A celebration of life service is a type of memorial service for a loved one or family member that is used as an opportunity to honor and remember the life of a deceased person. These types of memorial services may look different from a traditional funeral service or memorial service but can also have similar things included in the service as well.
Typically, a celebration of life is time to celebrate the joy around the life of a deceased person’s life and their memory rather than a time to grieve. It is a time for people to talk about the deceased person’s legacy, find ways to honor the family member and share memories.
How to Plan a Celebration of Life Service
Losing a loved one can be an emotional process for families, but a celebration of life ceremony does not always have to be a somber event. For some people it can feel like a challenge to know the right way to plan a celebration of life event. Some things to consider when planning this event include the location of where you will hold the event, decorations that you will use, the type of music that you will play, whether or not it will follow a burial, the kind of food that you will serve and other things you may find important to include for the service.
Whatever your loved one’s interests were or what type of personality they had, a well-planned celebration of life service is a customized service informed by the things that made a person special. It’s an uplifting and personal occasion where laughter and tears are both equally welcome.
Planning a Celebration of Life
A celebration of life service is much like a party or celebration with a purpose. There are many details to consider when planning this type of affair including what music you will play, which guests you will invite, what kind of flowers to have, and whether you will use a coordinator from Eternally Loved.
The purpose of this event is to remember the deceased person in a fun, positive, and personal way. It gives guests an opportunity to celebrate the life of the person, share memories, and offer a safe place to honor their memory. There are no right or wrong ways to host a celebration of life service–they can be extravagant or low-key. That is the nice thing about this kind of service, there are no specific ways to honor a loved one.
A traditional funeral order of service list may include the following: musical prelude, intro/words of welcome, prayers, readings or scripture readings, and more musical selections. This is not always the case with a celebration of life event. It can include whatever aspects you would like and be in whatever order you would like.
Choosing the venue or place for services to celebrate a life will depend on the kind of service that you would like to hold for your family or loved one. An individual who is looking for a small get together or party will choose a place that is more intimate like a restaurant, recreational center or even someone’s backyard. Others who would like a large gathering will need somewhere with more space like a hotel or a country club/golf course.
A funeral home often times has celebration of life room or area but they rarely hold more than 20 people this is why most families may decide to use another location other than a funeral home, such as someplace their loved one held dear to their heart or such as their own backyard or favorite town that meant something to them. Most loved ones are cremated and were spiritual not religious so they want a service and a reception all in the same venue. Everyone will have different reasons for where they want to hold their event.
What Kind of Food do you Serve at a Celebration of Life Service?
When planning what kind of food to have at your event you will want to consider the location, time of day, and how many guests will be coming. Having more options for food is always best, but you may want to keep it simple with mini appetizers or snacks. Other events that are held at a meal time may require a full service meal such as a lunch or dinner.
Are there Readings, Prayers and Eulogies at a Celebration of Life?
Yes, there can be readings, prayers and eulogies at a celebration of life service. This is the case even if they were not religious and have a non-denominational officiant or master of ceremony. Quotes or readings chosen for these services are often different than those chosen for a traditional funeral. You can choose quotes, memorial poems, and a variety of other readings to read at the service. You can also provide funeral programs that may be distributed at the service.
What do you Wear to a Celebration of Life Service?
Typically, the theme and venue will help determine what to wear to a celebration of life to this service. Most families specify casual attire but if it isn’t stated then sticking with what you would wear to a funeral will be your best bet, unless the attire is listed on the invitation for the guests as something unique like do not wear all black, or wear Hawaiian shirts because they loved Hawaii. Families may also choose to have people wear a certain color that their loved one liked to honor them. This would be indicated on the invitation.
Celebration of Life Ideas
The moments following a death can feel overwhelming, and oftentimes filled with grief. It may seem difficult to think about planning a celebration of life ceremony, traditional funeral service or other funeral programs. There are many celebrations of life ideas that can be used when planning these special celebrations for your family or a loved one.
Celebrations of life can be customized and individualized to whatever the loved ones, family or people involved would like them to look like. Unlike funerals, which are typically conducted in a certain fashion, celebrations of life can be catered to the friends and family of the deceased person.
All life celebrations are unique in their own way and are specific to the people planning them. Here are a few ideas for families, but our planners at Eternally Loved have many more they can offer you:
- A star-gazing party with a sparkler sendoff for someone who loved astronomy
- Visiting a father’s favorite fishing spot, enjoying the afternoon with a fish fry to follow
- Celebration in a barn with dancing for someone who was the reigning two-step champion of the city or state they lived in
- A puppy party and adoption event for the impassioned animal lover
Whatever direction the service takes, life services are always special. If you are struggling with finding a way to honor your loved one, please reach out to Melissa Rainey at Eternally Loved for support and help through this process.
Celebration of Life Decorations and Service Ideas
A celebration of life service is typically held in place of a memorial service after the deceased individual’s burial, cremation or funeral program, or memorial services although it is becoming more common to host this kind of gathering in lieu of traditional funerals. Below are some celebration of life ideas that you can include in your service.
There are many different options and things that you can include in the service for a celebration of life gathering. Some examples of things you can include are dove releases, paper lanterns, a balloon release, memory board, pictures of their favorite sports team, an art gallery, or other photo boards.
Memory Table or Memory Book
Display personal items, photos, and scrapbooks about your loved one. For example, if he or she was a member of the military, you can display the American flag, uniform, medals or commendations, discharge papers, pictures, letters, etc.
Tribute Video Slideshow
Friends, family and other guests may want to contribute photos that you can use to create a slideshow that honors the deceased individual. A video slideshow outlining the deceased person’s life is a beautiful sentiment to add to this event.
Guests including friends, family, co workers or others that are invited to the program can sign a guestbook with their name or thoughts, and kind words that they would like to include. This could be a memory, fun times they spent with the person, or other things they find memorable about the person.
Honoring a Loved One through Celebration of Life Services
Unlike a funeral, a celebration of life can honor the death of a loved one in a multitude of ways. You do not necessarily have to go the traditional route that includes a burial or cremation, but life celebrations may follow these services. If they are being buried or scattering the ashes you can still have the celebration of life later, it doesn’t have to be the same day. Celebrations of life service offers individuals the opportunity to focus on finding meaning in a life well-lived, striking a more uplifting tone, and including personal, meaningful specifics about your loved one.
Planning a Celebration of Life Service with Eternally Loved
Eternally Loved is San Diego’s premier memorial planner servicing the San Diego, Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties. We offer help to everyone who is looking for help with planning these ceremonies. We focus on creating unique and special memorial events that focus on the life of people who have passed away.
Our staff determine what important features that someone wants to include in all the celebrations of life that we plan. Celebrations of life can incorporate details of someone who has died including their personality, taste in music, and qualities that made them who they were as a person.
Our memorial programs include planning and consulting during the entire process of the ceremony, mapping out the entire day, assisting with menu and food selections, being the main point of contact for the day and much more. We can provide more support and advice to determine the best ceremony for your family or deceased person.
For questions, more information or more resources, please reach out to the staff at Eternally Loved. We would be happy to schedule a consultation and to help you plan the perfect event for your family or loved one.