Each of us is unique and deserves to be remembered in a special way. A funeral or memorial service can be a tribute that truly reflects the life it commemorates. Honoring a life with personal touches and details can also create a meaningful and lasting remembrance for family members and friends who attend the service.
Planning a special celebration for a loved one—or for yourself before the time of need—is easier with the help of a funeral planning professional. Start with your unique memories, stories and ideas to begin creating a special celebration of life. Personalizing a service or memorial can mean adding small details to a traditional event or planning a more elaborate affair. Whatever your preference, Dignity Memorial® professionals are here to help you design a personalized service that will leave an indelible mark on the hearts of family and friends. From flowers and music to food and mementos, there are many funeral ideas to contribute to a memorable tribute.
How do I customize a funeral?
Customizing a funeral can include meaningful reflections of your or your loved one’s personality woven into a traditional service or a one-of-a-kind celebration of life. The caring professionals at your local Dignity Memorial provider can help you plan a funeral service that honors a special life, whether simply or in a more elaborate way. You can also download Imagine, a guide filled with creative funeral ideas, to help start the conversation with family and friends in the comfort of your own home. Ideas for a customized funeral or memorial service could include a favorite song or style of music played, a favorite color worn by attendees, specialty food served after the service or mementos provided as a token of remembrance.
Creative funeral ideas—special touches
A traditional funeral service is the perfect choice for some families, but even traditional services can be customized to reflect personality, passions and even a signature style. The uniqueness of a life can be expressed without compromising the traditional aspects of a service.
Speech. A personalized eulogy is one way to express how special someone was. As you share stories and memories about yourself or your family member, you offer your Dignity Memorial professional an important glimpse into personal qualities, interests and personality. The moments that stand out for you or the things you remember about someone can often be incorporated into the service to become poignant pieces of a eulogy.
Music. Music can evoke memories of special times. If you are planning a funeral ahead of time, think about songs that are meaningful to you. Write them down in your planning guide and share them with your family and a funeral planning professional to ensure your wishes are known.
If you are planning a funeral for for a friend or family member, think about a song he or she always hummed when happy or sang in the shower. Did he have a favorite band? Did she identify with a certain singer? Our funeral planning professionals can help create a custom playlist or organize live musicians to play at the service.
Decor and mementos. These unique items of remembrance can bring comfort and a smile to family and friends attending a funeral service. Any interest, hobby or favorite person, place or thing can be an idea or inspiration for personalizing a funeral service. Decorating the funeral home chapel and lobby or service location is another way to reflect a passion and personality. From cooking to traveling, running to reading, acting to origami, there are endless ways to tell special stories. For a golfing enthusiast, bring in his or her golf bag—clubs and all—and hand out personalized golf balls to guests. Place a world-class quilter’s cherished work on display. Or, if gardening was a passion, decorate the service with flowers and plants, and hand out personalized seed packets for guests to take home in remembrance.
Attire. Think about the favorite color of your loved one—or your favorite color if planning ahead. Consider asking funeral guests to wear that color as a tribute in lieu of traditional black. The type of clothing worn is another idea. Friends of a horse-racing enthusiast could wear Derby-style hats. Jerseys, t-shirts and colors of a beloved sports team are also a way to personalize a service. Requests for certain attire can be made in the online obituary, along with details of the service time and location.
Flowers. Flowers have special meanings to us all. Bouquets of a favorite flower can be placed throughout the service area and a bloom can be given to each guest as a special memento. Pallbearers can wear boutonnieres or place flowers in their hair. Flowers can be displayed in a way that carries out a theme as well—think floral arrangements in teapots, watering cans, cowboy boots, coffee cups and more. As an alternative to flowers, arrangements of other greenery or fresh fruits or vegetables could be displayed.
Charity. Some families prefer that friends and family donate time or money to a favorite charity in lieu of sending flowers. It could be a church, a homeless mission or a humanitarian outreach program, just to name a few.
Creative funeral ideas—big gestures
Some people live big, bold lives and want big, bold end-of-life celebrations. In these cases, a personalized celebration of life can become a fitting tribute to reflect that special personality.
Honor of service. For qualified members of the military, your Dignity Memorial provider can help to arrange military funeral honors. They also provide honors to public servants—firefighters, police officers and other civil servants—as well. Personal touches can include a police horse processional or a fire truck retrofitted to transport a casket and pallbearers.
Special events. Some families like to include small, sweet touches in a service, while others want to take an idea and really run with it. For a baseball fan, this could mean not only a ball and glove placed in the casket, but also an organist playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the start of the service. Attendees could be asked to wear team t-shirts and be treated to hot dogs, peanuts, nachos and beer afterward. Maybe everyone goes home with a baseball cap emblazoned with their loved one’s name and dates of life.
A geographical region and cultural heritage may be the focal point of a funeral service. A lifelong Lone Star State native might request a Texas flag spread across his casket and longhorn table centerpieces. A service with friends and family remembering good times could be followed by an outdoor barbecue complete with a Texas country band and guests two-stepping into the night.
Food. Many Dignity Memorial locations offer . A menu that reflects your loved one’s passion for cooking or a favorite cuisine sets a special tone for those who gather to remember. This could range from light hors d’oeuvres to a buffet to a sit-down meal with table service. If you or your loved one had a special sauce or a beloved cookie recipe, share it with your Dignity Memorial professional and incorporate it into the menu or use it to make takeaway mementos. Favorite foods can even be served on someone’s treasured dishes.
Keepsakes. Families may choose to give funeral attendees mementos or keepsakes to help them remember their loved one. The possibilities are limitless. Some examples include:
- Engraved golf balls for an avid golfer
- A favorite lure used by a passionate fisherman
- A copy of a librarian’s best-loved book
- A packet of forget-me-not seeds for a master gardener
- Customized ornaments for someone who loved the holidays
Mementos may extend to things given to close family members as well. Photos can be used to create a remembrance blanket, or favorite t-shirts can become a memory quilt. A large portrait printed on canvas can be displayed at a memorial service and then taken home by the family.
Ideas for a cemetery or graveside service
Though many people plan the decor and speeches at a funeral, the service at the grave site may be overlooked. Unique and personal touches can be incorporated here as well, starting with the procession from the chapel to the cemetery. An avid cyclist, for example, might like riding club friends to escort the procession, while a musician might choose a band to lead the way.
Once at the cemetery or memorial park, music reflecting a loved one's culture, heritage or passion could be performed or played. A mariachi band brings festive energy. A lone bagpiper can be deeply moving.
Some families choose a symbolic gesture associated with their beliefs. A butterfly release symbolizes new life. Releasing balloons in a single favorite color makes a statement. Guests might want to tie notes of hope to the ends of the balloons strings. A dove release is yet another special tribute and remembrance option.
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.