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Memorial Service Checklist

In an effort to better serve our client families, we have developed this convenient checklist to guide you through the process of coordinating and directing your own ceremony or memorial service. While this list may not address every situation, it does serve to provide general guidelines that you can customize as you see fit.

By following the list, you can ensure that you have tended to many of the important items that must be taken care of before the service takes place. If you have specific situations or special considerations that are not covered here, and you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our office and speak with one of our family counselors. We are always available to answer your questions and assist you in coordinating your services.

We also offer a printer friendly version of the checklist. Just click here for more information and the download link.

Some items on this list are optional and are designated as such.

For The Church Service

  • Choose the location and time for the ceremony and place your reservations
  • If the service is to take place in a church, make sure you are familiar with the specific customs and funeral rites of the religion and the specific church as it pertains to cremated remains and the ceremony
  • Identify the clergy, celebrant, or person you would like to officiate the service, contact them with the time, date, and place of the service
  • Consider the type and tone of service that you want (e.g. religious, spiritual, life celebration, humanistic)
  • Choose the elements that you want to include in the service (music, sermon, prayers, scripture readings, eulogy, sharing memories, video, and so forth)
  • Decide on the order you want the service to follow (when songs are played, speakers, prayers read) as well as the timing of the service
  • Ask individuals to participate in the service to do readings, give the eulogy, sing, and share memories or thoughts to remember the deceased (Optional)
  • Select music, songs to be sung, and if they will be live or taped, to be used during the service. Also decide on the order and timing of when they will be played (Optional)
  • Decide on floral arrangements, pictures, and mementos to be displayed during the service. (Optional)
  • Purchase a memorial guest book, pen, cards, and other items for your service. (Our [Memorial Record Package] includes everything you need)
  • Prepare any video and/or audio that will be used during the service and designate someone to operate the equipment during the service (the church or facility may provide this – check first)
  • Ensure floral tributes are delivered and displayed at the church or facility at least thirty minutes prior to guests arriving
  • Determine where the urn containing the cremated remains will be displayed during the service. If the facility does not provide transport, designate someone to deliver the urn and urn display table to the facility at least thirty minutes before the service is scheduled to begin.
  • Verify with the church or facility that there are adequate stands and tables to display the floral arrangements and mementos and determine where they can be displayed
  • Assign someone to be in charge of removing the flowers from the church or facility after the ceremony has concluded and deliver them to the family residence, cemetery, or designated donation site
  • Meet with the clergy or officiant as well as musicians prior to the service to review the order of service. Make sure they are aware of anyone else who will be speaking or doing readings.
  • Place the memorial register book, memorial cards, donation tray and any other materials at the entry point of facility and designate a person to direct attendees to sign the book as they enter
  • Coordinate how family will process and recess at the beginning and end of service
  • Reserve adequate seating for immediate family members and any special guests
  • Designate usher(s) (one for small gatherings, several for larger ones) to be available to seat guests and answer questions (e.g. location of rest rooms, children’s room, directions to cemetery)
  • Have someone make appropriate announcements at the beginning and conclusion of services (e.g. requesting everyone to turn off cell phone, inviting congregation to attend luncheon/gathering after ceremony)
  • Make sure that all checks and honorariums are written out and distributed to the appropriate people well in advance of the service (clergy, musicians, church sextons)

For The Cemetery Committal Service

  • Contact the cemetery at least two days in advance of the service to schedule the burial
  • Pay the cemetery fee for the grave opening and closing. Ask if there are any other requirements such as an urn vault, a weekend fee, or a fee for the use of the cemetery chapel
  • Choose the location on the cemetery grounds for the committal, such as graveside or the cemetery chapel
  • If the deceased was a veteran, schedule military honors (bring a flag)
  • Designate someone to bring the urn to the gravesite or cemetery chapel along with the flowers and any other items to be used (portable sound system for music or clergy)
  • Make sure that the flowers have been delivered to the gravesite or chapel and are professionally displayed
  • Designate a person to make any necessary announcements such as a luncheon following
  • Make arrangements for any special events such as balloon or butterfly releases, bagpiper or other personalized tribute
  • Check with cemetery for requirements regarding a marker or monument
  • Make arrangements for the marker or monument to be lettered. If no marker is supplied, purchase the monument

For the Reception:

  • Reserve any facilities to be used
  • Choose and book a caterer or designate who will be preparing food
  • Notify all invitees of the reception time, date, dress code and expectations
  • Organize any performances/readings

Services at Other Venues

(Restaurants, Country Clubs, Public Parks or Private Residences)

  • Coordinate with the venue as to who will accept and display flowers delivered or brought by the family; ensure there are pedestals/stands for displaying the arrangements
  • Bring easels for displaying photos or other personal items
  • Check live streaming of the service is available from the venue
  • Inquire if the venue has accessible wifi, and monitors for displaying video or slideshows and an audio system with microphone for speeches/readings
  • Ask the venue about capabilities for playing music

Scattering Ashes

Scattering of Ashes

Although a memorial does not have to include the scattering of ashes, some families choose to include this as part of their memorial service. If that is the case, you will need to decide where this will be done and invite anyone with whom you wish to share this deeply personal experience. If you’re doing this on your own, please feel free to contact us to learn where you can legally scatter cremated remains.

Someone close to you died. What now?

Use our checklist to learn what to do in the days and weeks after a loss.

Survivor's Checklist