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Planning a Memorial Service or Life Celebration

A lot of families are choosing to hold a private cremation or burial and to separately invite family and friends to come together for a traditional memorial service or a more contemporary life celebration.


This is where as a celebrant I can assist. 


Planning a ceremony begins with one primary decision. Will the event be a memorial service or a more contemporary life celebration?

A memorial service is typically focused around a recent loss and often has religious overtones. A life celebration is centred on the joy of having been blessed by a person’s presence, and is often nonreligious in nature. When considering these options, it may be helpful to think about the culture of the family, religious preferences, circumstances leading up to death and any wishes previously indicated by the deceased.

I have put together a planning guide on how to host a memorial service or life celebration. For either style of service you choose to hold, below is a summarised checklist as a planning tool to assist.​ 

+ Determine the type of service or celebration

+ Decide on location, date and time, and who will attend

+ Outline a budget that cover’s catering, invitations, celebrant, flowers/decorations etc

+ If desired, publish details about the service with the obituary in local papers

+ Compile a guest list and send invitations. Make sure you include an RSVP

+ Choose a celebrant to help you design and to facilitate your service

+ Write an eulogy, consider inviting family and/or close friends to speak, as well

+ Put together a reflection of photos and video’s you would like to share

+ Select music, you may want a friend to play, or hire a musician

+ Create a program or design keepsake handout for guests i.e. bookmarks

+ If cremation has been chosen, consider a memorial urn for the service and or a photo of your loved one

+ Arrange catering, alternatively ask family and close friends to bring a plate of your loved one’s favourite dishes

+ Consider important final touches: photos, flowers, planting of a tree, a memory table or board, and a memory chest for written notes

+ Write thank-you notes for help received

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