Planning A Memorial Service or Gathering On Your Own

Here are some helpful things to consider…

Planning a service in a short period of time can be overwhelming.  Fallis-Shields Funeral Homes staff is proficent in organizing this process and following through with you.

If you wish to take care of things on your own we have compiled a checklist to assist you so that you can write down all of the confirmations, allowing for a seamless and organized service. Our professionals are also on hand 24 hours to assist you in any way we can.  Your funeral provider can assist you and provide any of these services should you decide.


One of the first things to consider and book will be the location of the service.  Be sure to have the date and time in mind prior to making your reservation.


Book your venue for an hour before you expect guests to arrive so that you can have time to set up the urn and any personalization.  Make sure they allow you to stay for an hour after you expect guests to leave so that you have time for any late comers and to clear out all belongings. 


Is your venue outdoors? Do you have a rain plan?


How many people are you expecting?  Is the location large enough? Is there enough parking?  Is there accessibility for everyone?

Special Considerations

Are flowers, food, music, etc. permitted?  If you plan to scatter the cremated remains do you have permission?

Identifying Facilitators:

It is important to make some delegations throughout your planning process to have a seamless memorial service or visitation.  You may designate certain people to facilitate various tasks.


If you are serving food how much do you need and what type of food are you planning to have? Who will cater the food and who will be serving? Will there be alcohol and if so will you need a permit?


If you are having a time of reflection or service you may choose to consider hiring a clergy or funeral celebrant (see below for more information on a Celebrant).  If so they will generally organize an order of service and talk with anyone else who will be involved with speaking.  If you choose not to hire a speaker here are some considerations:


Will there be any music played during this time?  Special songs may be played in the background while visiting or during the service itself. Who will look after bringing the equipment and music?  Who will look after playing the music?  Will there be a live performance by a soloist, bag piper, pianist, etc.?  Who will organize the performer?


What personalized items will you bring for this time together?

Cremated Remains

Will you bring the cremated remains? Will the cremated remains be in an urn?  What are the plans for the cremated remains after the service?  Who will book the cemetery for burial or scattering?


How will guests find out about the service?  Will there be a newspaper notice?  Who will create the notice and arrange for the newspaper insert?


Will there be flowers at the service?  Who will order the flowers and set them up at the venue?


Memorial cards, donation cards, register book and acknowledgement cards are all items to consider for a memorial service.  Who will take care of ordering, purchasing or creating any required stationery?

Other Items To Consider:


If your loved one was a member of a specific church you may wish to contact the church directly to have the clergy assist you with the service.


If you are looking for a non religious service the following people may be able to assist you with the service.

What is a Funeral Celebrant?

A growing number of individuals call themselves non-religious and do not participate within a faith community. Also, many people follow a strong 'spiritual' path but are not necessarily 'religious'. For both groups, when someone they love dies, they are often unclear about how to design a tribute that is fitting. Friends and family often want to particpate in the creation and presentation of personalized gathering, but may be uncomfortable or unable to speak publicly about death the the loss of a loved one.

In collaboration with you, your Celebrant will carefully craft a eulogy and create a ceremony with music, quotes, readings, unique symbols and rituals. No ceremony is delivered unless every detail of the eulogy is checked and approved by the family. Then, with compassion, sincerity and great care, the Celebrant officiates at the ceremony at the funeral home, crematorium, cemetery or memorial location of your choice.


Register Book– A register book is generally used for guests to leave their name and a special message for the family.  Many families appreciate having the register book to look back on over time.  Register books are available through the Funeral Home or you can purchase your own as well.

Acknowledgement Cards

When a death occurs there are many ways to support a family.  If someone has made you food, delivered flowers, made a donation in memory of your loved one, etc. it is important to remember to thank them. 

Personalized Acknowledgement cards are available through the Funeral Home.  Generic cardsare available at most stationery shops.

Memorial Cards

These cards are generally personalized and handed out at a visitation or a memorial service for guests to take home as a memorial.  Some families may create these cards on their own. The Funeral Home offers personalized memorial cards with pictures, poems, service details, etc. at any quantity as part of their media package or as a individual option.

Memorial DVD

A great tribute to your loved one and an excellent keepsake.  To create a memorial dvd be sure to use pictures from all different stages of your loved ones life.  Many of these dvd’s have music added to them as well.

Donation Cards

If we are present for the services, our staff will take care of receiving the donations, acknowledging the donation to the family and processing/forwarding the donation to the appropriate organization.  If you are going to take care of this process of receiving donations at the memorial service or gathering be sure to have donation cards for the specific charity you have requested.  We suggest to ask for cheque only as accepting cash makes the family responsible.  Delegate someone at the memorial service to be in charge of taking donations.  You will then have to forward those donations to the charities and acknowledge the donations to the family memebers in charge.

Please feel free to call us at any time if we can offer advice, guidance or assist you in any way!  Because you have chosen our firm, we are here to assist you in every way we can.