When your time comes, how would you like to be remembered? Many people these days are opting to forego the somber funeral in favor of a memorial service or a celebration of life. This event is a way to remember the joy that a loved one brought to others. It’s typically a highly personalized occasion that can include just as many laughs as tears. If you’re considering ways to honor a loved one, it can be hard to know where to start. At Catering St. Louis Events, we can help with venues and full-service planning service that can make a celebration of life a touching, memorable event for your family and friends.
How is Planning a Celebration of Life Different from a Funeral?
The traditional purpose of a funeral is to help a mourning family acknowledge and commemorate someone they love who has passed away. At funerals, visitors may murmur in low voices or speak philosophically about the nature of life and death. At a celebration of life, however, the focus is on the positive and the joyful. While these events still comfort friends and family members after a death, they’re often a little more creative and a little more casual than traditional funerals. They may also occur weeks or months after a loved one’s actual death. Unlike funerals, these celebrations may or may not have a religious aspect. In fact, they may feel more like a party, which is sometimes just what the deceased would have wanted.
What Should You Consider as You Plan a Celebration of Life?
When someone we love dies, there are certain things we all feel and want. It’s important to have a chance to say goodbye, even if it’s after the fact. We also want to find meaning and comfort as we cope with a loss of this magnitude. In fact, it’s hard to move on at all until we have a chance to come together with others and honor our loved one’s memory. A celebration of life gives us a chance to tell our favorite stories about the deceased, as we laugh, cry and comfort one another. The focus, however, shouldn’t be on the loss, but on the special qualities that person brought to life and the happy times we had with him or her.
Since these celebrations can be creative and even fun, you may want to think outside the box as you consider how you’ll best honor your loved one. Some ideas include:
- Ask guests to tell their funniest or best story about the deceased.
- Share memories by asking people to bring photos or mementos.
- Play a video or slideshow of your best photos.
- Ask guests to write about a memory they have of the deceased and put it in a box or jar, so the grieving family can read all of these memories later.
- Play music that the deceased person would have enjoyed.
- Light candles or send off sky lanterns or balloons to honor the deceased.
- Set up a scholarship or a donation to a cause your loved one supported.
The best thing about a celebration of life is that it can be customized however your loved one would have wanted. Anything from an impromptu poker game or a group hike is appropriate. When you plan an event like this, consider how formal you want the event to be. How should guests dress—in jeans and t-shirts or in dresses and suits? Consider the loved one’s interests and passions. Is there a way to bring these activities into the celebration?
How to Plan a Celebration of Life for Your Loved One
When it comes to planning, we can recommend that you consider the items on this list. If you’d like help from professional event planners, we would be happy to work with you.
- Set a budget.
- Estimate how many people may be there.
- Find the right location and set a date and time for your event.
- Decide on activities you’d like to include, or speakers you’d like to invite. You can also plan a time for friends and relatives to share their memories.
- Decide on refreshments and drinks. You may choose to serve light appetizers or a more formal dinner. You may want to consider your loved one’s favorite drinks or dishes.
- Think about adding photos or a slideshow you may want to include in your memorial event.
- Decide on an order of events and if you’d like to print a program. Sometimes these programs can serve as keepsakes for your family and friends.
- Finally, decide how you’ll invite your guests, and if you’ll need to send invitations.
If you decide to print a program for your event, there are a few standard elements to include. You may also wish to add photos of your loved one. A typical celebration of life will include the following:
- A meet and greet so your guests can simply mingle and talk.
- Music that sets the tone and honors your loved one.
- Food and drinks, and a time for people to enjoy them. This may be during the meet and greet or it may be a scheduled dinner. There should be no rush.
- Speakers or readings. You may decide to read a scripture, poem or funny anecdote. You may also decide to open this up to people who want to share their memories.
- Activities or a presentation to honor your loved one.
- Saying goodbye. Be sure to let your guests know just how much you appreciate their participation.