Unique funeral ideas for flowers, special programs, sentimental music, and other ideas to personalize ceremonies have become more mainstream than in the past. While there is still funeral etiquette to consider, the strict rules of what to wear and how to mourn have evolved to allow people to personalize services as much or as little as they’d like.
This post is meant to share a few ideas to personalize a funeral based on your family’s personal preferences, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. Part of what we do with clients is planning the perfect-for-you memorial service, whether that’s a funeral, a wake, or something totally unique. Always feel free to reach out if you want to discuss ideas or talk about ways to celebrate the life of your loved one.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Flowers
Flowers have long been an integral part of funeral and memorial services. But ordering a florist-designed spray or arrangement isn’t the only way to incorporate flowers into a funeral ceremony.
One way you can use flowers is by providing single stems for attendees to place at or in the casket, either during a wake or at the burial plot. You could choose flowers that were special to the deceased, like a favorite flower or different varieties of blooms in a single color.
This can be an especially meaningful offering if each attendee, adults and children alike, are allowed to place a flower with the casket.
Another unique funeral idea for flowers is to ask all attendees to bring a flower of their choice to the service. Ask them to either place it in a vase at the entrance of the funeral home or church. Alternatively, they can leave the flower in or on the casket during visitation or the wake.
Asking everyone to choose a flower they’d like to bring can be a unique way to express grief in both a personal and collective way.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Clothing
Another unique funeral idea is to encourage all attendees to dress in the deceased’s favorite color rather than in black. It’s true that funerals are somber events and that the predominant emotion is sadness. This has traditionally been the reason why people wear black; wearing a bright or light color might be seen as celebratory. And that might be seen as disrespectful.
But if your loved one loved a certain color, it can be respectful and joyful if everyone gathered is dressed in that color.
Even if someone insists on wearing black or more somber colors, you can encourage them to add a touch of the requested color to their outfit. Perhaps they might wear a scarf or carry a handbag in the loved one’s favorite color. Even something as understated as a brooch or colorful pair of earrings can make a funeral unique.
Unique Funeral Ideas to Celebrate Hobbies
So many of us have hobbies that make our lives richer and more interesting. There’s no reason why you cannot incorporate the hobbies or passions of your loved one into their funeral program.
If, for instance, your loved one loved football, you could encourage everyone to wear that team’s jersey to the service. Not a big fan of jerseys? Socks might be an option. So are scarves, watches, or earrings.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Book Lovers
Maybe your loved one was more of a reader than a football fan. If that’s the case, you might consider asking attendees to bring an excerpt from a favorite book or a short poem they can share. It’s not necessary for everyone to speak at the service; you could collect the offerings and turn them into a keepsake book.
Sharing it with everyone once it’s organized and printed (digitally or on paper) can be a wonderful way to stay in touch after the services are over.
You can also highlight your loved one’s favorite words during the service. Ask the officiant to read a particular prayer or Bible passage, if the deceased had one. Or opt for a poem or even song lyrics. What matters most is that it was important to your loved one, and will help celebrate them and the impact they had on you and your community.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Gifts
It might seem different to give a gift to attendees at a funeral, but it’s a lovely option to consider. It could be something as simple as a favorite passage or quote printed on cardstock. It could also be a pin or a bracelet or another simple piece of jewelry.
Or, you could reverse the flower suggestions we made above. Instead of having attendees bring flowers for the service, have each person pick one from a large bouquet or arrangement on their way home.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Food
Another creative funeral idea that extends to the meal that often occurs after the burial service is to serve your loved one’s favorite foods instead of standard buffet fare. If they loved BBQ brisket, for example, opt for catering from their favorite BBQ joint. You might even share a one of their recipes with those joining you for the meal.
If it’s a smaller service, you might consider actually making one of their specialities to share with other mourners. A favorite muffin or coffee cake recipe, for instance.
Or, you could just set out bowls of their favorite candies at the funeral home and encourage everyone in attendance to enjoy something sweet.
Unique Funeral Ideas for Music
There are songs we all associate with funerals and memorial services, and with good reason. They are played often because they are appropriate for the circumstance and they express the emotions we’re feeling.
But a cool and memorable funeral idea is to personalize the music that’s played during different parts of the memorial services. If your loved one loved Patsy Cline or AC/DC or Brad Paisley, you can play those songs as a way to celebrate your loved one’s life.
This isn’t to say that you have to only play contemporary music if you choose to personalize the service in this way. You might want to keep church services more traditional (if you have a church service) but play your loved one’s favorite songs at the funeral lunch, for instance. Or choose instrumental versions of a favorite song to play as people are arriving at church as a way to honor your loved one and the music they loved.
A Few General Thoughts
Remember that celebrating your loved one in a unique way isn’t about what you spend. If budget is a concern, opt for DYI and sentimental ideas or ask those who plan to attend to bring something (like a flower or favorite poem).
Personalizing a funeral shouldn’t add extra stress to an already trying time. We offer these suggestions as a way to help you personalize a service as much or as little as you want. There is no right or wrong answer, there’s only what feels right for you and your family.