A memorial ceremony isn’t about mourning: it’s about celebrating the life of someone we love. It provides closure to surviving family and friends, honors the person who has passed on and reminds everyone of the importance of living life to the fullest. Wakes are deeply meaningful, so it’s not unusual to feel pressure about doing things right.

Decide On The Type Of Ceremony

Every person is different, meaning a memorial that’s appropriate to one person might not be the best choice for another. The deceased may be best honored by a very traditional ceremony or by something completely unique. Your cremation services provider can help you understand your options and decide which type of memorial or wake would be best.

Get The Word Out

Remember out-of-town guests need time to plan their schedules, get time off of work, buy tickets, and take care of other arrangements so they can attend. If at all possible, pick a date that isn’t likely to clash with important obligations, such as graduations or Christmas plans. As soon as you have a date, start spreading the word on social media, by text, and through friends and family.

Order Flowers With As Much Advance As Possible

Florists get very busy from early-February through the wedding season in early summer. The earlier you can get in your order, the more choices (and better prices) you’ll have. When you order early, you also build in a cushion in case there are any mistakes with the order.

Decide Whether To Print

Some wakes feature programs or other printed mementos. If there’s no particular order of events, you could still hand out photos of the deceased, a printed copy of their favorite poem or Bible verse, or even bookmarks. Many guests will want a memento of the deceased and printed materials are a way to provide that.

Arrange Tastefully

While a memorial should be a celebration of life, it’s also not a light-hearted party. What you choose to put out should honor the deceased while providing guests with a reminder of fond memories and the best qualities of a person they loved. Consider a review of ibi, which offers a great way to set up photo sharing for every guest and allows you to send photos to everyone’s phones so they can enjoy them in groups as they mingle.

Coordinate Some Food And Beverage

You may not want a full meal at a memorial ceremony, but it is a good idea to have at least some food and drink available. We’re better able to deal with strong emotions when we have some food, and even more importantly, food symbolizes the continuation of life and joy. If cost is an issue, keep it simple and buy in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club; or, even better, ask guests to bring something to share.

Play Some Music

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak. So said the playwright William Congreve in the early 18th century, and the situation hasn’t changed today. Tasteful music, either live or curated for the occasion, will soothe strong emotions. Just make sure that it’s in keeping with the tastes of the person you’re honoring and that it’s not so loud that it disturbs conversations.

Make Time To Laugh

As a celebration of life, your wake should include time to share stories about a beloved friend and family member. Some of these will be serious and inspire tears, but as the host, you should deliberately arrange for some humorous ones, as well. A bit of tasteful humor will provide a counter to sorrow and remind everyone of the joy it was to have known the deceased at all.