Planning a Cremation Memorial Service

A memorial service is a way to honor and remember a person’s life. Though most people are familiar with traditional funeral services, they may not understand all of the many options available when choosing cremation or the important aspects to consider when planning a cremation funeral. A cremation funeral service can include many of the same elements as a traditional funeral: flowers, music, readings, even a viewing.

If you have an immediate need to plan a cremation service or funeral for a loved one, reach out to your local Dignity Memorial® provider. A professional planner or funeral celebrant can answer all of your questions about cremation and cremation funerals to help you design a one-of-a-kind service for your loved one.

If you are planning ahead, here are some things to think about.

When to hold the cremation service

There isn’t a “right” time for a memorial service, and a cremation funeral can be held before or after the cremation itself.

When a funeral is held prior to cremation, the service can include a viewing, as with a traditional funeral. A viewing lets friends and family say a final goodbye. With this option, some families buy a casket; others rent a casket.

When a funeral is held after the cremation has occurred, the cremated remains (or "ashes") are usually present at the service in a cremation urn or other container. You can surround the urn with cherished photos and important keepsakes of the person being honored to create a focal point that helps guests remember and celebrate your loved one’s life.

Where to place cremated remains

Cremation has the benefit of providing even more options for commemorating a life than traditional burial. Some families bury cremated remains in a cemetery; others place them in a cremation niche in a mausoleum. Some people ask that their ashes be scattered in a personally meaningful place; others want a family member to keep the ashes at home. No matter what choice your family makes, there is an opportunity to honor the life of your loved one with a ceremony memorializing the event. From a traditional graveside service to a beach gathering that ends in an ocean scattering, there is a meaningful cremation service option for everyone.

Regardless of where the final resting spot is, many families like to have a personalized marker and physical place to visit and remember their loved ones. Cemeteries offer options like pedestals, benches and statuary, but if a traditional site in a cemetery doesn’t appeal to your family, think outside the box. What activities or places were significant to your loved one? Consider planting a tree as a memorial or placing an engraved boulder at a special spot. You might purchase a bench or a paver for a sidewalk. Let your loved one's life inspire you.

And finally, in addition to those options, custom cremation jewelry houses and protects a bit of cremated remains in a timeless keepsake that can be passed from generation to generation.

Glass-front niche containing an urn, peals and photograph at Ocean View Funeral Home and Burial Park.
Fountain of Remembrance at Finley Sunset Hills Mortuary

Cremation funeral ideas

Today’s cremation funerals can be religious ceremonies or lively celebrations with themed decor, favorite foods and live music. Either way, they should reflect the personality and passions of the person being remembered. There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate a life. Even simple details and personal touches make for a deeply meaningful memorial service.

Here are a few things to think about when planning a cremation funeral:

Theme: A cremation funeral can be a no-frills event to match a pared-down personality or an extravagant affair to honor a passionate extrovert. What's important is that the service uniquely reflects the person’s life. A funeral theme typically draws on a hobby or a signature style. Was she a shoe lover? Was he a golf pro? Did she have a reputation as the city’s best cookie baker? Did the whole town count on him to play Santa Claus for the kids? We’ve created funerals for world travelers and bookworms, equestrians and poets. We can help you find inspiration and then help you decide just how far to take it.

Event details: A cremation funeral can include readings of eulogies, religious verses, passages from literature and more. It can include a group song, a conga line, or an activity like hiking a favorite trail. Will it include a breakfast buffet? A cake-and-coffee reception? An outdoor barbecue? A formal dinner? A truly elaborate event can include fireworks, but personalization does not have to be over the top. You can honor a loved one with something as simple as a poem.

Location: Programming for the event influences where you hold the cremation funeral. The funeral home is a convenient choice, and most funeral homes today have space for catered receptions. In fact, some funeral homes have spaces that are as fine as a hotel ballroom or as sophisticated as a wine bar. A cremation funeral could also be held at a church, the family’s home or someplace outdoors (your Dignity Memorial provider will know about any necessary permitting).

Keepsakes: Many families want to give funeral attendees a token to represent the person being remembered. A bookmark or a recipe card, custom golf balls or key chains, a person’s favorite candy or even a piece from a collection are all wonderful ways to let someone know you are touched that they attended the funeral and allow them a little something by which to remember their friend or family member.


Plan a memorable cremation funeral

Planning a personalized cremation funeral or memorial is an event unlike any other. We created a guide to help you understand all of your cremation options and how to plan a truly memorable event. Understanding Cremation—A Complete Guide is free, and it will help you start planning today. Then, when you are ready, a Dignity Memorial provider will be there to walk you through every step of the cremation process.

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