Creating a beautiful ceremony for your loved one

A traditional funeral ceremony tends to be a structured, formal event. If you prefer a more informal type of gathering, there are many ways to make a funeral for your loved one unique and memorable, just like their life. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Hold the gathering at a place that was special to them or that they would have liked. 
  • Print a large photo of your loved one to serve as a focal point during the gathering.
  • Set out a guest book for guests to read and sign. This can be a simple guest register, or something even more creative. If you like to scrapbook and have the time, create a memorial scrapbook and lay the pages out individually across a few tables. Guests can sign and write a memory next to a favorite photo. When you reassemble the pages later, you will have a beautiful memory book.
  • Create a memorial video with a slideshow of photos to play during the event.  Time spent gathering photos and sharing memories can be a healing experience for you and your family. Our staff can put the video together for you.
  • Set up a memorial table with mementos such as cherished possessions, awards, photographs, artwork, other creations.  If your loved one was an artist, hang their artwork or decorate the funeral chapel with art that illustrates their personality or interests. Was the deceased a quilter? Display some of their best work. Was she a particular fan of Picasso? Why not find some prints to display?
  • Set up a digital photo frame to show even more photos.
  • Select a customized casket or urn. These days, urns and caskets come in a variety of materials, and they can often be customized. When picking out a casket or urn, think of how you can choose one that reflects your loved one’s personality or interests. Caskets come in materials such as metal, standard steel and wood.  Hardware on the casket, such as custom handles and corners, can reflect objects that the deceased admired.  Some examples are flags, favorite sporting team, praying hands and flowers. With both caskets and urns, you can often choose custom engravings or other personalized elements, so don’t be afraid to discuss your options with our staff.
  • Ask guests to write memories on note cards as they arrive, or in the days before the service, to be read aloud.
  • Don’t be afraid to show and invoke emotion.  A meaningful funeral will have both tears and laughter as you mourn, but also celebrate together.
  • If the obituary is not provided in written format, consider reading it during the gathering before a time of sharing. 
  • Use readings, eulogies and music to paint a picture of what they saw and experienced throughout their lifetime, including historical, civic and personal events.  Explain to younger guests what life was like for them growing up.
  • Tell their favorite stories or jokes.  Have a storytelling contest among the guests for the best story about their life.
  • Play their favorite music in the background of the gathering, or arrange for local musicians to play covers of their favorite songs.
  • Collect memorial donations for their favorite charity or organization.
  • Make copies of favorite photos of your loved one, and paperclip them to helium-filled balloons.  Guests can take a balloon, keep the photo as a memento, and release the balloons together outdoors.

A funeral or memorial gathering can be as unique as your loved one.


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