12 Beach Memorial Service Ideas, Readings & Tips


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When you picture a memorial service, you may imagine a crowd of people gathered together in a stuffy funeral home or a formal church room. But end-of-life ceremonies are changing. 

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Now, more and more people are planning custom end-of-life services that honor the deceased in a personal way. Part of this entails taking memorial services outside of the usual settings and bringing them to a location that meant a lot to the deceased. If you’re planning a memorial service for a loved one, the beach could be one place your loved one might feel a personal connection.

You can have the service on an actual beach or transform your own yard into a beach-inspired scene. Here are some ideas for a beach-themed memorial service.

COVID-19 tip: If you're planning a Zoom memorial service using a service like GatheringUs, the order of service, etiquette, and timing will vary. Consult with your funeral director or event planner to see what accommodations they make so online guests can enjoy the decor, activities, and other ideas listed below.

Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.

Beach Memorial Service Decoration and Invitation Ideas

Beach Memorial Service Decoration and Invitation Ideas

The great thing about a beach memorial service is that decorations aren’t necessarily required. The beauty of nature already provides a fairly idyllic backdrop.

Still, there are some elements you can bring in to make a beach-themed memorial service feel even more individualized. You can also customize invitations in a special way. Read on for more ideas.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

1. Beach-themed floral arrangements

Flowers tend to be a feature at almost every funeral and memorial service. You can include them in a beach-themed memorial service to keep those ties to tradition. Many florists can work with you to create something special.

Or if you’re the creative type, check out Pinterest for inspiration. There are flower arrangements in giant conch shells or bouquets with starfish and sand dollars woven in. You can even include life preservers in an arrangement if you want to be quirky and ironic. Let your imagination run wild and create something special.

2. Memorial sunset cruise

If your loved one really enjoyed going out on boats, a memorial cruise is a sweet way to give your loved one a nice sendoff. Invite mourners to come for a brief cruise at sunset and hold the memorial service on board.

Many boats offer options to serve food and drinks. You can still incorporate traditional elements like funeral readings and eulogies. You may even be able to incorporate scattering ashes into this experience, depending on your locale.   

3. Tiki torches

Are you having a sunset beach service? It’s important to include lighting for after the sun goes down. Tiki torches are easy to bring to the beach and stick in the sand. You can even line a pathway for mourners to find their way back to their cars after the service ends. 

4. Beach-themed invitations

There are so many ways you can incorporate the beach (or a more general water theme) into memorial service invitations. Colors like blue, teal, and tan set the appropriate mood as they mimic the sand and water.

You can use a photo of the beach or the ocean as a backdrop or do a more abstract graphic background. Invitations can also feature a photo of the deceased. If you have a nice photo of your loved one on the beach or a boat, that’s a thoughtful personal touch. It underscores the reason you’ve chosen a beach theme.  

Beach Memorial Service Reading Ideas

Even if you’re transplanting your memorial service to a new location, you can preserve other traditional funeral elements. For instance, you can still have someone deliver a eulogy and ask friends and loved ones to deliver funeral readings. Here are some readings ideal for a beach memorial service.

Tip: These memorial service readings can also be used in many other ways, such as on an online memorial page. Online memorial pages provide a place for you and your family and friends to honor the departed. You can even use them to raise money to cover funeral expenses or to donate to a charity of your choice.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

5. “Footprints in the Sand” Poem

This allegorical religious poem is one of the most well-known funeral readings. The poem describes a person who dies and looks back on his or her life to see two pairs of footprints in the sand. At the difficult times in life, one set of footprints vanishes.

God explains that during those times, he carries the person on his back. This is the perfect beach-themed funeral reading for a religious person. 

6. “I Am Standing Upon the Seashore” Poem

This poem was written by Henry Van Dyke but it’s often misattributed to Victor Hugo. It’s a lovely and uplifting piece that alludes to an afterlife in a less overtly Christian way than “Footprints in the Sand.”

The poem’s narrator watches a ship sail away into the horizon. Even as it disappears from sight, he knows other people are welcoming it as they sail in. It’s a sweet and inspirational reading for a less traditional service.  

7. “Not Gone” by Rumi

This poem is so short, we’re including it in its entirety:

Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets
The moon sets
But they are not gone. 

Just a few lines pack a big punch. This reading is a quick addition to a scenario if you want to have multiple people doing readings. 

8. “Island in the Sun” by Weezer

Because a beach memorial is less traditional, it’s okay if your readings are a little outside of the box, too. Instead of doing a reading, get a musically-inclined friend to perform this alternative rock ditty. It’s a sweet and soothing tribute. 

Beach Memorial Service Favors and Food Ideas

Beach Memorial Service Favors and Food Ideas

Not every funeral or memorial service serves food. A lot of less-traditional services offer some form of repast. Ceremonies like a beach-themed memorial service tend to be a little more casual and focus more on creating a sense of community.

Food is a great way to bond people and bring them together. Here, we explore some food options for a beach memorial service. We also talk about some favors you can hand out to guests as well.   

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

9. Seafood boil

Many beachfront areas have local cuisine that features fresh seafood. A seafood boil is a great example of this. A seafood boil is actually a fairly general term that refers to a social event that features some kind of seafood as the main course. Despite the name, this dish isn’t necessarily boiled. It can be steamed, baked, or even served raw. The types of seafood involved and the spices and other components will vary from region to region.

For instance, in Louisiana, crawfish boils are particularly popular. In Maryland, crab boils with Old Bay seasoning are a perennial favorite (though they’re referred to as crab feasts). In New England, you can expect to be welcomed to a clambake. If your deceased loved one really enjoyed a regional seafood boil, this is a great meal to serve at a laid back beach memorial.  

10. Go to a seafood restaurant

Not everyone wants to put effort into preparing a big feast. Planning a memorials service — even a lighthearted one — is emotionally draining. Take the pressure off yourself and reserve a private dining room at a seafood restaurant. Bonus points if the restaurant itself is located on the beachfront.

You can work with the restaurant to set up a seafood buffet or set a small fixed-price menu to keep your budget under control. You can get delicious food and all the beachfront ambiance you could want with very little effort.    

11. Personalized bubbles

Many companies make customized tubes of bubbles for special events. You can get some for a beach memorial service. Have the name of the deceased printed on the tube and birth and death dates.

You can even have images of little seashells included. Have mourners blow bubbles for a sweet and silly sendoff. They can take them home for a lasting funeral favor.  

12. Seashell candles

One lovely thing people often do at memorial services is light a candle. You can get little candles shaped like seashells or starfish for mourners to light. Get extras made so you can send them home as simple funeral favors. 

Life’s a Beach: Planning a Beachfront Memorial Service

Themed funerals are a great way to honor a loved one who has passed away. A beachfront memorial service is a sweet way to honor your loved one’s member has a soft spot for the beach.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional funerals and memorial services. Sometimes doing something special and unique is a great way to pay tribute to your loved one. 

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