25 Unique Memorial Service Ideas for 2021

As more and more people choose cremation (due to a lower cost of cremation vs. burial, among many other reasons), there are a number of beautiful new and unique memorial services being performed. Many of these new memorials serve as a true celebration of a person’s life and can vary in style, tone, and content to be as unique as the person being remembered.

Since options for memorial service ideas are virtually limitless, it can almost seem overwhelming to plan a memorial. To help with this process, below we’ve highlighted a number of interesting and unique memorial service ideas for you and your family to consider.

Creative Memorial Service Ideas

Funeral Decor | During the Service | Final Disposition | Group Participation | Keepsakes & Giveaways | Fun Ideas to Consider

memorial service ideas

What Décor to Have at a Memorial Service?

  1. Pictures

memorial photos

Many families prefer to have pictures of their loved one present at the memorial. This can include small handful or even hundreds of photos and memories attached to a board, or a series of boards, placed on stands or tables. This can be a great way for people present at the memorial service to reflect and remember the person who passed and all the good times they had together!

  1. Story Table

story table

Another popular option is to have a table at the memorial service with items, symbols, awards, collectables, etc. that truly represent who the person was and what their interests were. Many families will either place this at the entrance by the guestbook, or front and center in the room.

If they were a military veteran, you could display some of their awards or other personal items from the military. If they loved to travel, put a picture of a plane or some of their favorite destinations. If they were an avid fisherman, why not put their favorite pole on full display!  The opportunities are endless and this can truly be something memorable for everybody present.

  1. Colorful Flowers and Plants

colorful memorial flowers

Did your loved one have a favorite color or type of flower or plant? Flowers and plants come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Traditional flowers seen at a memorial service are mainly white, however, nobody requires you to have white at a service and you can make it as colorful and personal as you wish. You can match the colors with the other color present, include all different colors, or keep it simple with just one or two colors.

  1. Donation in Lieu of Flowers

donate memorial

Many people have flowers sent to the family of the deceased or to their memorial service.  One common idea is to encourage everybody to donate to a special charity or other cause in lieu of sending flowers and on behalf of the person who passed. It can be a cause your loved one was passionate about, or something that you think they would have appreciated. This is an extremely meaningful act that can have a far-reaching impact.

  1. Portrait

memorial portrait

A painting could be a great thing to include at a memorial service. It can be a portrait of your loved one doing what he or she loved, or a portrait of him or her with their family and/or friends. Depending on how much time you have until the service, this could be a great option for the service décor. With a quick internet search you can typically find artists at a variety of price points in your area who could help – just be sure to check their work quality before hiring them!

  1. Memorial Stone

memorial stone

A granite memorial stone can be personalized with your loved one’s information, symbols and even a photo or two. This can be a great thing to  display at a memorial service then taken home and placed at their favorite place in the yard or wherever you think is appropriate.

  1. Engraved Urn

custom urn

Many companies now offer engraving on the urn or the packaging the urn comes in.  For example, the outer bamboo casing on either The Living Urn or the Eco Water Urn can be engraved with your loved one’s name, dates of birth and passing, a sentiment and a symbol. With the Eco Scattering Urn, you can have the engraving done directly on the urn. This can hold your loved one’s ashes and serve as a beautiful centerpiece of a memorial service.

What to Include During a Memorial Service?

  1. Slideshow / Video Montage

memorial video

Enlist a service (or a creative person in the family) to create a memorial slide show or video to play during the service or at the reception.  It can be a challenge to narrow down what photos and/or video clips to use, but as a rule of thumb, 3 to 6 minutes is a good length of time. If you have many more photos you want to show, create a second slide show to play in the background during a reception.

  1. Remembrance Quotes and Sayings

memorial quotes

Quotes can be a powerful way to express yourself and your love for the person who passed. There are many quotes available - below we provide some common ones read at memorial service.

Memorial Service Quote Collections:

Quotes for the Loss of a Parent

Quotes for the Loss of a Grandparent

Quotes for the Loss of a Child

Quotes for the Loss of a Husband or Wife

Quotes for the Loss of a Sibling

Quotes for the Loss of a Friend

General Quotes / Dealing with Grief

Quotes for Finding Hope

Quotes for Preserving Memories

Memorial Poems

  1. Memorial Music

memorial music

Playing music can be a great touch to include in any service. It could be playing in the background as people arrive, used as a transition, or as a time to reflect and remember. There are many songs that are played at traditional funerals, however, many people are now also incorporating some of the favorite music of the person who passed and other music they find important.

  1. Release Doves

release doves at a memorial

Many families are choosing to release white doves as a way to end a memorial service. This can pay tribute to the person who passed, and be uplifting and inspirational for all who attend.

Final Disposition at a Memorial Service

  1. Scatter Ashes

scatter ashes

Many families are including an ash scattering event as part of the memorial service. This can be in your yard at home, off of a favorite hiking trail, in the ocean, at a vacation destination, or any other place you hold special. Many times, friends and family members will take turns scattering and it can provide great meaning to all who attend.

Popular scattering urns, such as Eco Scattering and Eco Water are some of the most common urns people are using for such events.  In addition, some families are using scattering services, such as Ecorial, to help plan and prepare the scattering event. This can be accompanied with family and friends present, or unaccompanied. Another option is to have them live stream the event so family and friends can witness the memorial even though they may not physically be at the event.

  1. Plant a Tree Memorial

plant a tree memorial

The Living Urn has been used by tens of thousands of families to memorialize loved one’s throughout the U.S. and worldwide. You can select from over 50 tree options to find one that’s right for you and your family and incorporate the tree burial with the memorial service. Family and friends can help in the planting process – this involvement can help some feel a sense of closure.

  1. Bury Ashes

bury ashes

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… Many families will choose to include burying their loved one’s ashes as part of the service. You can use a permanent urn and vault or a biodegradable burial urn to encase the ashes during burial.

Group Participation at a Memorial Service

  1. Memorial Stones

memorial stone messages

Set up a station at the memorial event with river rocks and markers - each person present can have the opportunity to write a short message or memory on a stone. The messages on the stones can then be read aloud during the service, or simply placed by a favorite hiking trail or other special place of the person who passed.

  1. Open Mic

open mic memorial

Having an ‘open mic’ and letting friends and family come up and share stories can be a great way to reflect and remember the loved one who passed. Many times, these will include every emotion imaginable – from tears of sadness to a roaring laughter. Make sure that everyone present can hear and get extra speakers if needed.

  1. Construct a Cairn

cairn memorial

A unique service idea is to involve everybody who is present to construct one or more stone memorial cairns. This is a man-made pile of rocks, which was used during ancient times to mark various burial sites.

The cairn can be placed over the plot where a person is buried, at a scattering site, or next to a tree memorial. It can also be placed at a favorite hiking trail, in the yard at home or at another special place of your choosing.

Memorial Service Keepsakes & Giveaways

  1. Favorite Snack

favorite snack at a memorial

Did the person who pass have a favorite snack he or she loved to munch on?  If so, incorporate that into the memorial service.  This could also be a favorite candy or gum, placed around the memorial in bowls. If it was a candy bar, you could give one to each attendee as they leave the service.

  1. Memory Gift Trees

 memory gift trees

Another great idea that is becoming more and more common is to hand out Memory Gift Trees to plant in honor of your loved one. This can be a beautiful gesture in a service and can serve as a great way to say “thank you” to those who attend. Each Memory Gift Tree comes packaged in a bamboo casing with a bamboo bookmark keepsake.  This can be planted in memory of the person who passed and gives family and friends the ability to easily grow their own living memorial.

  1. Photo Buttons

photo button memorial

Buttons with a photo of the person who passed can be given out and worn during the service. This can be a great way to show unity to all those who attend and honor the person with a visible photo. Enlist someone who is crafty to help and, once all the parts are received, this can be done in just a few hours.

Fun Ideas to Consider for a Memorial Service

  1. Fireworks

memorial fireworks

Fireworks are a great way to celebrate a life. They can provide an amazing array of color in the sky and give people the ability to sit back, tune the world out, and reflect. A firework show combined with some music can make the event that much more memorable. If interested in taking it a step further, there are even companies that can incorporate a portion of a loved one’s ashes in a firework – if you choose to do that, make that special firework the grand finale!

  1. Floating Lanterns

floating lanterns memorial

Floating lanterns have been an important part of celebrations across many cultures throughout history. This can present a beautiful display of light and also make for an amazing event that lets the guests quietly reflect on the lost loved one.

  1. Drinks

memorial drinks

If the person who passed had a favorite drink (or drinks), hold a reception after the service and let everybody share stories or memories over a few of their favorites. This can be a great way to reflect and enjoy some additional time among family and friends.

  1. Organize a Potluck

potluck memorial

A great way to offer food at a memorial or reception and also keep costs in check is to have a potluck. People can bring their favorite dish – giving them a sense of contributing and allowing all to share some great food together. People can continue to grieve together and share memories and stories over lunch or dinner.

  1. Social Media

social media memorial

Was the person who passed active on social media? If so, have family and friends who attend do Facebook Live, hashtag their Instagram photos, or post photos and messages from the service directly onto a memorial Facebook page. This is a simple and easy way to give guests the ability to participate and interact with the memory of the person who passed.