Planning an Outdoor Memorial Service
Traditionally, funerals are planned as both indoor and outdoor events. The visitation, memorial service, and more formal aspects of the funeral are held indoors in the funeral home or church, where seating is plentiful and weather conditions won’t impact the event. Afterward, the family and invited guests hold a graveside service outside, where the deceased is laid to rest at the cemetery.
While this routine is still very popular, there is no rule that says you have to hold the memorial service indoors. In fact, when a loved one has been cremated, or if you are planning to hold a service at a future date, it is easy to hold an outdoor funeral. This is especially ideal when the deceased loved the outdoors or had a favorite location near a lake, park, beach, or forest.
- Choose the Perfect Location: The location you choose depends on a number of factors. Will you be scattering ashes? Then you will need to pick a place that not only allows gatherings of friends and family, but that has also given you permission to dispose of human remains. Is there a favorite location of the deceased’s that you want to honor? Reserve your space ahead of time to ensure you’ll have the privacy you need.
- Choose the Perfect Season: There is no reason why you have to hold a memorial service immediately after the death of a loved one unless you intend to preside over the body. Many families choose to delay the memorial service to a time when everyone in the family can be in attendance or to a more ideal season. Springtime, for example, is a time of growth and rebirth, and can often bring great comfort to those in mourning. Or maybe the deceased’s favorite season was fall, you may wish to hold the memorial then.
- Take Advantage of Nature: One of the biggest benefits of an outdoor memorial service is that you do not necessarily have to splurge on funeral flowers and other decorations—nature will step in and provide that for you. This is especially helpful if you are hoping to keep the funeral as green as possible.
- Doves, Balloons, Fireworks, Oh My!: There are a number of ways to personalize a memorial service in an outdoor setting. You can release doves, balloons, or floating lanterns. You can have the cremated remains of your loved one turned into fireworks and shoot them into the night sky. Have everyone write a goodbye message on a rock and stack them somewhere meaningful, or give everyone a packet of seeds to plant in their yard. The outdoor environment allows for a huge scope for imagination.
Of course, just as you cannot control life and death, you can’t control the weather either. Plan the outdoor memorial service for a time of year when there is the best chance of sunny skies and light winds—and always have a backup plan, just in case.