Guide to Planning a Celebration of Life

Photo by James Schultz via Unsplash

A celebration of life is a gathering of people who have lost someone close to them. The purpose of a celebration of life is to honor the memory of the person who has died. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s only appropriate for those who have recently lost someone. A celebration of life can take place anywhere. Some people hold a ceremony at home, while some at work or school. These celebrations usually last as long as you want it do (though typically these events last less than two hours). Curious for more details? Let’s have a look at our detailed guide to planning a celebration of life.

What is a Celebration of Life?

A celebration of life is a gathering of family and friends to remember someone who has died. It’s an opportunity for people to share their memories of the person who has died. At the same time, people can celebrate and cherish their favorite moments together. It’s also a chance for everyone who knew the deceased person to come together in one place. It’s common to have some food together, share laughter and to even cry together.

Many families choose to hold celebrations of life after someone dies so that friends can gather around them. The timing is crucial since it takes place when people may feel very alone in their grief. They also want their loved ones’ lives remembered. And more importantly, they want to celebrate the deceased’s memory with all the love that was shared between them.

Who can plan a Celebration of Life?

It’s usually the family who organizes and hosts a celebration of life. However, anyone grieving the loss of a person may be involved in the planning. This includes:

  • The deceased’s spouse or significant other.

  • Children and grandchildren (and their spouses).

  • Parents and grandparents (and their spouses).

  • Brothers and sisters (and their spouses).

  • Cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

  • Close friends and the deceased’s chosen family.

When should you have a Celebration of Life?

You can have a celebration of life at any time. Let’s examine two examples of that:

  • After a death, or before a funeral. This is the most common time to have one. It’s an opportunity to celebrate someone’s life while they’re still in the hearts and minds of their loved ones. It also gives people an opportunity to spend time reminiscing about that person with others who knew them well. A celebration can also be a reunion for family members and friends who aren’t able to see each other often. After all, people traveling from far away have an opportunity to come together with those organizing the celebration of life.

  • After a funeral service or burial ceremony but before the memorial service. This also applies in case there is no memorial service. This allows people who weren’t able to attend either event to pay their respects. That’s especially true for people who were out of town or too far away from home. This also works for those who could not attend either event due to work schedules or other reasons (such as illness). Keep in mind that then the celebration also has an almost re-socializing aspect to it. People finally get back into the habit of attending things again after taking some time off from socializing. After that is very often following an emotional ordeal such as losing someone close.

What to Include in a Celebration of Life

Include a picture of the deceased. This is a very important piece of your program. You can place it in the front or back of the booklet. A traditional portrait is always appropriate. If you want to go for something more unique though, consider using a favorite photo. Or maybe one that you took on their last birthday party, vacation, etc. If there are no photos available then consider an outline sketch. It won’t look like them exactly but it will give people something they can relate to.

Include their name at least once per page. Preferably, that should be three times per page. This is often a sign that they were very special and deserve every opportunity possible! Don’t forget about nicknames too! Official documents almost never include them, so include them here instead. Make sure everyone knows who this person was before moving forward with any other details about them.

How will guests know about the Celebration of Life?

Once you’ve decided to hold a celebration of life service, you’ll want to personally invite family and friends. It’s also important to include a guest book for attendees to write their condolences. You can either create your own creative design or buy one from an online vendor.

When choosing the location, keep in mind that many people will be traveling long distances. Therefore they will want easy access from parking spaces or drop-off points. Make sure there is ample space around the venue for people who are disabled or elderly. If possible, try not to schedule your ceremony during rush hour traffic times so folks can easily get back home afterwards. Alternatively, you should make transportation arrangements for them.

How do you plan for a Celebration of Life luncheon or reception?

The process of planning a celebration of life is an intensely personal one, which means it can take many forms. Maybe you’re thinking about hosting a celebration for someone who has recently passed away. And maybe you aren’t sure what direction to go in. In that case, here are some ideas:

  • You can plan a small luncheon or reception with friends and family members. This is often something done at home, but you can also look into renting out a space. Look then for businesses that specialize in catering these sorts of events (such as restaurants or caterers).

  • You may also want to consider organizing an event that’s open to the public. For example, if there’s a local theater nearby where people could enjoy some entertainment. At the same time they could be supporting your deceased loved one’s favorite cause by purchasing tickets. This can be great if there are any performances involved!

No matter how big or small your event will be, remember that these occasions should feel authentic to each person attending them. Make sure that no one feels pressured into participating (or excluded). This way, they’ll likely have an enjoyable time meeting new people while celebrating their loved ones’ lives.

There's no right or wrong way to organize a celebration of life

There’s no right or wrong way to organize a celebration of life. There is only what fits you and the person who passed away and how you choose to honor them. You can plan it with a few people, or with many people. Alone, or in an organized group. And if it’s right for you to do so, then by all means set up an event on Facebook. Or invite everyone in your address book to join (including those folks who have moved away).

But don’t let anyone else tell you that they know how the deceased would want their funeral plans carried out!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations to make when planning a celebration of life. You’ll need to do research on the type of service, find a space for it, choose flowers and other decorations that feel right for your event. But don’t worry—we have plenty of tips and resources to help you along the way. And remember: You don’t have to do everything yourself! If you want assistance with planning or executing this important event, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We’re here to offer you the best end-of-life guidance. After all, our Funeral Plan includes also celebration of life options. If you ready to experience Myend’s revolutionary services sign up today for free!


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Myend is not a law firm, it does not engage in the practice of law, and it does not render any official legal advice. Therefore, you are hereby advised to seek your own legal counsel regarding any legal issues. Myend’s articles are meant to be taken as suggestions and therefore Myend carries no responsibility for the user’s actions.