5 Tips For Planning a Memorial Service and Reception


5 Tips for Planning a Memorial Service and Reception

Planning a funeral or a memorial service can be the beginning of the healing process and is an important part of grieving. It often can give a sense of closure. A funeral or memorial service is an opportunity to honor a person who was special, and to celebrate their life.

Lifestory Occasions

1. Gather and consult others who were close to the deceased. Be sure to try to honor any prior expressed   wishes of the deceased person. Some leave quite specific instructions on music, flowers and other details. If the service is to take place in a chapel or church and be religious in nature, discuss this with the religious leader who will be providing the service. If it is not to be religious, appoint an appropriate person to lead the service.


  1. Contact your local funeral home to get started with the final arrangements if no pre-planning has taken place. Set a date for the service, ensuring that there will be adequate notice for people to attend. Post details of the service in appropriate places, which might include a funeral homes memorial page online, local or national newspapers. If donations are requested instead of flowers, include this in the notice. Any other detail, such as a dress code should be briefly included in the notice.
  2. Some items that might want to be included depending on budget are flowers, coffin or urn, programs and guest book. Gather photographs and have a slide show made to be shown at the service.celebration-of-life13
  3. Adding personal touches to make the ceremony really reflect your loved one is important. Think about what your loved one really enjoyed in life. It may be appropriate to play a significant song or favorite piece of music while guests are waiting for the service to begin or at the end of the service. Ask other speakers to pay their own tribute, if this is something you and other loved ones would like. Or appoint someone to interview key family members or friends to tell their favorite memory and incorporate it in the main service given by clergy.celebration-of-life-planner3
  4. If you are having a celebration of life afterwards, find a venue and arrange for catering. Hire a funeral reception planner or appoint someone to be at the reception venue to ensure it is open for early arrivals, food and drinks are ready and that the room really speaks to the things that are reminders of the deceased. Using a color scheme that was a favorite of your loved one is a nice touch with their favorite flowers as centerpieces or just a few framed photos on the middle of each table to spark good memories and conversation. Have a clean up crew assigned. The last thing you will want to do on an emotionally exhausting day is have to clean up.clean-up

 LifeStory Occasions 



  1. Dave Thompson August 29, 2016 2:25 pm

    My great aunt just passed away and I want to have a wonderful funeral for her. I love your tip on adding personal touches to the funeral and reception. I think she would love everyone remembering her and seeing the great things she did during her life.

  2. Lucy Taylor January 25, 2017 11:52 am

    I appreciate this guide as to how to plan a memorial service. It’s something I fortunately haven’t had to give much thought, but an unfortunate event of cancer in a loved one has driven me to look into it in order to make things easier on the whole family, should things take a sudden turn for the worst. I love the idea of using the service to celebrate their life more than mourning the loss of it. It’s a beautiful approach!

  3. Alice Jones April 7, 2017 3:06 pm

    Thank you for all these tips on how to make a memorial services special for loved ones that are gone. I think including photos and memorabilia, that helps family and friends remember those that passed, is an essential part of the ceremony. These services should be joyous where those gathered celebrate the life of the family member/friend that recently passed. I will consider incorporating these tips into the memorial service so that the guests will be able to enjoy the life of our dearest family member and friend.


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