Short sample of a memorial service I shot..
How to Conduct a Memorial Service
Conducting a memorial service is a meaningful way to honor a person who has recently passed away. It is also a time for loved ones to remember the deceased, share their feelings with others, and seek comfort from other mourners. Unlike a funeral, the body of the deceased is not present at a memorial service, which creates additional flexibility in terms of timing and location.. This guide will help you plan and conduct the perfect memorial service to honor your loved one.
Making the Initial Arrangements
Get help planning the memorial service.The death of a loved one is a difficult time and planning a memorial service can be a daunting task. You don't have to go it alone! Enlist the help of friends and loved ones with the planning and preparations right from the beginning, and consider hiring outside help if needed.
- Most houses of worship have people on staff who can give guidance in this process.
- Funeral directors will also help, but will charge for their services.
- For a very large memorial service, consider hiring an event planner to help run the show.
Decide what kind of service you wish to have.A memorial service can take many forms and be as formal or informal as you like. Carefully consider the personality and wishes of the deceased, and the preferences of other family members when making your decision. Pay particular attention to religious preference, as this is often the biggest factor in choosing the kind of service to conduct.
- Traditional memorial services are usually more formal and somber in nature, and are frequently held in places of worship or funeral homes.
- Celebration of life gatherings tend to be less formal, and focus less on grieving and more on celebrating the memory of the deceased. Gatherings of this type can be held almost anywhere.
- Interment or sprinkling of ashes. If the deceased chose to be cremated, the memorial service is often held in conjunction with the interment or scattering of the ashes. The timing and location for this ceremony will depend on where the ashes will be placed.
Choose a location for the memorial service.If the service is to be religious in nature, a house of worship is an ideal choice. Funeral homes and banquet halls also work well for formal memorial services.
- Memorial services can also be held at the cemetery or crematorium, even after the interment has taken place.
- Consider holding a celebration of life service at a favorite place of the deceased. This could include a restaurant, park, or even a bowling alley.
- An ash sprinkling ceremony will take place outdoors, usually at a favorite place of the deceased. Many people choose to scatter ashes into the ocean or other body of water, or at a location with a beautiful view.
Schedule a date and time for the memorial service.Confer with the loved ones of the deceased to choose a day and time when everyone can attend. Remember to keep the needs of out-of-town guests in mind when making your choice. It is generally preferable to schedule the service on a weekend or in the evening to maximize the number of people who can intend.
- If the service is to be held outdoors, consider planning for a time when good weather is likely to occur.
- If the service will be held in a remote location, give people adequate time to make travel arrangements.
Make any necessary reservations.For most indoor locations, reservations are a must. If you are planning to hold your service at a public park, you may also need reservations or a permit, depending on the size of the service.
- You may also need to rent chairs, a podium, sound system, etc. These can all be reserved through a local event rental company.
Send out notifications of the date, time and location the service.This should be done as soon as possible. You can send out at additional details later as they arise.
- Personal phone calls are generally considered the most appropriate way to notify family members and close friends.
- Place a notice in the obituary section of the local newspaper. If an obituary has not yet been published, you can do this at the same time.
- Emails and social media are also good ways to get the word out about the service, and keep people updated of any changes.
- Be sure to notify current and former coworkers of the deceased who might wish to attend.
- Be prepared to provide lodging and transportation suggestions for out-of-town guests.
Planning the Actual Service
Select music for the service.Not all memorial services include music, but many do. The music should fit the type of service your are holding, but should also reflect the tastes of the deceased and the talents of friends and loved ones. Even a formal service can be concluded with a rousing rendition of the deceased's favorite jazz standard or rock anthem.
- Enlist or hire any musicians you might need as soon as you have a date to work with.
- Consider asking those closest to the deceased to make suggestions for music to play at the service.
- Remember to arrange for any sound equipment you might need. A portable stereo will work, but depending on the size and nature of the event, this might be the time to go all out and rent some professional speakers or even hire a DJ.
- Creating and distributing mix-CDs of the music played at the service can be a meaningful memento of the deceased.
Arrange to have flowers or other decorations at the service.If something is preferred in lieu of flowers, such as making contributions to a favored charity or memorial fund, make sure to include this information when announcing the memorial service to guests.
Provide a guestbook for people to sign.You might also encourage people to include phone numbers or other contact information so that relatives who have lost touch can reconnect.
Add personal touches to service wherever possible.The best memorial services really capture the spirit and personality of the deceased. If the deceased was known for wearing zany ties or Hawaiian shirts, encourage guests to do the same. If the deceased was a chocolate fiend, provide personalized candy favors for the guests. Use your imagination, the possibilities are endless!
Planning the Reception
Plan to provide refreshments after the service.Light refreshments should be provided at the memorial service even if an off-site reception will also be taking place. Refreshments might include coffee, cookies and juice, or something more elaborate. Having refreshments on hand will encourage people to linger and talk, and continue remembering the deceased in a more relaxed setting.
Choose the type of reception you wish to have.A post-memorial reception can take many forms, from a potluck at the home of a nearby relative, to a raucous after-party at the favorite bar of the deceased.
Choose a location for the reception.The reception should take place fairly near the location of the memorial service. Make any necessary reservations ahead of time, and prepare maps or clear directions to the reception site to distribute to guests at the memorial service.
Make arrangements for food and drink.If the reception will be a potluck, be sure to notify guests ahead of time and try to coordinate dishes. Hiring a caterer for the reception is another option that is often less stressful on the family of the deceased.
Assign or hire someone to be in charge of managing the refreshments and the reception.If at all possible, delegate this task to a friend or associate who will not mind missing the memorial service to ensure that the refreshments are in place and kept stocked, and that the reception venue is in order.
Allow sufficient travel time to the reception site.Allow for at least a half an hour between the end of the memorial service and the beginning of the reception to allow people time to rest, freshen up, and change clothes if they would like.
- If the reception will be an adults-only event, consider helping to arrange childcare for any parents who would like to attend.
QuestionWe are having the memorial service at our church. Our basement is too small to accommodate all the people that will be there. Is it tacky not to have refreshments after?Community AnswerNothing you do at a memorial service is tacky, as everyone understands you are at maximum stress, pain and grieving. In most churches, there are a few people who will bring something to drink. Other people might bring cookies. Churches are very organized regarding things like this, so there's no need for you to worry about it.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I create a nice, simple guest sign in book?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany funeral homes have these available as part of the services or to purchase. If you would like something more personal you can purchase basic sign in books of different styles and sizes at most hobby or craft stores. You can include a photo/photos of the deceased and include the bulletin/funeral notice on the inside cover. You may also choose to include a quote or favorite scripture. For a bit less you can find blank or lined booklets at bargain stores with stationary or office products. You can add the items listed for a personal touch and include the date and nature of the service.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the purpose of using candles in a memorial service?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCandles are often lit in remembrance or mourning, so they are frequently used in memorial services.Thanks!
QuestionThis is an afternoon memorial. Do we need to wear black clothing?Community AnswerNo. You don't have to wear black. Other dark or neutral colors would also be appropriate, and it would be best not to wear anything very bright or flashy.Thanks!
QuestionDo you pay the emcee for conducting the funeral service?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionHow soon after a private family service would it be appropiate to have a gathering for the rest of the family?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat is up to the immediate family. You could have it the next day or weekend. It's best to plan it on the sooner end so everyone can have the closure they need.Thanks!
QuestionHow is the commitment of the ashes done?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may say a few words before spreading the ashes somewhere.Thanks!
QuestionHow could we arrange a small memorial gathering for the other relatives after a private family internment?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhy would you exclude family members? Gather everyone together and hold a private family memorial. Sometimes a funeral is a good time to bury the past -- not just a cherished loved one.Thanks!
- Be prepared for many different types of mourning at the memorial service. Some people remain stoic through their grief while others are comfortable openly displaying their sadness.
- Be sure to have an abundance of tissues available during the service.
- Always check local laws before scattering ashes in a public place.
Video: How to Plan a Memorial Service
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