Planning a Celebration of Life Service

A celebration of life service is more than just a trend—it’s a funeral or memorial service that has the power to showcase a unique personality. Celebrations of life are as big and bold or as simple and elegant as the person being remembered. We take a very personalized approach to celebrating each and every life through our funeral and memorial services. It’s our honour to help you plan a celebration.

How to plan a celebration of life

To help get you started, we’ve put together this list of personalization considerations. Use it as a guideline to plan a special celebration of life for yourself or a loved one.

  • Mementos and keepsakes
  • Food and beverage
  • Audio/visual
  • Speakers
  • Venues
  • Hobbies and interests


Wooden spatulas as mementos


Mementos and keepsakes

A keepsake is a unique token for guests to take with them following a funeral or memorial service. It can be as simple as a candle, poem or favourite candy or as personal as the secret recipe to an award-winning BBQ sauce. Whatever you choose, mementos are a way to celebrate the life of someone you love while providing a physical representation to honour their memory.

Ask the following questions to help choose the right memento for the occasion:

  • Is the keepsake something from a personal collection?
  • What message should the memento represent?
  • Will the keepsakes be included in the celebration? If so, how?
  • In what way could the keepsake be given out that is specifically meaningful to the person or their family?

Food and beverage

Food brings family and friends together and offers a warm environment to gather and share memories. A meal, during or after a celebration of life, is a chance to truly celebrate an individual with loved ones all around. From hors d'oeuvres to a backyard barbecue to coffee and cake, we can provide on-site catering* that is as unique as the person whose life is being celebrated.

Take into account the following considerations to plan the perfect catering package:

  • How many will be attending?
  • Will there be a full meal or just snacks?
  • Will you need tables, linens and flatware, or a wait staff?
  • How will the food and drinks tie into the atmosphere of the celebration?

A meal catered with love and thought will resonate with guests and add to the celebration experience. Even simple touches like sports-themed napkins for a football fan won’t go unnoticed. A Dignity Memorial® professional can help bring your catering wishes to reality.


Using technology in a celebration of life service can bring a special flourish of personalization to help memorialize someone you love. Slideshows, videos and playlists of favourite songs can usher in memories and create a comforting atmosphere for remembrance. Consider the following if you’d like to add these special touches:

  • What music, pictures, video or other content will represent precious memories of a loved one?
  • How will a slideshow, video or playlist honour and celebrate the life of the person being remembered?     
  • What audio/visual materials will you need to display your content?

Many Dignity Memorial providers are equipped with audio/visual capabilities, and our friendly associates can work with your family to create a Making Everlasting Memories slideshow of beloved family photos of your loved one. Our planning professionals can also help ensure the right equipment and personnel for a seamless occasion.


Speakers provide vocal power to honour the memory of a loved one who has passed. They take many forms and can be as formal or informal as you wish. Whether you’d like a close friend to share fond memories of the person being remembered or a clergy member to eulogize a loved one, speakers are the voice to honour a loved one and lead the funeral service. Funeral celebrants are also specially trained to incorporate personalized details into a funeral service and can be a great choice of speaker to share cherished memories and beloved stories of your loved one's life.

Take these things into account when choosing someone to speak at your loved one’s celebration of life:

  • Will it be family and close friends only?
  • Would you like to open the floor to other guests who have a story to share?
  • Will the service be formal or informal?
  • How personal would you like to make the memories shared by the speaker?

Once you determine who will speak, make sure they know how long to talk and how to introduce the next speaker. It can also work well to have one designated person to provide a quick introduction between each speaker. Most importantly, encourage your speakers to share stories from their hearts that reflect the values and the life your loved one lived. For more ideas, read The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Eulogy.


A special venue can be the perfect complement to a celebration of life ceremony. In fact, many Dignity Memorial locations offer reception rooms and gathering areas on site. In some cases, you may opt to have the celebration of life service at a funeral chapel or church and then host a reception elsewhere. No matter your wishes, ask yourself the following questions to narrow down the perfect venue to pay tribute to a loved one.

  • In what space(s) would you like to have the celebration of life?
  • What locations best represent the person being honoured?
  • Is there a favourite place or location special to the person being celebrated?
  • What are the costs associated with the desired locations?
  • Is the venue available?

Also, make sure to factor in things like time, traffic and weather. As you narrow your decision, our planning experts will work to plan the perfect details for the chosen venue.

Hobbies and interests

Whether you are planning for yourself or for someone else, carefully reflect on the passions, hobbies and interests of the person being remembered and make a list of each nuance you’d like included in the celebration of life. To make sure nothing is overlooked, we encourage you to share this list with family and friends and to talk about each aspect in detail.

A passion for personalization

We understand that planning a celebration of life may be unfamiliar to some. That’s why our Dignity Memorial professionals are here to help you plan for yourself or a loved one right down to the very last detail.

*Offerings vary by location. On-site catering not available where prohibited by law.


Imagine funeral planning differently

A funeral or memorial service should be a one-of-a-kind celebration. Everyone has their own unique story. How do you want to tell yours? Imagine is a book full of ideas for creating a beautiful and unforgettable remembrance for yourself or a loved one. Download Imagine to begin planning an unforgettable tribute today.


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