Planning a Celebration of Life Service

A Celebration of Life service is a non-traditional ceremony wherein a deceased person’s life and legacy is commemorated. The goal of these gatherings is to put more emphasis on honoring the memory of the deceased instead of mourning their death. Guests attending these events take this time to talk about the memories they had with the person who died. Compared to the more somber and traditional funeral services, Celebration of Life gatherings is more cheerful and optimistic. It is typically held right after the burial or cremation and, depending on the budget and the personality of the deceased, can either be small and intimate or grand.

Due to its non-traditional nature, Celebration of Life services are not typically held inside a church or a funeral home but rather at outdoor gardens, rented halls, or even at a close family member’s home. Some services can also be held at specific places which bears significance to the deceased.

Unlike traditional funerals, there are no set rules in planning a Celebration of Life service. Unless if your loved one left specific instructions, what you include in your service is completely up to you. You can choose whatever theme you see fit for the occasion. You also have the option to either hire a religious officer to preside the event or you can do it yourself.

As previously mentioned, there are no set rules in planning the service, but to give you an idea, here’s what a typical Celebration of Life service includes:

Speakers: This includes the host. They can talk about the deceased person’s personality and the fond memories they shared together.


Music: Live or digital music is acceptable and usually it is a genre that the deceased person enjoyed.


Refreshments: Depending on the venue of the service, guests can enjoy light snacks or catered meals.

Mementos: Scrapbooks, photo albums, videos and personal items of the deceased are usually presented on memory tables and display boards.

Memorial Booklet: A simple brochure or pamphlet outlining the Celebration of Life service that is given to the guests. These can easily be made by downloading templates here.


Memory Table: A simple display area for photos, scrapbooks and personal items of your loved one.


Videos: This is one of the more emotional aspects of the service. A meaningful video featuring the life of the deceased is a beautiful touch to add to the event. You can include childhood photos as well as those showing your loved one at his or her best. Consider making copies for the guests as a keepsake.


Memorial note cards: Let guests write notes to the family or write their favorite memory of the deceased on colorful papers and store them in special memorial boxes for future generations to read.

Balloon/Lantern/Dove release: This is usually done at the end of the service. Make your Celebration of Life service extra special and release balloons, lanterns, or doves into the sky for a symbolic and meaningful closure.


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