Unique Memorial Service Ideas

Updated January 21, 2020
Beach illuminated at sunset by candle

Whether you want to have a traditional memorial service, or something more unique, there are plenty of beautiful ways to honor your loved one. When selecting a memorial service idea, be sure to select a few options, come up with an appropriate budget, and select the idea that best represents your loved one.

Memorial Service Ideas for Your Loved One

A memorial service may offer friends and family members of the deceased a way to celebrate the life of their loved one and at times gain some closure. Marking when someone passes away can allow your minds and bodies to better work through the grieving process. This doesn't make the emotional ups and downs of grief any easier, but it can open up doors for healthy emotional processing.

Making the Traditional Memorial Service More Unique

If you are hoping to plan a memorial service that doesn't include traditional aspects, there are several ways you can go about working some more eclectic details into the mix. Consider your loved one's personality and what they would have enjoyed. Would they find a memorial service filled with laughs, jokes, and lightheartedness ideal, or would they have preferred a more simple twist on the traditional service? You can update a traditional memorial service by:

  • Having a themed service that represents your loved one. If your loved one was known for always wearing a certain type of outfit or pattern, you can request that guests, or those planning to speak, wear similar looks. This can make the service feel extra special and sweet. It may even add a smile to some faces if your loved one was known for wearing funky or interesting patterns or colors, sports jerseys, or certain hats and accessories.
  • Instead of opting for a more traditional image in the program or up on stage, you can select a funny or silly picture of your loved one. If they had a great sense of humor, this may be an appropriate choice that really reflects their joyous personality.
  • Print programs that note a favorite anecdote of the deceased loved one. This can be a quote, story, or circumstance that truly captures their essence. It doesn't have to be serious or touching necessarily, just reflective of who they were.

Memorial Service Locations

Selecting a location for a memorial service may feel overwhelming. If you think a non-traditional location would better reflect your loved one, there are plenty of choices to choose from.

Park pavilion
  • Museums may offer rental spaces in certain areas or property locations. Many museum properties have beautiful rooms, as well as outdoor gardens, where a service may be allowed. If your loved one was a museum buff, this may be a nice place to remember just how special they were and are.
  • Libraries, like museums, may offer rental spaces. If your loved one enjoyed reading and frequented a certain library often, this may be a meaningful option for a service.
  • Parks often allow spaces to be rented out. Be sure to ask whether chairs can be brought in, or if you're planning on doing something more informal, note how many people they will allow in a given space. You can use picnic blankets and pillows to set a more casual tone.
  • Boats or ships can be a great option if your loved one had a love for being out on the water. Many boats can be chartered, or maybe you know someone who will allow you to borrow theirs for the memorial.
  • A camping weekend is a great idea for a small, intimate memorial. If your loved one liked camping or being out in nature, holding a memorial weekend where you all can remember cherished memories can be a really special way to honor your loved one.

Keep in mind that you may need to contact several locations before you find the best option for the memorial service. If you plan to scatter ashes, you will need to check regarding the location's regulations before doing so.

Customizing the Music and Reading Selection

Music and reading selections can be customized to better mirror your loved one's personality, which can make the memorial service feel more unique.

  • Pick your loved one's favorite music to play, even if it's considered non-traditional. This can include upbeat tunes that more suited for a dance party, but if you know your loved one would have loved this style, there are no rules saying you can't go for it.
  • Music can also include any favorite songs, or jingles your loved one enjoyed singing.
  • Readings often have a religious undertone, so if that isn't your style, or what your loved one would have wanted, pick something that works better. This can include favorite poems, childhood stories, favorite sayings or quotes, and treasured childhood poems.
  • You can also consider collecting a few thoughts from loved ones about the deceased individual and incorporating these quotes in a reading or speech.

Memorial Service Activities

If you prefer to throw an event where guests can participate in an activity, there are plenty of ways to process your emotions, honor your loved one, and share a special memory with everyone who loved the person who passed away.

Offroad vehicles using projector onto rockface
  • Silly home movies can be watched in a more intimate, smaller memorial service, or projected at a larger venue. Home movies have a sentimental way of connecting the viewers to the deceased and reminding everyone just how wonderful they were.
  • Painting, pottery, or sketching can be done in a private class setting and can be an interesting way to honor your loved one if they were super artistic or creative. Just be sure to let the instructor know that you will be having a memorial before or after the class to honor your loved one. Keep in mind, some studios will be open to this event, while others may not allow it, so give yourself some time to plan. You can also put on an event at someone's residence if you prefer and set up art supplies there.
  • Letter writing is a sweet way to connect to the memory of your loved one and can be done at small or large memorials. At larger memorials, you can ask guests to bring pre-written letters and either share them with the family, or place them in the casket.
  • If your loved one was passionate about watching or playing sports, you can try to incorporate sports into the memorial. For example, if they enjoyed baseball, you can honor their memory on or near a baseball field. You may also be able to find a place to scatter their ashes if they were cremated near or on a sporting venue. Just be sure to verify the legalities of doing so beforehand with the event coordinator. Some families may even honor their loved one by sharing stories about them while playing their favorite sport.

Casual and Cost Effective Memorial Service Ideas

Memorials don't have to be expensive to be incredible. If you'd prefer to do something more intimate and casual, there are plenty of memorial ideas that you can choose from.

  • A pot luck evening with the deceased individual's loved ones can be an incredible way to honor them. Have attendees bring your loved one's favorite dishes and spend the night sharing memories and sweet sentiments.
  • Have a movie night equipped with your loved one's favorite treats and enjoy watching their favorite movie while you share memories about them.
  • Cooking night can be a nice event to do with just a few of your loved one's closest friends and family members. Cook their favorite foods and try to recreate some of their famous recipes while swapping cherished memories.

Planning a Loving Memorial Service

A memorial service is a special way to honor a loved one who has passed away. Whether you want to stick to a traditional service, add some unique elements, or do something completely non-traditional, there is no right or wrong way to go about holding a memorial service.

Unique Memorial Service Ideas