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Getting Started

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Getting Started Planning A Celebration of Life Tips

When planning a celebration of life service, you can plan anything you want it to be. You get to set the mood, the message, and even the theme, but always keep in the emotional needs of your guests. 

The three main components to determine are where, when and how to celebrate the passing of the loved one. You will need to create your guests list, location and the date. 


The guest list should be all of those that would want to be there. You can start making the list and then come back to it  as you start to plan. Remember the size of your guest list will determine the size of the venue or place you decide to hold the celebration of life.

Think about other things like; outdoors or indoors, ceremony style, capacity, formal or informal event.  Consider your location and guests when choosing a date.  One good thing is that the celebration does not need to be bound to a specific timeframe. 


Who will conduct or orchestrate the event?  Was your loved one religious?  You may want to hire a pastor or church minister to perform these tasks.  If not, maybe hire a non-denominational celebrant to oversee the celebration of life.

Who will speak at the event?  Oftentimes you will have many friends or family members willing to participate and give small presentations about their feelings and thoughts publicly.  You want the people sharing to have had a close relationship with the deceased to be a meaningful contribution.Speakers


This is where you can let your imagination go and think about all of the things your loved one enjoyed most in life.  It is also the space where everyone can share stories, laugh, and even cry together.  (See below for ideas.)

Another place where you can really get creative and incorporate your theme to be part of the food and beverage.  Did your loved one have a favorite type of food or favorite beverage?  Allow it to be part of the celebration.


Music may or may not have been an integral part of your loved one’s life; choose your music accordingly. You can choose more traditional music for the celebration or go all out with the music they loved.

This is where you can share a tribute video or one small part of someone’s life; it is up to you.


Depending on your theme you can keep it simple or go all out.  Decorations can vary from keeping it simple, to elegant, to over the top with your loved one’s favorite theme from their life.Maybe have a memory table with photos and other favorite things.  You can create a small memorable gift for guests to take home like a photo magnet or bookmarks with a favorite quote; it is endless what you can do.

Themes & Ideas

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Have each guest contribute a song to the playlist. 

(If you would like to take this further, you can have each guest share their reason for the song they chose.)  The playlist will then play continuously during the service/celebration. 

Lantern Releases

You can have each guest release a lit environmentally friendly lantern into the sky. This is very beautiful to watch

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Sharing meaningful memories together.

Have the guests bring photos or send them to you for a slideshow and then have your guests get up and share their photos or any memories. This often evokes a range of emotions from laughter to tears and promises to have a sense of healing and closure to the process.

Casting Ceremony (Scattering of the Ashes) 

You get to choose whatever you wish: in the mountains, ocean, lake, garden, or maybe even plant a tree. *Note: there are rules to follow for the environment, but there are many safe ways to do these.

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Sports Lover

Organize a golf tournament in honor of the deceased or attend a game of their favorite team.

The Foodie


You can create an event all around their favorite foods, drinks, or restaurants.

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Charitable person or someone who was passionate about animals.

Create an event that involves guests donating to the deceased’s most important charities or passions.

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