendation for keeping family heirlooms safe is to purchase a small combination lock safe, if you don't already own one. Put all of your jewelry in it and give combination to planner and photographer so only they have access. Have your planner include it in your honeymoon bag so you will have the safe with you in your hotel room. One more way to have peace of mind that your treasured jewelry is safe on your wedding day and during your honeymoon." —Heather Durham Photography

Inspect your heirlooms before the wedding. "I always recommend that clients take in any heirloom jewelry pieces to their trusted jeweler for inspection prior to wearing for an extended period of time. The last thing I'd want is for your family member's stone to become dislodged during your time on the dance floor. This advice is two-fold, as sometimes older pieces hold higher potential to snag clothing (yours or a guest's!) if a prong is loose." —Ashley Lachney, Owner, Alston Mayger Events

wedding family heirlooms
Photo: Catherine Marie Taylor via Alston Mayger Events

Keep track with a list of all of the heirlooms. "Family heirlooms can be a great way to add unique, sentimental elements to your wedding. Make sure each item is listed on some sort of decor inventory list." —Kari Dirksen Smith, CEO + Lead Planner, Feathered Arrow Studio

Assign a caretaker. "Assign a caretaker of the item. Much as a ringbearer makes sure the ring gets to the right time and place, a dedicated custodian of 1-2 of the pieces can make sure that they get the piece to the ceremony and then back to a secure storage area." —Vijay Goel, 440 Elm

Stow the item(s) after use. "Once the item has been retrieved or used for its purpose, we recommend that it's placed in your hotel room, at your place of lodging, or in a locked room at your wedding venue. If you task your wedding planner or coordinator with taking care of the item, ask that they add the task to the wedding timeline so that retrieving it is automatically incorporated into the flow of the day." —Carrie Negri, Emily Coyne Events

wedding family heirlooms
Photo: Jorge Macias Wedding Co. via Feathered Arrow Studio

Communicate openly with all parties involved about the significance of the heirloom and the importance of its safety. "For example, your photographer, videographer or planner - anyone who may be handling these items. Clear communication ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the care required." —Krisy Thomas, Owner of Southern Sparkle Wedding Planning & Vice President of The Certified Wedding Planner Society

Make a note on your timeline. "Family heirlooms can be an important element to bring stories and elements from the family into a wedding ceremony or other events of the day. You do want to make sure that, with everything going on, that these elements make it through the day accounted for and in good condition. Put the item in a timeline on say a written notecard with a few steps. You're much more likely to ensure nothing is forgotten in the stress and excitement of the day when the instructions are written down clearly." —Vijay Goel, 440 Elm

wedding family heirlooms
Photo: Jennifer Rene via Luxe Events Productions