You are planning a celebration of life for your loved one because you want this service to focus on your family member’s positive mental attitude, zest for life, or ability to see the best in others. Perhaps you wish to have a celebration of life because you want to allow other attendees the opportunity to share stories and memories. Maybe you want those gathered to feel okay about laughing during the event.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Features Should You Look for in a Celebration of Life Venue?
- What Type of Event Are You Hosting?
- Indoor Celebration of Life Venue Ideas
- Outdoor Celebration of Life Venue Ideas
- Tips for Finding the Best Celebration of Life Venue Near You
Because this is a unique end-of-life service, you may be looking for venue ideas that would be perfect for the situation. So first, let’s discuss what features you should look for in a celebration of life venue, and then we’ll give you indoor and outdoor ideas.
What Features Should You Look for in a Celebration of Life Venue?
Before discussing features you should look for in a celebration of life venue, let’s have a frank discussion of your loved one’s remains. Of course, we don’t intend to be obvious, but you’ll have limited venue options if the casket will be at the event. Likewise, you are also limited if you want to use the occasion to scatter the deceased’s ashes.
If, however, the cremated remains or no remains are to be present at the event, here are additional questions to ask when planning a celebration of life for your loved one.
What Type of Event Are You Hosting?
Some families may label a loved one’s end-of-life event a “celebration of life,” but the service feels like a more upbeat funeral. You may play joyous music and wear colors other than black, but still, people will sit in rows and face the speaker.
However, some celebrations of life look more like a party, where people gather to eat, drink, laugh, and share memories.
What type of event are you considering? Perhaps you wish to have a buffet meal with your loved one’s favorite foods or a tailgate with great BBQ and beer. Once you have determined the type of event, your venue options will be narrowed down.
How many people will be attending?
The tricky part about planning a funeral is that people don’t typically RSVP unless you ask them. Even if you ask, some people seem to make it their life’s mission never to respond. If you put a notice of the event at the end of your loved one’s obituary or share the event details on Facebook, you have no control over how many people that information would reach.
You also need to look at other factors, such as whether the deceased was well known in the area, their age, and the number of people in their immediate and extended family. Additionally, it would be best to consider things out of your control, such as weather or a pandemic.
If you are having a come-and-go event, it may not be necessary to have enough seating for every person attending. However, if you are having a more extended ceremony – regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors – you need to have a chair for most attendees.
Are you providing food and drink?
Some venues allow you to bring in your own food, while others insist you use the in-house caterer. Some venues have specific requirements to serve alcohol.
Was the space special to your loved one?
Maybe you will decide on the venue because the space was special to your loved one. This is a lovely way to celebrate the life of a person you are missing.
Planning any life event can be complicated. However, you may feel an additional burden when planning a celebration of life ceremony. After all, you may feel like the celebration needs to reflect the remarkable life of your loved one.
Indoor Celebration of Life Venue Ideas
Brainstorm with your family members when choosing the most appropriate indoor celebration of life venue. Of course, make sure the deceased didn’t leave behind an end-of-life plan that detailed their wishes.
1. Funeral homes
Don’t overlook the funeral or memorial service venues in your area. Modern funeral homes have learned the importance of accommodating different types of events in order to broaden their appeal. Some even have venues called “celebration of life centers,” naturally lit, beautifully decorated event spaces that feel nothing like a traditional funeral home.
Some modern funeral homes will assist you with catering and providing alcohol to attendees. They may also help you decorate for and plan themed events. In fact, the event planners working for these funeral homes may have great celebration of life party ideas.
2. Event space in your area
If the funeral home in your area doesn’t have the right feel for your ceremony, look at the event venues in your area. Yes, you can celebrate your loved one at a venue traditionally used for weddings. In fact, this might be a perfect option if you plan a catered affair.
3. Restaurants and bars
Some families reserve a restaurant or bar for celebration of life events. The restaurant may offer a buffet or a limited menu, or you may provide appetizers and a few drinks and let the rest of the expense fall to the attendees.
4. Private homes
Of course, don’t overlook your home when planning a celebration of life event. Having the affair in the deceased’s home would, of course, have a special significance as it would allow those attending to be around the person’s possessions.
5. Church or other religious venues
Don’t overlook the obvious. If your loved one’s faith was central to them, consider celebrating their lives at their church. This type of event can be religious.
Outdoor Celebration of Life Venue Ideas
Outdoor celebrations of any type are sometimes complicated to plan if you live in an area with hard-to-predict weather patterns. After all, you always have to have a backup plan for outdoor events in case of precipitation, wind, or high/low temperatures.
However, outdoor events can be particularly lovely and meaningful when you say goodbye to a family member – especially if they were known for loving the outdoors.
It is worth noting that if you plan to scatter your loved one’s cremated remains during such an event, you may need to seek permission.
There are pros and cons of having a celebration of life at a park. While you may be able to rent a shelter, you will have little control over others using the space. Additionally, if you have a service, you might need to bring your own microphone and speaker system and arrange for seating.
7. Sports venues
Was your deceased loved one a super fan of a local sports team? Gather friends and family together and purchase a block of tickets. Wear matching shirts that show you are there to honor your loved one by spending the afternoon at the ballpark.
If you live along the coast, there are a lot of companies that will help you plan scattering ceremonies at sea. The scattering must be done three nautical miles from shore.
9. Farm or private land
Maybe your loved one had ties to rural America. Celebrate their life in a space that was important to your family.
Having the event on private land may also give you the unique opportunity to send your loved one off with a bang. You may consider hiring a company to put a small portion of your loved one’s ashes in fireworks and ending the evening with a fireworks display.
Tips for Finding the Best Celebration of Life Venue Near You
Are you struggling to find an appropriate venue for your loved one’s end-of-life event? Perhaps you are concerned that having an event in a place other than a funeral home or church will somehow breach the etiquette surrounding funerals.
Here are some tips for finding the best venue for your unique situation.
Think about places that made your loved one happy
Did your loved one feel proud to be a teacher or coach? Ask the school district if you can use their facilities as a gathering place for your celebration.
Did your loved one love duck hunting? Schedule an early-morning duck hunt to honor the deceased.
Was your loved one a performer? Gather their friends and schedule a concert in their honor. You may even want to charge admission to the event to raise money for your loved one’s favorite non-profit.
Look at other local obituaries
Finally, if you are unfamiliar with the area, consider seeking the advice of locals or looking at online obituaries. See where others choose to hold celebration of life events.
Consider how to make an event special, no matter the venue
Don’t get so caught up in finding the perfect space that you overlook the obvious. You can celebrate your loved one in any location. So instead of finding the right four walls, concentrate on finding the right officiant. Think about the unique touches you can add to the day that makes it special.
Pre-Plan Your Own End-of-Life Event
Do you have a fantastic idea of how you would like your family members and friends to celebrate your life once you are gone? Put it in writing in a place other than your will. Then, make sure the plan can be easily found upon your death.