Funeral and Repast Personalization: Seven Ways to Create a Deeply Meaningful Event

two people discussing a personalized poem for a departed loved one

When it comes to funeral and repast personalization, you have free reign to include the elements you feel are most important.


When a beloved family member passes away, it’s only natural to want to host a meaningful tribute to their life. The best way to do that is by incorporating things that reflect the departed’s personality and preferences. Perhaps the most challenging thing about memorial, funeral, or repast personalization is that the options are virtually unlimited. In fact, today’s life celebrations often include photo displays, collections, memory tables, and more. Each of those items can bring a unique and touching perspective but it requires some thoughtful planning and effort.

In this article, we have seven funeral and repast personalization tips to help you appropriately honor your loved one’s remarkable life.


1. Start by considering the departed.

Your loved one was unique and special. What did they enjoy most in life? What legacy would they be proud to leave? If your mother had a fondness for antiques, you might choose a spot that’s renowned for its history or create a table display to showcase her favorite collectibles. Was your brother always hitting the links? Consider incorporating a golf theme into his memorial service. There are many ways you can reflect favorite hobbies and interests throughout the funeral and reception.


2. Use the viewing or visitation to tell the story of a lifetime.

If your funeral planning includes a viewing or visitation, it’s a great opportunity for friends and family members to gather and express their sympathy. Whether the body is present or not, you can use this event to tell the story of your loved one’s lifetime. You might:

  • Display photos, mementos, or items associated with a hobby or interest (books, artwork, ceramics, model planes, etc.)  
  • Provide a keepsake token to take home, such as a book or favorite recipe
  • Ask guests to participate in a memorial work of art, like a thumbprint tree 


3. Let music express what words cannot.

Music sets the tone of a funeral or memorial service and has the power to bring emotions to the forefront. Consider using music as an avenue to evoke what people are thinking and feeling. For example: 

  • Choose songs that were significant to your loved one, regardless of the musical genre 
  • If you have musical family members, you might ask them to play a tribute song 
  • For those who are religious, choose appropriate hymns or praise songs 


4. Incorporate readings of significance to the departed.

Readings add another meaningful facet to the farewell service. They invite mourners to express their emotions while also honoring the unique spirit of the departed. Have you ever heard a poem, musical lyrics, or a movie quote that really spoke to you? Use these words to add a deeper dimension to the service. For example:

  • Include excerpts from favorite books, plays, movies, or TV shows 
  • For a person of faith, read passages from an appropriate holy book 
  • Consider reading special poems or quotations 
  • Read a letter you wrote to your loved one


5. Deliver a deeply personal eulogy.

The eulogy may be the single most important aspect of a funeral service. This short speech pays tribute to the life of the departed and reflects on the special qualities they embodied. Also called the remembrance speech, the eulogy may be delivered by a clergy person, a family member, or a number of people. Personalize it by:

  • Sharing memories, quotes, or your loved one’s favorite jokes 
  • Tell a significant and meaningful story about the person who passed on 
  • Bring visual aids such as an item the person always carried or was known to cherish  
  • Share something the departed taught you and how they impacted your life


6. Craft an inviting reception or repast.  

An important goal of the funeral reception is to allow those in attendance to share memories and further reflect on the life of the deceased. You can help foster interaction and make it more personal by including touches that bring to mind your loved one. There are many ways to accomplish this and you can find plenty of inspiring ideas on social platforms like Pinterest. You might:

  • Have the gathering at your loved one’s favorite restaurant 
  • Choose a venue that holds special meaning (for example, a church, local country club, beach, park, etc.) 
  • Serve your loved one’s favorite foods
  • Decorate the venue with the departed’s favorite colors 


7. Involve your guests.

By inviting others to take part in some aspect of your loved one’s final farewell, it engages them and allows them to put their grief into action. This an important step towards healing. Whether it’s at the funeral or the repast, there are many ways to include attendees in the event, such as:

  • Participate in a release ceremony using biodegradable balloons or lanterns
  • Invite mourners to write down favorite memories on note cards
  • Ask family and friends to bring photos they have of your loved one to add to a group collage 
  • Ask guests to wear your loved one’s favorite color
  • Light candles of remembrance 


Funerals and receptions have become more personalized in recent years and there are no hard and fast rules to the tactics you take. Whether you want a simple, intimate event or an elaborate celebration brimming with details, the choice is entirely up to you. Ultimately, planning a funeral or memorial service that reflects your loved one’s personality, values, and beliefs is the key to meaningfully honoring and celebrating their life.  


As you consider these funeral and repast personalization elements, please keep in mind that you are not alone. The caring and experienced staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is here to answer your questions and help you create a moment in time that will bring peace and comfort for years to come. Please contact us anytime.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, grief counseling, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit


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