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How to plan a celebration of life

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When a loved one dies, people long for a celebration of life. A party is a sensational way to remember the one you love. A funeral that is held early in the morning allows relatives to attend the funeral, and a celebration of life, a remembrance ceremony, is an important part of the grieving process.

It brings members of family and friends together to share stories, reminisce and honor a loved one with favorite food, flowers, music, decor and more. A celebration of life can be a celebration of personal stories, family treasures, friendships, skill and creativity, love, loss and the gratitude of the older generation.

Trinity Funeral Chapel are experts in life celebrations, to make their services as unforgettable as possible. Trinity Funeral Chapel providers know how to capture the details that made a loved one unique in the world and design a gathering that deeply reflects their life and death.

What makes a great celebration of life? Here we outline the essentials for planning a beautiful and fitting tribute.

Essential checklist for planning a celebration of life

Here's how you can get started planning a celebration of life.

1. Find a funeral celebrant

A funeral celebrant works with their loved one to create a tailored memorial that is customized to the family's beliefs and preferences. They know exactly how to create a gathering that captures all the attention and remembers just how precious a cherished time with a loved one can be.

2. Choose a special venue

Many funeral homes that are open for business will have an exciting celebration of life center or large, flexible reception space that is easily transformed into everything from a garden to a golf green. Whether you have tucked your picnic down in the parking lot or added a spa day to your weekend, our planners, arrangers, and certified celebrants can work with any venue that your chosen location.

3. Consider the decor

A popular theme for memorialization is a theme such as a favorite color or a hobby; a place for old photos or keepsakes may often be identified with the present. From there, the imagination is the limit. Our professionals deck out a room in hot pink: we've decked out one room in vibrant pink and another room in warm pink. We've hung a mirror ball in our space, which turns a room into a disco. We've even turned our living room into a playroom with a jungle gym and a slide.

4. Think about what people should wear

Memorializing a loved one is a personal and sacred experience. As such, there is no one right way to do it. You may want to consider what people should wear to the event. Black is a popular color to wear to a funeral, but you may want your guests to wear something that reflects the personality of your loved one. Not everyone is aware of the need to dress up for a funeral. In many cases, people will choose to wear their best clothes to a celebration of life. It is not necessary to dress in all black, but it is appropriate to dress respectfully. You may want to consider a theme for the clothing, such as “red for love” or “blue for sadness.” In some celebrations might call for costumes. And if you’re still in a state of mourning, this is just another way to disrupt the social order of the gathering and disturb the quiet while adding to your already-disturbed mood.

5. Plan for food and drinks

Having food and beverages at celebrations is customary, and a celebration of life is no different. When you share a meal or raise a glass with loved ones, it's a great way to bring comfort and joy. If you're looking to have your event catered, most Dignity Memorial locations have a local partner that can help. We understand that in some families, food and drink preferences are very important. If your family loves Chinese takeout, we can include egg rolls. If your family always celebrates special occasions with pasta from a particular Italian restaurant, we can make arrangements for lasagna. And if your uncle had a signature drink, we would be honored to serve it at his celebration of life.

6. Choose the right music

Music has always been a key component. It sets the tone for the entire event, from the ceremony to the reception. It can be a way to bring people together and create an atmosphere of love and joy. When a loved one dies, people often look for a celebration of life in order to remember the one they loved. A party is a great way to commemorate a life well lived. If the funeral is held early in the morning, it allows relatives who live far away to attend without having to take time off of work. Plus, playing a loved one's favorite songs can help stir memories and foster connection among guests. Some families choose to hire a single musician, while others ask for a six-piece band. A DJ might be a better fit for certain celebrations, and a personalized playlist is a great way to keep costs down.

7. Designate an emcee

A celebration of life is a time for family and friends to come together and remember the life of a lost loved one. This can be done through readings, poems or prayers, but more likely, you will see and hear guests telling funny stories about happy times or sharing touching memories of the loved one lost. It is a time to remember the good times and to support one another through the grieving process. It is a time to celebrate the life that was lived, and to cherish the memories that we have. It can be helpful in more casual settings to assign an emcee, so that everyone has a chance to share their story without one person hogging the spotlight.

8. Order favors or keepsakes

Small takeaways are a great way to end a personalized gathering on a high note. If your Dad is an avid golfer, sending guests home with personalized golf balls is a thoughtful way to show how much you care. Not to mention, it's a nice way for guests to remember the good times they had at the party. If your mother was the world's greatest cook, have her recipes laminated and presented in pretty recipe boxes. This way, your guests can take home a piece of her culinary genius. If Aunt Betty was known far and wide for her chocolate chip cookies, make sure that every guest has a half dozen to take home. These kinds of little touches make an event particularly memorable for all the guests.

Plan every detail

A few celebration of life ideas

A certified celebrant is the best option for those looking for a truly unique and special celebration of life. They are trained to get to know the person who has passed away and then use that information to design a celebration that captures their essence. Our planners have hundreds of great ideas for celebrations of life, but here are just a few to get you inspired:

For a dad: When a love for fishing is passed down from father to son, there is nothing more special than spending an afternoon at his favorite fishing hole. The sound of the peaceful river flowing by, the smell of nature all around, and the excitement of the possibility of a big catch make for an unforgettable experience. And when you top it off with a fish fry afterwards, it's the perfect day.

For a mom: An event for people who love puppies, where there will be a party and adoption opportunities.

For a daughter: When a loved one passes away, it is customary to hold a memorial service to honor their life. A star-gazing party with a sparkler send-off for everyone's favorite astronomer is a great way to celebrate their life and share memories with friends and family.

For a son: A barn dance for the guy who won the county two-step championship.

A celebration of life is always special, no matter what. Remembering every detail makes it even more so. This is a time to support one another, share stories, and reflect on the life that has been lived. 

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