While most funerals or memorial services take place in a funeral home, church, or religious building, there are no rules that this has to be the case. There are so many ways to honor someone’s life when planning a memorial service.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Traditional Memorial Service Venues
- Unique Memorial Service Venues
- Inexpensive or Free Memorial Service Venues
- Things to Consider When Choosing the Service Venue
For some, choosing a unique or inexpensive place outside of a funeral home is a better fit. This service is often a final sendoff. It’s the last chance to say goodbye to a loved one who has passed on, and it can be a highly personal and sentimental occasion.
Choosing a unique or inexpensive location honors this individual’s memory while ensuring the family is comfortable. With more people looking to create a unique occasion for themselves or a loved one, here are 15 unique or inexpensive places perfect for holding a memorial service. In today’s world, funeral venues come in all shapes and sizes.
Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, making decisions about their memorial and 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.
Traditional Memorial Service Venues
If you’d like to choose something that’s a bit more traditional, look at the options below. While these memorial service ideas are a bit more common, they’re still low-cost and very personal.
Many people host a graveside service after a traditional funeral, but you don’t actually need to have both if you don’t want to. Hosting a graveside service is a way to say final goodbyes at the final resting place.
This is a traditional, formal option that eliminates the need to coordinate a longer event. It’s also less expensive than hosting multiple services.
2. Church or religious garden
While most people choose to host their service within a church or religious place of worship, you could also take this event outside.
Most churches, temples, and so on have their own gardens or green spaces. This is a more natural, casual alternative that still incorporates religious elements.
3. Local garden or conservatory
A local botanical garden or nature conservatory can also make the perfect memorial for someone who loved nature. If it’s too cold for an outdoor garden, a conservatory ensures everyone is warm inside while still in a green space. Better yet, admission is usually free or low-cost.
If someone you loved was a fan of art, history, or science, a museum is a powerful way to honor this passion. Museums usually have some type of event space, whether it’s a private hall or meeting room.
These are less expensive than traditional venues, and they’re still just as meaningful. Your guest can tour the exhibit before or after the service to honor someone’s memory.
Food is a big part of most people’s lives, so a restaurant makes the perfect funeral alternative. Hosting an informal get-together or service at someone’s favorite eatery lets everyone enjoy a meal together in honor of someone special.
Unique Memorial Service Venues
If you’re wondering how to plan a memorial service that stands out, consider the unique venues below. It’s all about creating something that honor’s someone’s unique interests and passions.
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Similar to hosting your service in nature, why not rent a boat? If you know someone who already has a boat, that’s an even better way to keep costs low. Either way, renting or chartering a boat for a large group is a relatively affordable way to host an event.
You can take a sunset cruise, sightsee by water, or just enjoy an afternoon away from the hustle of life. This can also be combined with an ash scattering ceremony.
7. Brewery or winery
Toast and cheers to the deceased by hosting your event at a bar or cocktail lounge. Whether they frequented the establishment or they simply appreciated a strong glass of wine, this is the perfect sendoff for someone who always loved celebrating.
A fun way to say goodbye to someone who loved animals is by holding the service at the zoo. Zoos have meeting rooms and rental space available, and you can easily plan a fun, animal-themed day out. Schedule a tour of the zoo with a zookeeper for a learning experience everyone will enjoy.
9. Theme park
Similar to enjoying a day out at the zoo, a theme park is another action-packed way to say goodbye. For a loved one who always saw the magic in theme parks, plan a family and friend outing at a local theme park.
Though more expensive than some of the other options, this is an opportunity to relieve the deceased’s favorite memories. Ride their favorite attractions, enjoy theme park foods, and bask in the nostalgia.
10. Historical building or mansion
While this might be one of the more costly options on this list, it’s also a unique way to honor someone’s life. Most towns have historic buildings and mansions that make beautiful event spaces, and this is a classy way to honor someone whose legacy is larger-than-life.
Inexpensive or Free Memorial Service Venues
If you’re trying to host a funeral or memorial service on a budget, there are so many ways to do just that. It’s not about how much you spend. It’s about how this time is put to use to say goodbye to your loved one.
11. Family home
The first pick is the least expensive and the easiest. If you’re having a smaller, intimate funeral or memorial service, there’s no reason you can’t hold it right at your home.
Not only is this a more comfortable space, but it doesn’t have any of the rigid formalities of a funeral home or church.
12. School or university
Honor someone’s life at their alma mater. For those with deep emotional ties to their school, revisiting this place of learning is a great way to revisit these memories.
Schools and colleges have a lot of space that can work perfectly for services like classrooms, theaters, chapels, and gyms. If your loved one attended this school, you might be able to secure a discount on event space as well.
13. Local, national, or state park
Another traditional choice is to hold the funeral or memorial service in a park. Hosting it in the outdoors surrounded by nature is a powerful tribute not only to someone who loved being outside but also to life itself.
You could hold a picnic, go on a family hike, or even just reflect in beautiful surroundings. As long as you’re not hosting a large group, you shouldn’t need to pay any special fees to hold your service at a park.
14. Sports field
If your loved one always loved playing a particular sport, honor his or her life in that sports field. Organize a game in their honor, whether you play golf, basketball, or soccer. While you might not be any good at it, the magic is really in the game itself.
15. Visit favorite places
Last but not least, make a whole day of the service by visiting local spots that were your loved one’s favorites. Invite friends and family to join you as you visit anywhere they would have found significant.
From local roadside attractions to your favorite park, these are the memories that truly create someone’s legacy. If possible, make a whole trip of it. Take photos in these spots, share stories, and surround yourself with those you love and support.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Service Venue
Whenever you’re planning a service or memorial, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. It’s important to note that there are no requirements or rules to follow, as long as you’re mindful of local guidelines.
It’s a misconception that funerals and memorials have to be at a funeral home or place of worship. In reality, the family has total freedom over this planning process. Still, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:
- Budget: First and foremost, how much can you afford to spend? Could friends and family chip in to help cover the costs?
- Event rules: Some places have limitations on the types of events that can be held there. While they might not allow a full-blown funeral service, many places are open to less formal celebrations of life.
- Reservations: Try your best to make reservations in advance, if possible. While most events are planned months prior, memorials are usually last-minute. Giving the venue (like a restaurant) a heads-up is a must.
- Planning: No matter how casual the event is, do a bit of planning to make sure you know what to expect. Have a short eulogy reading, prayer, or final words planned to set the tone for the event.
- Invites: When inviting guests, make sure they know this is a formal, informal, or unique gathering. Also, let them know how they should dress.
- Memories: This is a day for honoring someone’s memories and creating new ones. Consider what the individual would have wanted from their memorial and use that as your guide.
Honor Someone with a Unique Memorial
There are so many unique places to hold a memorial service. From inexpensive at-home options to the truly out-of-the-box, don’t limit yourself when it comes to honoring the ones you love. A memorial service is an opportunity for final reflections and closure. This takes many forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all choice.
If you’re planning a memorial service, consider one of the ideas above. There’s something to fit everyone’s interests and budget. No matter how you choose to celebrate someone’s life, you’re sure to come closer as a family.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the memorial to think about. 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.