Top Tips for Planning a Memorial Service

Posted on June 23rd, 2020

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are being felt by everyone from school pupils to businesses and we have seen this first-hand with funeral restrictions impacting on people’s final goodbyes. This has led many to think about holding memorial services. As funeral directors in Colchester we have seen many memorials and below are our top tips for planning a memorial event.

Your Way
There is no right or wrong way to plan a memorial – to quote “My Way” (or rather misquote Frank Sinatra) – you can do it any way you please. Traditionally, a memorial service would follow a similar format to a traditional funeral service, but the rise in non-traditional funerals also reflects changes in memorial events. They are, by their very definition, events to remember someone who is no longer with us and how you choose to mark that is completely up to you. 

With so much choice it can hard to know where to start; we suggest thinking about guest numbers – will it be a small intimate gathering, are you expecting hundreds, or will attendance be somewhere in between? Although it is always hard to predict the number of attendees at any memorial, a “best guess” can help guide you on suitable venues / locations, catering and budget.

Once you have an idea of numbers, we would recommend considering the style of the memorial – are you hoping for something informal, formal, religious? An informal event may be held in a garden with a toast to your loved one… or perhaps you would prefer a more traditional memorial service in a church or a venue with a eulogy, readings and music? We would suggest considering what you and your loved one liked – would they have wanted a bit of ceremony or did they prefer a more relaxed style? Whether you are thinking of having a service in a church, a scattering of ashes ceremony, a walk or a drinks reception in a garden or luxurious venue, it is up to you.

Reflecting your loved one’s passions and hobbies at their memorial makes the event very personal – whether that is sharing photos or a favourite piece of music, a speaker remembering their lives or the event itself reflecting their passion. Was your loved one a walker, or a biker? You may wish to consider a memorial walk or road trip. Or did they love fishing – maybe a fishing event and picnic in a favourite spot?

Many memorial events include someone saying a few words, but this varies from short toasts to lengthy speeches and whatever you choose is fine. Our top tip for any toasts and speeches is make sure people can hear. We know that seems completely obvious but so many occasions people struggle to hear, but this is easily resolved. Many churches and venues have PA systems available and they can be readily hired for other locations.

There is a popular misconception that informal events are less planned than formal ones – but the good ones have just as much thought behind them, making the organising appear seamless. We would recommend creating a list and include the main elements of the memorial: guest numbers, location(s), who is speaking, transport, catering, extras (from a guest book to keepsakes, there are lots of options to consider if you wish) and more.

Planning any event can be overwhelming, particularly if you are grieving… but help is at hand. Sometimes friends and family like to help with planning but on the day itself or you may prefer the support of a professional event organiser. The team at Freedom Funerals are always here to help. We offer funerals in Colchester, Tendring and Essex but our support extends beyond the day itself – please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01206 862 963 if you require any support.