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Celebration of Life Invitations: Who to Invite and What to Write

June 15th, 2023

Celebrating the life of a loved one marks a special opportunity to honor the recently departed. Processing loss is difficult, but bringing friends and family together to honor and celebrate their legacy can elicit fond memories, help the healing process and strengthen personal connections.

Unlike traditional funerals, celebrations of life are often held weeks or months after losing a loved one and tend to be more celebratory and joyous in nature. They can be formal, like in a hotel ballroom, or hosted more casually in a public park. You can even do a paddle-out in a lake or ocean in their memory, or raise a toast in their favorite pub. The only “must do” is to remember and honor someone no longer with you in a way that reflects their passions, wishes and personality.

Ready to host a celebration of life? Here’s who you should invite, and what to write in the invitation.

Who to Invite

A celebration of life can be as big or small as you’d like it to be. When deciding who to invite, here are a few groups to consider:

  • Close Family. If you are a close family member, reach out to other family members and see who they also want to include. If you are a friend of the deceased, make sure close family members know they are very much invited and wanted.
  • Extended Family. Rely on close family members to invite extended family members.
  • Close Friends. Who were the friends who impacted your departed friend or family member the most? This can include friends from the past as well as the present.
  • Friends and Acquaintances. This can include people who they spent time with outside their close circle, including neighbors, members of a book group or gardening club, poker night or golf buddies, and more.
  • Work Associates. Strong relationships are often built in the work environment. Find a coworker who was close to your loved one and lean on them to spread the word with others in their peer group.

What to Write

What to write in your loved one’s Celebration of Life invitation depends on their unique style and personality. It should reflect who they were, what they were passionate about, and what they would want their friends and family to remember most about them. The design and wording of the invitation should also set the tone for the celebration itself. If the event is more formal, send a more formal invitation, for example. Or create a more casual invitation for a celebration held in a park.

No matter the look and feel of your invitation, be sure to include all the important details:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Memorial dates (birth and death)
  • Time and location
  • What to bring
  • What to wear
  • Food and drink details

The invitation can also include a photo of your loved one and include a short description about their life. Overall, the wording should be simple and positive, and can be more lighthearted than funeral announcements.

If you’re looking for more ideas on what to say in your invitation, here are a few examples:

  1. Please join us as we gather to honor the incredible life of (name of the departed). Though our hearts may be heavy, let us come together to remember their vibrant spirit, cherish the memories we shared, and find some peace in the love and support of one another. Please bring a dish to pass and a beverage of choice.
  2. Though (name of departed) has left us physically, they will always be with us spiritually. Let’s all come together to celebrate the person that brought us all joy and laughter.
  3. It’s like (name of the departed) always said: (insert saying that your loved one was known for saying). And it’s our responsibility to help keep their spirit alive by living each day by those words. Join us as we come together and honor the life of (name of the departed). A light luncheon and refreshments will be served.
  4. We have all felt sadness and grief for (name of the departed)’s passing, but now it’s time for us to celebrate the remarkable life they lived! Please join us at the celebration of life ceremony for (name of the departed). Let’s do it for (name of the departed).
  5. Dear family and friends, please help us honor and celebrate the incredible life of Gregory Anderson. Gregory always brought joy and contagious laughter wherever he went. We hope you can join us in sharing a funny story, a favorite memory and a few light snacks (and adult beverages) with us.

Celebration of life details can also be included in the obituary if timing allows. Whatever type of service you plan, remember to focus on the joy your loved one brought into your life and the lives of so many others. Bringing those who loved them most together to celebrate a beautiful legacy is, after all, the greatest final gift of all.

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