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How To DIY A Celebration Of Life For Your Loved One

Here at Neo we specialise in direct cremations, which means there is no formal service/ ceremony at the crematorium before the cremation. Our direct cremations are designed to be as simple and affordable as possible whilst remaining respectful and caring. However, we still encourage families to commemorate their loved ones in their very own way if they want to. 


What a lot of people don’t realise is that you can actually plan and organise your own personal funeral or celebration of life without the use of a traditional funeral director. Some families prefer to organise all the practical arrangements including, paperwork, the place of rest before the cremation as well as the ceremony itself. However, this can be rather a lot of work for one person to take on. 


In this article, we will explore some ideas about how to organise your own commemorative event in conjunction with a Neo direct cremation. Neo can take care of all the practical arrangements giving the family time to plan and organise their very own commemorative event for the loved one. 


We occasionally have families come to us who are very interested in the Neo ethos and service but still wish to have some form of a commemorative event for the loved one, well this is one way to do it. 


Why organise a funeral or celebration of life yourself? 

Save money – An attended cremation can be very expensive, and you’ll normally be charged for every addition that you pick for the ceremony for example if the service takes place at midday they will charge more if the service requires more than a certain amount of music or extra time there will usually be additional costs involved. However, if you organise your own celebration of life you have more flexibility without incurring as many additional costs. 


Personalise – Attended cremations are normally rather one-size-fits-all, and you may not feel that the particular setting and atmosphere represents your loved one. However, if you have created your own service you can fully customize the entire experience to suit your loved one. 


Flexibility  – Normally with a traditional cremation service you are given set rules for the ceremony, such as being limited to 3 songs for music or 30-minute time slots (which you cannot run over, as other families will be waiting to have their service). Whereas at a private venue you can take as long or as little as you need with no pressure.



The first thing to consider when approaching the topic of organising a funeral or celebration of life yourself is the order you want the process to be carried out. Think about whether you’d like the commemorative event to take place before or after the cremation. 


If you choose to have the commemorative event before the cremation takes place. It opens up the possibility of being able to have the coffin and loved one present at the event. This is a great option if you wish to have the family physically be there with your loved one whilst celebrating their life. 


For a small additional fee, Neo is able to arrange for the loved one to be transported to the event for this purpose and will then return the loved one back to our place of rest to carry out the direct cremation. 


If you choose to have the ceremony after the cremation has taken place you have the flexibility to have it at any time that suits you and your family. It also opens up the options of combining the ceremony with having the ashes present or having them scattered somewhere special. 


This ceremony can be as simple or as extravagant as you’d like, and can be fully customised to whatever suits you. This is also a very affordable option as the only potential expenses would be for hiring the venue (which can be avoided if you’d rather do it outside or at home) and the catering (which is optional). 


Selecting the venue 

Sometimes, the crematorium chapel does not suit everyone. By organising your own celebration of life you have the freedom to choose from a huge variety of venues. This is not restricted to cemeteries or chapels. 


You can choose a special place that meant a lot to them or that suits their personality examples include: 


  • Their favourite pub
  • A beautiful local hall
  • Outdoors amongst nature


You’ll just need to check with the owners or venue staff that this is something they can cater for. If you have chosen to have the coffin present at the event you’ll just need to check that there is room for the coffin to lay and be transported in and out of the venue (minimal steps is recommended)



Selecting a speaker 

You have the option of choosing a minister or celebrant to conduct a service. From more serious to humorous and joyful, there is a huge range of speakers and styles to choose from and you can take the time to find one that suits you.


They will normally have a meeting with you beforehand and then tailor the service and readings to fit the loved one. 


However, if you’d rather keep things really personal it’s also perfectly acceptable for the funeral service to be led by a family member or friend. 


Selecting music 

Choosing the music for a loved one’s memorial can be a nostalgic and healing experience. Crematoriums usually allow only 2 – 3 songs, however, you are not restricted by this when you are organising the service yourself. A nice idea is to actually create a whole playlist of their favourite songs. When looking for inspiration you can look through their old CDs, Spotify playlist or simply think of songs that remind you of them. 


Perhaps a musical friend or family member may even wish to play a song in their honour.



How to plan the celebration of life alongside a Neo Direct Cremation 

The cremation itself would still take place at a Neo approved crematorium local to our place of rest. We’d ensure your loved one is cared for prior to the cremation and safely transported to your chosen venue on the day of your celebration of life. As our service is always simple and focused on the family so there would not be procession, hearse or limousines. Instead, the focus of the funeral is the service, arranged by you and your family.


Neo is also here to help and give advice wherever we can, such as helping to create an order of service, ordering flowers or helping structure the ceremony itself. 



Every individual is different and every celebration of life should reflect this. There is real value in being able to bring the family together in your own personal way to say goodbye and when done well can help a family with the grieving process itself. 


However, if you are interested in organising an attended cremation you can read What Happens At An Attended Cremation‘ for our advice on this.


We hope you have found this article useful, however, if you have any questions or need any help organising your own memorial for a loved one, you can always call: 0808 196 2140 to speak to our team.

Holly Roseveare

Operations Associate

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