A memorial service planning checklist guide families to say goodbye in their own way.

Memorial Service Planning Checklist

  • Mel Buttigieg
  • Writer, Bare
  • July 16, 2021
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Australian funeral trends are changing. Families are moving away from tradition and religion when farewelling a loved one. As a result, more people are planning a memorial service rather than a funeral when a loved one dies. Memorials, or cebrations of life, are generally less formal and more personalised, focussing more on celebrating the deceased person’s life rather than their death. That’s why we’ve put together this Memorial Service Planning Checklist to guide families and friends who want to say goodbye in their own way.

This memorial service planning checklist explains how you might arrange a more personalised farewell, without the expense and formality of a traditional funeral.

How to use this Memorial Service Planning Checklist

Despite what traditional funeral homes may have you believe, you don’t need to hire a funeral director to farewell a loved one. A memorial, celebration of life, or wake, can be planned in the same way that any other event or party is arranged.

At Bare Cremation, we have separated the actual cremation service from any attended ceremony. Our team arranges the unattended direct cremation service to allow families and friends the time, budget and freedom to plan a send-off that can be as unique as the life being celebrated.

As our name suggests, we just provide the Bare essentials of a funeral service. You’re paying only for the things you need, and not the stuff you don’t. Removing the unnecessary expenses like a funeral director’s service fees, hearse, overpriced coffin, premium catering and chapel hire, means we can offer the highest possible care, for the lowest possible price. It also enables families to personalise how they say goodbye, in a way that best celebrates their loved one’s unique life.

The families we have arranged cremations for have gone on to plan lakeside picnics, scatterings at sea, send-offs at the local RSL, park ceremonies, and even a Viking funeral! The options are almost limitless.

This memorial service planning checklist includes the elements commonly included in a memorial or ceremony. Use it as a guide through each step of the process. As you go along, consider how you might personalise the memorial to best pay tribute to your loved one.

Our 10-step DIY guide to planning a funeral or memorial can offer more tips on arranging a memorial without a traditional funeral director. You can also read more in our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Memorial.

Remember, there are no rules when it comes to planning a memorial. Just as each human is unique, so too should their final send-off be.


A personalised lakeside picnic with family and friends was part of a Bare Memorial Service.
A themed lakeside picnic with family and friends was arranged for a Bare Memorial Service. Use our Memorial Service Checklist to personalise your memorial or celebration of life.

Our Memorial Service Planning Checklist

If you haven’t yet considered the type of funeral (cremation or burial), you should do this before you start planning the memorial.

A memorial takes place separately from any cremation or burial, without the coffin present. Often memorials will be arranged after the ashes have come home, so the urn can be present. This allows for a scattering ceremony to be included if that is what the family wish. You can read more about the difference between planning a memorial service vs planning a funeral, here.

Funeral Details Checklist

  • Funeral provider: did they have a prepaid funeral plan?
  • Cremation or burial?
    • Cremation: where will the ashes be kept/scattered
    • Burial: is there a burial plot? Preferred cemetery

Memorial Service Checklist

A memorial allows more freedom for customisation than a traditional funeral service. That means the options are limitless when it comes to tailoring the service. Consider each of the below bullet points to help you decide how you might personalise each element to best pay tribute to your loved one’s unique life.

  • Date and time
  • Budget: Do they have funeral insurance
  • Religious or agnostic?
  • Location (church/chapel, private residence, public place, hired venue)
  • Celebrant/MC
  • Prayers/poems/readings (and who will read them)
  • Any rituals to include
  • Scattering/interment ceremony
  • Readings or poems
  • Who will read the eulogy and tributes
  • Slideshow and/or video
  • Photos to be displayed
  • Other personal effects or collectables for a memory table
  • Interactive elements (memorial book, message cards…)
  • Catering
  • Seating (if applicable)
  • Music/songs/hymns/musicians
  • Donations in lieu of flowers
  • Keepsakes for attendees, or tribute/prayer cards
  • Dress requests (black or a favourite colour)
  • Memorial notice (newspaper notice, social media event/post)
  • Any groups, clubs or organisations to invite (e.g RSL)


Final thoughts

We hope this memorial service planning checklist covers the general elements you might consider when arranging a more personalised farewell, without the expense and formality of a traditional funeral home. Remember, there are no rules when it comes to planning a memorial. You have the choice to plan a farewell in the best way that does right by your person.

You can find out more about planning a more personalised farewell by reading our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Memorial and our article 13 unique memorial service ideas.

At Bare, we have partnered with some of Australia’s best celebrants who can help you plan a memorial that truly does right by your loved one. Our celebrant team will work with you to arrange and conduct a personalised family-led memorial service. We also suggest reading our article Choosing a funeral celebrant for a memorial? 6 questions to ask.

You can review the celebrant profiles on our website or chat with your dedicated Bare funeral arranger for a personalised recommendation.

Visit the Bare Memorial webpage here or chat with our dedicated funeral arrangers. Call 1800 202 901 for a prepaid arrangement, or 1800 071 176 for an immediate need arrangement.


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