Losing a loved one is a difficult emotional experience, but a funeral doesn’t have to be a somber event. Plenty of people would rather be remembered with a party, and ais an upbeat alternative to a .
It brings friends and family together to share stories, reminisce and honor a loved one with favorite food, flowers, music, decor and more. A celebration of life can be simple or grand, but it's always a customized event informed by the things that made a person special. At this very personal and uplifting occasion, tears and laughter are equally welcome.
Dignity Memorial® providers are experts in life celebrations. We know just what to do to capture the details that made a loved one unique in the world and design a gathering that deeply reflects the life lived.
What makes a great celebration of life? Here we outline the essentials for planning a beautiful and fitting tribute.
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Essential checklist for planning a celebration of life
Here's how you can get started planning a celebration of life.
1. Find a funeral celebrant
A is a planner trained to work with a family to create a personalized memorial tailored to the beliefs, lifestyle and preferences of the family's loved one. They know just what to do to create a gathering that feels joyous and memorable. Experienced at teasing out the details of a special life, they have both the skills and the resources to create an event that showcases a loved one's personality and passions.
2. Choose a special venue
Many have celebration of life centers or large, flexible reception spaces that are easily transformed into everything from a garden to a golf green. However, some families opt for another location, such as their own backyard or someplace that their loved one held dear. Either way, our planners, arrangers and certified celebrants can work with the venue of your choosing.
3. Consider the decor
A theme typically informs the decor, and that theme can be something as simple as a favorite color or a hobby. A remembrance table filled with photos and mementos may set the tone. From there, the imagination is the limit. Our professionals deck out a room in hot pink, or put down a dance floor, hang up a mirror ball and turn a space into a disco. We've even transformed a reception space into an art gallery and held an English tea in a flower-festooned courtyard.
4. Think about what people should wear
Black is , but not so with a celebration of life. The theme might dictate what people wear. So could the season. Maybe all the guests don team colors or a custom tee. Maybe everyone wears a pop of red. Some celebrations might call for costumes. Shorts and sundresses are more appropriate for a summer barbecue than suits and heels. Whatever the case, make sure to inform your guests about the attire that is expected in advance.
5. Plan for food and drinks
Food and beverages are nearly always at the center of any kind of celebration, and a celebration of life is no different. Sharing a meal or raising a glass with family and friends brings comfort and joy. Most Dignity Memorial locations offer through a local partner. In some cases, families may bring in their own food and drinks. If Dad loved Chinese takeout, surely egg rolls are in order. If your family marked every special occasion with pasta from a certain Italian restaurant, we can handle the lasagna. If your uncle had a signature drink, be sure to serve it at his celebration of life.
6. Choose the right music
It's said that music makes the world go round. It can certainly help create an inspiring atmosphere. Plus, playing a loved one's can help stir memories and foster connection among guests. Some families hire a single musician. Others ask for a six-piece band. A DJ feels right for certain celebrations, and a personalized playlist keeps costs down.
7. Designate an emcee
A celebration of life can include or prayers, but it's more likely that what you'll see and hear are guests telling funny stories about happy times or sharing touching memories of the loved one lost. In these looser settings, it's good to assign someone to be the emcee for the event. This ensures that everyone is given an opportunity to share their story, without any one person dominating the conversation.
8. Order favors or keepsakes
Small takeaways——are a nice final touch at a personalized gathering. If Dad was an avid golfer, send guests home with personalized golf balls. If Mother was the world's greatest cook, have her recipes laminated and presented in pretty recipe boxes. If Aunt Betty was known far and wide for her chocolate chip cookies, we'll see that every guest has a half dozen for the car ride home. These kinds of little touches make an event particularly memorable for guests.
A few celebration of life ideas
Every celebration of life is unique, and a certified celebrant is specifically trained to learn about a loved one and design an event like no other. Our planners have hundreds of , but here are a few to get you inspired:
- : An easy afternoon at father's favorite fishing hole, with a fish fry to follow.
- : A puppy party and adoption event for the impassioned animal lover.
- : A star-gazing party with a sparkler send-off for everyone's favorite astronomer.
- : A barn dance for the man who was the reigning two-step champion of the county.