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Phone: 613-389-7223
Fax: 613-384-6300

Memorial Service Checklist

Planning a memorial service or remembrance ceremony in tribute to a loved one isn't difficult. It's a labor of love, and as such, everything you do in memorial service planning can bring you great satisfaction and even joy.

If you'd like to learn what's involved in planning a meaningful service, you've come to the right place. Our experienced funeral professionals have created this memorial service checklist for you and your family to use during the memorial service planning process. (You also have the option of downloading a PDF of the checklist to provide everyone with a copy. This allows you to assign responsibilities and monitor the memorial service planning process.)

  • Pick an appropriate location to hold the service. You will need to know how many people will be invited so that the location is suitable (i.e. comfortable) for the number of individuals.
  • Choose a date and time for the memorial service or remembrance ceremony. You may need to reach out to other family members or friends to confer about scheduling. If necessary, reserve your venue. You will also want to decide if the event should be open-ended or timed (guests are told the service will end at a specific time).
  • Should the memorial service be a themed event? Did your loved one have a specific interest, an affinity to a special place (or time in history), or hobby? If their cultural identity was important to them, you may wish to highlight that with culturally-derived decorations and food. Remember, in planning a truly personal remembrance service, you're paying tribute to their essential uniqueness so take ample time to reflect on those traits and characteristics which made them special.
  • Will you need extra chairs, portable toilets, or special lighting? If so, it's time to reserve those necessities as well.
  • Develop a guest list and purchase (or create) suitable invitations. If you've decided on a theme for your loved one's memorial service, you'll want your invitations to reflect the nature of the theme. Here's a tip: keep the invitations simple in presentation and wording. You may want to include a photo of your loved one in addition to the specifics of service time and place. Also, provide invitees with a way to confirm their intention to attend by email or phone, and be sure to mail the invitation in plenty of time for them to respond.
  • Select someone to lead the memorial event. It could be a member of the family, a celebrant, or a member of the clergy. Whoever you choose should be willing to play some part in the memorial service planning process so they are aware of their specific responsibilities.
  • Discuss with family members about the particulars of the memorial service: the musical selections, the scriptural passages (or those from literature), and any desired group activities. For a list of creative memorial service ideas to pay tribute to your loved one, we invite you to read our webpage "After Cremation".
  • Should there be a eulogy? If you believe this to be an important part of the tribute to your loved one, you'll need to select someone to write and deliver the eulogy. For more insight, read "How to Write a Eulogy".
  • You might also want to ask certain family members or friends to share their stories and memories with the group. If so, decide exactly how much time you want to allocate for sharing then make a list of those individuals to ask, according each of them approximately 3-5 minutes for their presentation. Once someone accepts your invitation, make sure they have ample time to prepare.
  • Start preparing a timeline for the memorial service event. This involves drawing up a schedule and placing each component (readings, eulogy, shared activities) in the proper slot.
  • Assign any related tasks (shopping for decorations, flowers, candles and food) to those family members and friends involved in the planning process. (You can use our downloadable Memorial Service Checklist to keep track of tasks assigned.)
  • Select the clothes you'll wear. Make any necessary salon appointments (for haircuts or other services).
  • Prior to the event, bring everyone involved together to determine any last minute issues that need to be resolved. Also, this is the time to finalize the memorial service timeline you prepared earlier. Be sure to reach out to those people who committed to speaking or otherwise performing at the event to make sure they are able to follow-through with their intentions.
  • A few days before the event, touch base with everyone involved in the planning process. Go over the confirmed guest list, make sure any food or refreshments, decorations, and flowers have been ordered, purchased, and delivered to the right location.
  • In the remaining time before the service, be sure to take the time to rest. Remember that all you've done in planning this tribute to your loved one is bound to bring up strong emotions; allow yourself adequate time and attention to deal with them rationally.

As we said at the beginning of our online memorial service checklist, planning a remembrance ceremony or memorial service for your loved one isn't difficult. It simply takes time, teamwork, and focused attention. If you would like to speak with us about the planning process in greater detail, please call us at 613-389-7223.