How To Pre-Plan a Memorial Service

If you want to plan a service that takes place after burial or cremation, you'll want to plan a memorial service. Memorial services can take place any time after the burial or cremation has happened, from a few days after the disposition to a year after the disposition.

Many people confuse memorial services and funeral services. The main difference between a memorial service and a funeral service is that burial or cremation takes place before a memorial service, whereas burial or cremation takes place after a funeral service. Memorial services are often the type of service chosen in the event of direct burial or direct cremation and they are typically chosen in lieu of having a funeral.

Memorial service locations

Memorial services may be held in any location. Many people choose locations with personal significance, such as a favorite beach, park, or family home, or locations that can accommodate a large group, such as a religious place of worship, a favorite restaurant, a banquet hall, or other event space. If there are venues that are particularly meaningful or appealing to you, be in touch with those venues to see if they can accommodate a memorial service and let your family know of your preferences.

Think about who you'd like to attend your memorial service

You can can choose to invite just family to a memorial service, or you can decide to invite friends and extended family as well. You can tell your family who you'd like to attend your memorial service, you or can create a guest list for your memorial service that your family can use when the time comes.

Post-memorial service reception or gathering 

After a memorial service, it is common to have a reception or gathering, which can be held at a funeral home, religious place of worship, a family home, or another location that can accommodate all those who attended the service. Food and drink are often provided, sometimes by the family and sometimes by the community.

To learn about how to plan a post-service reception, see our article Pre-Planning a Reception.

Personalize your memorial service

Pre-planning a memorial service offers you an opportunity to plan elements of the service to your liking that you otherwise might not have been able to plan. For example, you may decide that you want those attending your memorial service to wear the colors of your favorite football team. You may write a speech that you have someone deliver on your behalf at the service. You may decide that you want everyone to sing your favorite song, or you want the reception to be a barbeque. There are many ways to personalize the service. Talk to your family about the features you’d like to incorporate.

To learn about other types of services you can have, see our article Pre-Planning a Funeral Service, Graveside Service, or Memorial Service.

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