For a loved one who lived a life true to the motto “happiness is a day at the beach,” there is no better way to celebrate his or her life than with a beach themed celebration.
As part of Love Lives On’s exclusive “A Fitting Farewell” series, we’ve curated the very best celebration of life ideas that honour a true beach lover to help you craft “A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean.”
We’ve sorted through these ideas and organized them into the following helpful sections. We are confident that the ideas you’ll find in this post will spark some inspiration for planning a unique celebration that honours your loved one and reflects his or her love of the beach.
- Why it’s Important to Work with Professionals
- Celebration of Life Venues
- Celebration of Life Urns
- Celebration of Life Invitations — Printed
- Celebration of Life Invitations — Via Social Media
- Celebration of Life Programs
- Celebration of Life Flowers
- Celebration of Life Music
- Celebration of Life Songs
- Celebration of Life Readings
- Celebration of Life Poems
- Celebration of Life Decorations
- Celebration of Life Guest Book
- Celebration of Life Memorial Boards
- Celebration of Life Posters
- Celebration of Life Table Decorations
- Celebration of Life Food
- Celebration of Life Gifts
- Celebration of Life Keepsakes
- Memorial Cards
- Celebration of Life Tribute Videos
- More Celebration of Life Ideas
Why it’s Important to Work with Professionals
When it comes to planning an end-of-life ceremony, it’s highly advisable to engage the services of experienced professionals, like a funeral director and a celebrant, for 3 vital reasons.
(1) They are Skilled Facilitators
Unlike weddings where only one person’s opinion matters, (i.e. the bride), many family members typically want to have a say when it comes to end-of-life ceremonies.
Since a time of loss is a stressful time for a family, it’s often difficult to arrive at a consensus about what a fitting ceremony looks like. It may even instigate family in-fighting and reopen old wounds.
Engaging the services of a highly-trained funeral director and celebrant will greatly help diffuse the pressure of the situation. They’re experts at facilitating productive conversations about how to best design a personalized ceremony that honours your loved one’s values, relationships and legacy.
(2) They are Experts in Creating “A Fitting Farewell”
An end-of life ceremony should never be a “cookie-cutter” experience. It should be as unique and special as your loved one was.
Funeral directors and celebrants are able to openly listen to all ideas expressed by the family and curate them. These ideas can then be incorporated into the funeral ceremony.
A skilled professional will provide guidance about which ideas work best, based on their years of experience. They’ll also offer specific and creative suggestions of their own to help the ceremony design process.
They’re truly committed to ensuring that your loved one’s life is honoured in a meaningful way and that it’s a rich experience for everybody who participated with this final goodbye.
(3) They Allow You to Focus on Saying Goodbye
If you chose to organize and run the service yourself, you’ll have to deal with the hundred-and-one logistical issues that arise when coordinating an important event.
It’s important to the grieving process to focus all your attention on saying goodbye to your loved one.
DIY ceremonies may save you a few dollars, but aren’t worth it in the long-run because you’ll miss out on the catharsis that comes with being in the moment and focusing on saying goodbye.
Instead, you’ll be distracted by the multitude of tasks that come with ensuring that the service runs smoothly. You may later deeply regret this choice, and wished that you hired a professional to handle everything instead.
How do I find Caring Professionals in My Area?
We recommend searching Love Lives On’s Business Directory for local funeral homes and celebrants.
Most funeral homes are happy to work in tandem with a celebrant of your choosing. (But it’s best to ask at the outset to avoid any misunderstanding.)
Some funeral homes even have their own qualified celebrants on staff, so be sure to inquire.
Want to Learn More About the Work that Funeral Celebrants Do?
Celebrants are passionate about helping families that have lost a loved one. To learn more about the important work they do, we recommend reading:
How to plan a ceremony with the help of a celebrant.
Celebration of Life Venues
Celebrations of life are becoming more and more popular choices for end-of-life ceremonies. A celebration of life tends to be less structured and have a more celebratory atmosphere than a traditional funeral service.
Celebrations of life tend to take place weeks or months after a loved one’s passing, typically after a burial or cremation has already occurred. Therefore, your loved one’s body is not present during a celebration of life. (Although his or her cremated ashes may be.)
For this reason, there is much more flexibility when it comes to selecting the location and time of year of the service when planning a celebration of life.
Come together as a family and brainstorm some ideas for places that were particularly significant to your loved one (e.g. his or her favourite beach) that might make an appropriate setting for the celebration of life.
Before contacting potential venues, it’s helpful to be able to provide them with an approximate guest count. This information will help them determine if they would be able to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting to attend.
Having a rough draft of your guest list will also help you determine whether you’ll need any audio equipment. You want to make sure that even guests sitting at the back of the ceremony will be able to hear what’s being said.
If you decide this equipment is essential, ask the venue management team if the rental costs include this or whether you will be required to rent or supply your own. Keep in mind that not every venue will be able to accommodate the use of audio equipment (e.g. if you choose to have the celebration of life on the beach) so knowing whether it’s necessary will help you decide on the venue.
Although you could always opt for a more traditional venue such as a local funeral home, community centre, or banquet hall, for your loved one’s celebration of life, we’ve come up with a few unique ideas for the location of A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean.
When planning a celebration of life for a loved one who was the ultimate beach bum, what better setting for his or her final farewell than on the beach? Listen to the soothing sounds of waves against the shore, smell the salty air and feel the sand between your toes as you reflect on your loved one’s incredible life. Can you imagine a more peaceful or comforting setting?
Before you get your heart set on this idea, check with your city or township to see if permits or bylaws may prevent you from hosting your loved one’s celebration of life on the beach.
If your loved one was cremated and you wish to scatter his or her ashes as a part of the celebration of life ceremony, you should also ask if there are bylaws regulating this process.
Next, consider asking a family member who has a beautifully maintained, sizeable yard or property (ideally one on the water!) if they would be willing to let you host the celebration of life there.
You can use decorations and lighting to completely transform the yard into a beach oasis. Emphasize the calming vibes of the beach by adding orb twinkle lights, tiki streamers, beach or patio furniture and other items you’d find on the beach!
If the backyard is not on the water, consider playing some beach sounds through speakers to magically transport people to the beach.
You can also project an ocean or beach scene onto a makeshift projector screen made out of a white sheet folded over a clothesline. You could also use this screen to play a tribute video or photo slideshow as a part of the celebration of life service.
A beach is a happy place for so many people because of its peaceful and calming energy, which is why restaurants are willing to pay a top dollar for that prime, beachfront location.
A waterfront restaurant would make a beautiful setting for the celebration of life. Hosting a celebration of life at a restaurant kills two birds with one stone. It provides a beautiful venue for the celebration of life and takes care of all your food needs for the event.
Depending on the size of the guest list and if you prefer a private event, you might want to see if you can rent out the entire restaurant for your loved one’s celebration of life.
If you’re planning a smaller gathering, it likely wouldn’t be financially feasible to rent out the whole restaurant for the evening. Instead, see if it would be possible to reserve a few tables in a more private part of the restaurant (e.g. an enclosed patio or a party room if they have one!).
Guests can share a meal in an intimate setting while exchanging fond memories of your loved one while taking in the view of the beach.
This next venue idea is perfect for a loved one who not only loved the beach but loved to be out on the water. If you live close to a body of water, see if any local cruise lines have party boat rental packages available for private events.
These kinds of rentals are becoming increasingly popular, and these boats are fully equipped with everything you would need for the celebration of life, including a dining room and a kitchen, if you wish to also have your reception meal on the water.
A boat cruise would also make the perfect setting for an ash scattering ceremony. Before you head back to the dock, scatter your loved one’s ashes into the sea to let them embark on one last journey.
Celebration of Life Urns
Many families choose to have their loved one’s ashes present at the celebration of life, especially those who wish to scatter their loved one’s ashes as part of the service or have the ashes present in a beautiful urn.
If this is something that you are interested in, you might want to purchase a cremation urn to display at the service.
There are a variety of cremation urns that you can purchase varying in not just the materials that they’re made out but also their shape, size, and colour. In our search online, we found so many lovely cremation urns that perfectly fit into the beach theme that it was difficult to choose just 13 to showcase!
Any of these traditional urns would make a suitable tribute for A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean. These beautiful urns, which feature beach-inspired designs, are just a few examples of the beach-themed urns that you can purchase online.
Are you looking for something a little less traditional? The following urns in the image below showcase more abstract and whimsical designs to reflect your loved one’s love of the beach.
From left to right, the first urn made from sand with a delicate starfish topper is from Alavida (see image below top-left). Inspired by the beach in both the materials it’s made out of as well as the starfish detail on the top; this urn is a fitting choice to commemorate a beach lover. Because the urn is made from sand, it is 100% biodegradable and, unless wrapped in plastic, will dissolve if buried within three years.
Next, cremation urn from Urns Northwest is made out of beautiful turquoise ceramic and features a delicate array of aquatic shells and sea plants.
You immediately think of long walks on the beach when you look at this next urn. Available for purchase at Cremation Solutions, this urn is also made from sand and features footprint impressions in the urn’s surface, mimicking footprints in the sand. This urn would be perfect for a burial at sea as it has holes in the bottom to allow water to enter quickly. The urn would float only briefly and then gracefully sink when placed into the water — a peaceful final sendoff.
We love this next abstract depiction of an ocean wave on this urn from Safe Passage Urns (see image below; top-right). The flowing patterns and coastal colour palette provide a less overtly obvious representation of the beach.
This next urn to the bottom-left in the image below is shaped like a delicate seashell. This urn is made from non-toxic and recycled paper making it environmentally friendly and 100% biodegradable. It is available for purchase at Vision Medical.
Another abstract urn, this urn from In the Light Urns uses breathtaking glass work to create waves of light and colour, reminiscent of rippling ocean waves (see image below; centre image).
Finally, this azure blue cloisonne urn from Stardust Memorials features several shades of blue garden foliage and blooms. A stunning tribute to a loved one who adored everything about nature (see image below; bottom-right).
Celebration of Life Invitations – Printed
You can consider sending printed invitations by mail or electronic invitations (e-vites) via e-mail or social media to the guests you’re inviting your loved one’s celebration of life.
To help make this decision, first, think about who you’re inviting and their level of comfort with technology. For example, younger generations tend to be more tech-savvy than older generations.
Next, consider if invitees will receive the invitation promptly. If you wish to send printed invitations, you’ll need to factor in time for printing and postage. For e-vites, consider whether the invitee checks his or her social media or e-mail accounts regularly.
Lastly, consider whether or not you think that the people you are inviting would appreciate a printed invitation to have as a keepsake.
When it comes to designing and printing celebration of life invitations, there are some fantastic websites that you can use to customize invitation designs, order printed invitations and have them shipped directly to your address. Check out our favourite sites for celebrations of life invitations in our Ultimate Funeral Reception Invitation Guide.
Canva is one of our favourite platforms to use to design printed invitations. It’s a one-stop-shop, allowing you to order your printed invitations directly from Canva’s platform and have them shipped to you.
Canva is free to use and has a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor with hundreds of beautiful and fully customizable invitation templates.
Although not all design elements are free, they offer a large selection of free graphics, illustrations and images that you can use to help you customize the invitation template to reflect the beach theme.
You can use keywords such as “beach” or “seashell” to search through the elements to easily find design elements that work with your beach theme.
The following invitation designs in the three images below were made using Canva invitation templates. All elements used are free on Canva or are royalty free stock photos from websites such as Pixabay and Pexels.
The design and tone of the invitation should inform your guests whether the celebration of life will be a formal or casual affair, which will help them decide how to dress and prepare.
If you have any special requests for how you’d like guests to dress (e.g. ask them to wear a Hawaiian shirt or dress in a specific colour), you can also specify this on the invitation.
These first two sample invitation designs are appropriate for a celebration of life where there will be a full meal served after the ceremony. These two examples use casual language and whimsical fonts and colour palettes to indicate that the celebration of life will be informal.
If you are planning a celebration of life reception where you will be serving light refreshments only, such as canapes, the text options in this next set of designs would be appropriate.
These designs use elements, fonts and a colour palette that suggest that the celebration of life will be more semi-formal.
These next examples of celebration of life invitations feature wording that would be appropriate for a celebration of life that will not be followed by a reception meal.
There are a few essential elements that you should make sure that you include in your celebration of life invitations, regardless of whether the service will be formal or informal:
- The first name of the deceased (you can choose to include the last name as well);
- The date of the celebration of life and reception;
- The venue and address (be sure to include for both the celebration of life venue and the reception venue if they will take place in different places);
- The start and end times of the celebration (TIP: confirm these details with the venue before printing your invitations!);
- The kind of food and drinks will be served so that guests know what to expect and can plan accordingly. If you are planning a “pot-luck,” the invitation should specify what you want guests to bring;
- If the celebration of life is at an outdoor location, your invite should include details about the backup plan in the event of bad weather;
- The invitation should also have the name of the person to contact, along with his or her phone number or email address, so that guests know who they should call or email with any questions, or to RSVP. (Including details for RSVPs are extremely important so that you can get an accurate guest count to relay to the venue and to ensure you plan for sufficient food and drinks for the event).
Celebration of Life Invitations – Via Social Media
Online invitations have a few advantages over printed invitations. If you’re in a time crunch, sending an e-mail or social media invitation is the way to go. Your e-vites are instantly delivered, and you don’t have to stress about additional time for printing, postage or risk of lost mail.
You also don’t have to worry about the additional fees associated with printed invitations such as ink, paper and postage. For this reason, electronic invitations also tend to be the less expensive option.
If you’re confident that the guests you’re inviting are active online, or if the guest list is small enough that you can follow up your e-vites with a phone call, this the most stress-free option.
Meme-orial allows you to create a customizable social media invitation for your loved one’s celebration of life in just three simple steps. Instantly share a personalized, unique social media post in honour of your loved one that invites friends and family to a celebration of his or her life.
All you need to do is select a photo of your loved one, add a personalized message, and select a background image that reflects the beach theme.
You can either write the details of the event in place of the personalized message (like in the example on the left) or write these details in the social media post that accompanies the Meme-orial (like in the example on the right).
You can easily share the Meme-orial on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.
Celebration of Life Programs
Programs are an example of something that you would typically see at a traditional funeral or memorial service that you might also wish to have for your loved one’s celebration of life.
Whether you decide to have a celebration of life program will depend on what you’re planning for your loved one’s service. For example, you wouldn’t need a celebration of life program if you plan to have an informal ceremony that will not follow a specific order or timeline.
However, if you’re planning a ceremony with more structure, you might wish to create a celebration of life program so that guests know what to expect during the celebration.
If you decide to create a celebration of life program for A Fitting Farewell for A Love Deeper Than the Ocean, you’ll want to give yourself some time to put it together and have it professionally printed. Guests that attend the celebration of life may wish to keep this program as a treasured keepsake.
A celebration of life program would typically include:
- The first name (and perhaps the last name) or the deceased;
- His or her date of birth and death;
- A photo;
- The time, place, and date of the celebration of life;
- The name of the Officiant or celebrant (if applicable) who will be presiding over the services;
- The full name of the person who will be delivering the eulogy (if there will be one). You may also choose to include his or her relationship of the person being remembered;
- The song titles (and name of the artists) that will be played or sung during the ceremony; and
- The titles of any poems or readings (and the authors) that will be shared during the celebration of life.
You could also include the following information. However, note that the more pages there are in the celebration of life program, the higher your printing costs will be:
- A brief biography of your loved one’s life (this may include notable achievements, hobbies, favourite song, flowers, poem, book or TV show, etc.);
- Photos of your loved one at different stages or important occasions;
- The deceased’s favourite hobbies;
- A breakdown of the order of events of the service;
- List of surviving family members;
- Names or pictures of his or her treasured pets; and
- A message of thanks from the family to the guests of the celebration of life, as well as acknowledgements for any thoughtful contributions.
It’s important to keep in mind that when it comes to creating a program for a celebration of life, you can choose to either design it and print it yourself or design and order printed programs through an online printing service.
For a professionally formatted celebration of life program, consider using Funeral Prints to design and print custom programs. This quality printing company offers a variety of gorgeous 4-page and 8-page celebration of life program templates that can be customized to suit the celebration of life you are planning.
To use Funeral Prints’ online editor, you’ll need the latest version of Adobe Flash installed. Then, select a template to customize with your desired font style, font colour, and text. You can then upload a photo of your loved one to feature in the program. Consider using an image of your loved one on the beach or by the sea to tie into the beach theme.
Lastly, specify the number of programs you want to print and your shipping information and Funeral Prints will handle the rest for you!
Funeral Prints already has a wide selection of pre-set templates for that would be a perfect fit for A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper than the Ocean. Here are just a few examples of the ready-to-customize templates that you can find on their website: River Rocks Program (left); Morning Ocean Program (right).
If you’re not comfortable using technology or had more customizations in mind, Funeral Prints will work with you to bring your vision to life, at no extra charge.
You can e-mail them files for the background image, photo of your loved one, and the program text that you’d like to use and they will put the program together for you and provide you with a proof for approval.
Here are a few examples of custom celebration of life programs that Funeral Prints can help you make.
Download the image used for the background of this celebration of life program here.
Download the image used for the background of this celebration of life program template here.
Funeral Prints typically ships orders within 3 to 5 days from the date of purchase and ships across the continental USA, with free ground shipping.
It takes longer to ship orders from Canada or internationally. You can contact Funeral Prints directly for an accurate delivery estimate for orders outside the USA, and they’ll be happy to assist you.
The total cost for Funeral Prints’ celebration of life programs depends on the number of programs that you purchase and whether you select a 4-page or 8-page program. The following chart summarizes Funeral Prints pricing:
Celebration of Life Flowers
Nothing pairs more beautifully together than beach tones, seashells and flowers. You can create some beachy flower arrangements out of items you can find on the beach such as sand, seashells, starfish, and coral.
We’ve curated our favourite floral arrangements for A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean in the following images.
This first set of stunning flower designs may be a little too intricate to achieve on your own, but a local florist would surely be able to help you replicate.
This next set of flower arrangement ideas are more manageable for a DIY project.
You can turn any regular flower arrangement into a beachy bouquet just by filling a vase or container of your choice with water, sand and seashells (see left, top-middle, bottom-middle examples in the image below). You can fill these vases with the flowers of your choice.
Another idea would be to create a nautically-themed rope vase to display the flower arrangement in (see image to the bottom-left below). This tutorial shows you just how simple and beautiful this can look!
Mason jars can also make a beautiful vessel to display flowers at the celebrations of life. Use blue tinted mason jars (see image to the top-right below) or chalk painted mason jars in beach tones (see image to the bottom-right below) to create a beachy vase for your flower arrangements.
Want to bring an extra personal touch to your celebration of life flowers? Learn the meanings to 10+ popular funeral flowers to help you choose flower types and colours that reflect the message you are trying to convey.
Celebration of Life Music
Celebration of life music can play an influential role in setting the overall tone for the event and adds a personal touch to the ceremony. A celebration of life is just that – a celebration, so the music selection should be uplifting.
Consider the different points throughout the celebration of life where music would be fitting. For example, you might want to play a particular song (e.g. your loved one’s favourite song or a song that captures his or her spirit) while guests are arriving and leaving the celebration of life. If you are planning to scatter your loved one’s ashes during the ceremony, you might want music to play during the ash scattering. Will there be a tribute video? You could consider playing background music while the video plays.
Since a celebration of life is less structured, you could choose to have a playlist playing softly in the background throughout the ceremony and reception.
Here are some beach songs that would make fitting songs for celebration of life music to commemorate a true beach lover:
- “Circle in the Sand” by Louis Armstrong.
“Oh, baby, anywhere you go, We are bound together. I begin, baby, where you end. Somethings are forever. Circle in the sand.”
- “Footprints In the Sand” by Leona Lewis.
“I heard you say, I promise you, I’m always there. When your heart is filled with sorrow, And despair, And I’ll carry you. When you need a friend. You’ll find my footprints in the sand”
- “Sand and Water” by Beth Neilson Chapman
“I will see you in the light of a thousand suns. I will hear you in the sound of the waves. I will know you when I come, as we all will come, Through the doors, beyond the grave”
- “Island In the Sun” by Weezer.
“On an island in the sun/We’ll be playin’ an’ havin’ fun/And it makes me feel so fine/I can’t control my brain.”
- “On the Beach ” by Neil Young.
“Get out of town, think I’ll get out of town/Get out of town, think I’ll get out of town/I head for the sticks with my bus and friends, I follow the road, though I don’t know where it ends/Get out of town, get out of town, think I’ll get out of town.”
- “Be Still” by The Killers.
“Be still. Wild and young. Long may your innocence reign. Like shells on the shore. And may your limits be unknown. And may your efforts be your own. If you ever feel you can’t take it anymore.”
- “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys.
“Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand. We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band. Down in Kokomo.”
- “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood.
“Where the water meets the sky, The thought of it makes me smile. You are my tomorrow. I will see you again, oh This is not where it ends. I will carry you with me, oh ‘Till I see you again.”
- “Gone Too Soon” by Michael Jackson.
“Like a castle built upon a sandy beach. Gone too soon.”
We’ve also curated a list of 200+ of the best funeral songs for funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life. Also, if your loved one was religious and you wish to incorporate some religious sentiments into his or her celebration of life service, we also have a list of 50+ of the best funeral gospel songs.
Celebration of Life Songs
Live musicians can add an intimate touch to a celebration of life ceremony. Although recorded music is both cheaper and easier to find, nothing compares to the intimate, deeply personal atmosphere created by live music.
If you know someone who is a gifted musician, ask whether he or she would be willing to perform during your loved one’s celebration of life. You can browse our list of 200+ of the best songs for funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life.
The song you select for a live performance should be significant or sentimental. Your loved one’s favourite song would be an excellent song choice for this live performance. Do you have a song that you’ve found that reminds you of your loved one? This song might make an excellent choice as well.
Celebration of Life Readings
Readings are often included in a celebration of life to pay tribute to the person being remembered. You can choose a few readings to recite in his or her memory that genuinely reflect the beautiful life that he or she lived.
Although it is not always the case, celebrations of life tend to be more secular than a traditional funeral or memorial service (i.e. they do not include references to a particular religious affiliation). Therefore, secular readings tend to be more popular choices for a celebration of life.
However, this does not mean that celebrations of life have to be secular. If your loved one was religious and faith played a significant role in his or her life, it would be appropriate to include spiritual readings in the celebration of life. Consider selecting a meaningful passage from the bible or your loved one’s favourite scripture, or you can browse our list of popular bible verse for funerals for ideas for readings to include.
Celebration of Life Readings for Children
Celebration of life readings is a great way to incorporate special children (such as grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc.) into the ceremony. The following three readings would be perfect for children and teens to read during the celebration of life.
This first reading is perfect for a child who is old enough to light a candle to recite in memory of his or her loved one. He or she can recite the reading while lighting each of the four candles referenced, adding an interactive element to this tribute. Multiple children can take on a role in this reading. One can recite the reading while the other four each get to light a candle.
By an Unknown Author
The first candle represents our grief.
The pain of losing you is intense
It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.
The second candle represents our courage.
to confront our sorrow,
comfort each other,
and to change our lives.
This third candle we light in your memory.
For the times we laughed,
The times we cried,
The times we were angry with each other,
The silly things you did,
The caring and joy you gave us.
The fourth candle we light for our love.
We light this candle that your light will always shine
As we enter this sad time and share this day of remembering
with family and friends.
We cherish the special place in our hearts
That will always be reserved for you.
We thank you for the gift
Your living brought each of us.
This next celebration of life reading is short and sweet, making it easy for a child to memorize and recite at the celebration of life. It shares a beautiful message that like the sun and the moon, death has nothing to do with going away. Your loved one will always be with you, even if you can no longer see them.
Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets
The moon sets
But they are not gone.
This uplifting celebration of life reading is in the voice of the person you are remembering. It reads as if your loved one is sending a message everyone gathered, reminding them how they want to be remembered.
By an Unknown Author
I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an after glow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun
of happy memories
that I leave when life is done
Celebration of Life Readings for Adults
This first celebration of life reading centres around a metaphor about a ship and the sea. It explores the concept of what happens when the physical body dies, and the spirit embarks on a new journey.
A Parable of Immortality
By Rev. Luther F. Beecher
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud
Just where the sea and the sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone says, “There she goes!”
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes”
There are other eyes watching her coming
And their voices ready to take up the glad shouts,
“Here she comes!”
This celebration of life reading expresses the thoughtful sentiment that a life well lived leaves a lasting mark on the world. It would be an uplifting reading to honour someone whose life made the world a brighter place.
A Life Well Lived
A life well lived is a precious gift
Of hope and strength and grace,
From someone who has made our world
A brighter, better place
It’s filled with moments, sweet and sad
With smiles and sometimes tears,
With friendships formed and good times shared
And laughter through the years.
A life well lived is a legacy
Of joy and pride and pleasure,
A living, lasting memory
Our grateful hearts will treasure.
This next celebration of life reading reminds guests to look for your loved one in the beauty of the world, and remember them for the memories and love you shared. This reading leaves listeners with the uplifting sentiment that as long as you continue to think of your loved one, they will never truly be gone.
By Margaret Mead
To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea – remember me.
As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty – remember me.
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity – remember me.
Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, and your memories of the times we
loved, the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed.
For if you always think of me, I will have never gone.
This next reading is appropriate reading for a beach themed celebration of life, especially if you’re looking to incorporate a religious sentiment. Powerful imagery sets a scene where your loved one is walking along the beach to heaven. This reading references the Lord, so would be appropriate for a non-secular celebration of life.
Footprints In the Sand
By Margaret Fishback Powers
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:
“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me.”
The LORD replied:
“My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
This celebration of life reading would be perfect for reciting during an ash scattering ceremony at sea. The lines “I will be as one with the sea” would be particularly meaningful in this context.
Alone I Will Not Be
By Capt. Chad Theesfeld
Alone I will not be
my comfort will come from the sea.
The stillness of calm waves will gently drift by
I will be as one with the sea.
When the sun sets on the ocean blue,
remember me as I will always remember you.
As the sun rises…go live life as full as can be
Apart…you and me…but at peace for I am free
Lastly, aptly titled “Be Comforted,” this celebration of life reading would comfort those attending the ceremony by leaving them with a beautiful message that “the cool ocean breezes shall blow from me, the memory of your name.” A perfect reading for the celebration of life ceremony that will be taking place on the beach.
My life is ended here at peace with the sea.
The Lord has called me home and I am free to go peacefully.
Don’t mourn my passing as I am now in the presence of the Glory of God,
His bright love is abundant and his promises are real.
I will wait here for you dear ones in Jesus’ arms and watch over you with him until you also come home.
Be comforted loved ones.
“I shall go the way of the open sea, To the Lands before you came, And the cool ocean breezes shall blow from me, The memory of your name”
Celebration of Life Poems
Poetry is another way that you can add a personal touch to a loved one’s celebration of life.
When choosing celebration of life poems, think carefully about the person that you are remembering. Consider what made them so special and what qualities you will remember most about them. Think about the things that were most important to them in life. The poems you choose to include in the celebration of life should reflect these sentiments.
Also since a celebration of life tends to be more uplifting in tone than a traditional funeral or memorial service, try to select poems that focus on celebrating your loved one’s life and memory.
The next two sections feature celebration of life poems that might help you reflect the sentiment you’re trying to convey at A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean.
Celebration of Life Poems for Children
This celebration of life poem is one of our favourite poems for a beach themed celebration of life. It’s short and sweet, making it the perfect poem for a child to read and centres around powerful imagery and thoughtful metaphors about the beach. It leaves us with the message that even after joy passes, beauty remains in the world.
Something Beautiful Remains
By Martha Vashti Pearson
The tide recedes
But leaves behind
Bright shells on the seashore.
The sun goes down
But gentle warmth
Still lingers on the land.
The music stops and yet
It lingers on in sweet refrains –
For every joy that passes
Something beautiful remains.
This next celebration of life poem uses the metaphor of the soul gaining wings in death beautiful imagery of our loved one’s soul being set free to fly somewhere beyond this Earth.
My Soul Has Wings
When I die and leave behind
this earth I love, these trees, this sky,
the pounding sea, the yearly hope of spring…
Cry not for me, Rejoice!
My soul has wings
and in its freedom sings.
This short poem doesn’t directly relate to the beach theme but is perfect for a celebration of life. It reminds us that even though someone we love is gone, they remain in our hearts forever.
As Long As Hearts Remember
As long as hearts remember
As long as hearts still care
We do not part with those we love
They’re with us everywhere
Another excellent selection for a child to read, this celebration of life poem reminds us to be thankful for the life lived, and take comfort in knowing that one day we will all be reunited as “even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea.”
Honour and Comfort
By A.C. Swinburne
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea
Celebration of Life Poems for Adults
With references to the tide, sunlight and gulls flying far overhead, this uplifting poem reminds us of our loved one’s constant presence while using beautiful imagery fits in with the beach theme.
I Am There
By Iris Hesselden
Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed
Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed
I am there, where the river flows
And the salmon leap to a silver moon
Where the insects hum and the tall grass grows
And sunlight warms the afternoon
I am there in the busy street
I take your hand in the city square
In the market place where the people meet
In your quiet room – I am there
I am the love you cannot see
And all I ask is – look for me.
This next celebration of life poem is a short excerpt from the poem “The Cloud” by Percy Bysshe Shelly. It would make a beautiful addition to a celebration of life for a “daughter of the Earth and Water.”
The Cloud (Excerpt)
By Percy Bysshe Shelly
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
This poem is written with the deceased as the narrator and uses powerful imagery to remind friends and family not to mourn but to remember the happy times shared. These lines are particularly fitting for a beach themed celebration of life: “Where seagulls cry above the sea and surf rolls in so endlessly. Among towering trees that soar above, in all these things that I once loved. Look for me, and I’ll be there. You’ll feel my presence everywhere”.
I’ll Be There
There was no time to say goodbye
Remember me as you think best
The happy time – forget the rest.
Look for me and I’ll be there
And you will find me everywhere
In the gentle touch of breeze
That cools the skin or swirls the leaves.
In the scent and colour of flowers
That gave to me such happy hours
On sunny days under sunny skies of blue
Just think of me, I’ll be with you.
In winter when there’s cloud or mist
The rain will give to you my kiss
As wood smoke lingers in the air
Look for me and I’ll be there.
Where seagulls cry above the sea
And surf rolls in so endlessly
Among towering trees that soar above
In all these things that i once loved
Look for me and I’ll be there
You’ll feel my presence everywhere.
This last poem is our favourite of this collection. The message indeed emphasizes someone’s wish for those left behind to celebrate life and gives instructions for loved ones about how they want them to grieve their passing.
Don’t Weep for Me
Don’t weep for me, for it was time
to slip life’s bonds and soar and climb.
Do not grieve for what is past,
for bodies are not meant to last.
Expendable, their only role
a growing medium for the soul.
Don’t store my books, don’t wear my rings
or cling to clothes or other things
of sentimental value, for
you do not need them anymore.
Browse through photos for a while,
but only if they make you smile
and call to mind how much we cared,
the things we did, the times we shared;
but do not sigh and wish them back,
or dress yourself in hopeless black,
for clouds will part and larks will rise –
the wheel must turn to make us wise.
And this is how ‘twill ever be:
I’m part of you, you’re part of me.
At every dawning’s golden flare,
each velvet nightfall, I’ll be there.
On woodland walk, by tossing sea,
some elemental part of me
will ride the wind and sing its song,
for each to each, we all belong.
Your happiness will set me free;
beloved, do not weep for me.
You can also browse the extensive poetry library on Love Lives On for more poem ideas to include in your loved one’s celebration of life:
- 150 of the best funeral poems on the web
- 100+ of the best poems about death
- Funeral poems for to celebrate a special mom
- Funeral poems to honour an amazing dad
- Funeral poems for a cherished sister
- Funeral poems for an incredible brother
- Funeral poems to remember a wonderful aunt
- Funeral poems to remember a beloved uncle
- Funeral poems for a special grandma
- Funeral poems for an amazing grandpa
Celebration of Life Decorations
With a beach theme, the celebration of life decor is bound to be calming and beautiful.
There are so many creative decoration ideas that you can use to decorate your loved one’s beach-themed celebration of life. Here are some of our favourite celebration of life decoration ideas for A Fitting Farewell for a Love Deeper Than the Ocean:
This first hanging driftwood decoration is a unique way to incorporate elements from the beach into the decor for the celebration of life (see image above on the top-left). This decoration would be ideal for an indoor venue as it needs to be suspended from the ceiling.
To make this celebration of life decoration, you’ll need three pieces of driftwood that are about the same size, a roll of twine, several air plant holders and whatever you wish to fill the air plant holders with (for example flowers, sand, tiny seashells or tealight candles).
Make sure to check with the venue before taking on this project to see if it would be possible to hang something like this from the ceiling.
We love this next decoration idea! If you’re hosting the celebration of life at a venue that has a pool (such as in a backyard), transform the pool into a magical scene by decorating the bases and handles of upside-down white umbrellas with flowers and greenery (see image above on the top-right).
You can then place the umbrellas upside-down in the pool and let them float gracefully throughout the celebration of life festivities. You can even wrap some cordless twinkle lights around the handle to make sure they stay visible into the night.
Another decoration idea would be to create this DIY seashell “Love” sign (see image above, bottom-left) to express your love for your loved one and his or her love for the beach. Purchase a wooden “love” sign and decorate it with decorative shells using a hot glue gun.
This next idea involves filling a clear glass Christmas ornaments with beach-inspired elements (see image above, bottom-middle). Fill the ornaments with materials that reflect the beach theme such as different kinds of tiny seashells, crushed shells, sand, rocks, and white glitter. Hang the ornaments around the celebration of life venue or use them to decorate trees surrounding the venue.
Next, this DIY seashell garland not only looks gorgeous but is also incredibly easy to make. All you need to make this garland at home are some shells, a piece of twine and a power drill with a small drill bit.
First, carefully drill a hole through the top of each shell using the power drill. Next, decide on how long you want your garland to be and cut a piece of twine of that length. Thread the twine through the hole in the first shell and then tie a knot to keep the shell from sliding. Repeat the process with the rest of the twine, tying each shell equal distance apart (about 2 inches).
If you don’t feel confident in the DIY craft department – don’t worry! Etsy sells a variety of beautiful ready-to-order seashell garlands that you can purchase online today.
Lastly, you can always bring some elegant lighting to the celebration of life by merely scattering the floor or ground of the celebration of life venue with beautiful paper lanterns.
For the loved one who sparkled in life, these dazzling gold and silver seashells would be a fitting celebration of life decoration. Spray paint some seashells with metallic gold and silver spray paint and arrange them in a bowl along with some unpainted shells. You can find metallic spray paints at your local craft or hardware store (see image above on the left).
Twinkle lights are the perfect way to create a dream-like atmosphere for the celebration of life. Easily make these DIY Seashell String Lights with just a few simple materials to create some unique beach inspired lighting (see image above in the centre).
Lastly, chalkboard signs displaying a variety of different quotes relating to life and the beach are easy to make and beautiful to display at the venue or on a memory table (see image above on the far-right).
Here are a few examples of quote ideas to use on your beach themed sign:
- “Sky above, sand below, peace within.”
- “To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” – Jeanne Moreau
- “If there’s heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it.” – Jimmy Buffet
- “At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.” – Sandy Gingras
- “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Wyland
- “Beach Rules: Soak up the sun. Ride the waves. Breathe the salty air. Feel the breeze. Build sandcastles. Rest, relax, reflect. Collect seashells. Bare-feet required.” – Unknown Author
The beach and candlelight go together so beautifully. The following are some of our favourite ideas for beach-inspired candle decorations:
The first candle decoration idea is a DIY Oyster Shell Tealight Candles (see above image on the left-hand side). These unique DIY candles are the perfect beach accent to disperse around the venue.
The next candle decoration could not be easier to make, and you can find everything you need to replicate this at a local craft or dollar store (see image above in the centre position). Using three glass vases of varying heights, carefully fill the base of each with rocks. Next, pour water until the vase is 3/4 full and place a floating candle on top of the water.
For the frame base, fill an empty picture frame with sand and place the vases on top. Accent the display by leaning a starfish against the vases.
We love this beach lantern decoration idea to add some magical lighting to a celebration of life (see image above on the right-hand side). All you need are some lanterns, flame-less candles, sand, and assorted shells to create this stunning display.
Lastly, here are some beach-inspired wreaths that would also make a stunning celebration of life decorations:
Each of the wreath pictured above uses a combination of flowers, shells, greenery and branches in their designs/
You can follow this DIY shell wreath tutorial to create your own or consult a local florist to see if they can help you create a piece like this.
Feel free to personalize the wreath to create a keepsake wreath. You can add little mementos that remind you of your loved one to display on the wreath. This wreath can also serve as a keepsake for after the celebration of life to hang in your home.
Celebration of Life Guest Book
Guest books are relatively common to see at a celebration of life. Guests are invited to sign the guest book and share special memories about the deceased or offer uplifting words to the family. It can be exceptionally comforting to read these messages and reflect on how many people’s lives your loved one touched.
You might wish to stick with a traditional style for the guest book. There are some lovely beach themed guest books you can purchase online for the celebration of life.
Many guest books that you can order online also allow you to personalize the cover of the guest book with your loved one’s name and photo.
You could also decide to put a creative spin on the typical celebration of life guest book by considering one of these less traditional options.
If you live near the ocean, scour the beach for some medium sized seashells and have each guest sign a shell in place of a guest book (see image below on the far left). If you don’t live by the ocean, you can purchase shells at your local craft store. If you’re using seashells from the beach, make sure to clean them properly before you use them.
Another guest book idea would be to instruct guests to leave a message in a bottle for your loved one (see image below; top-centre). Instruct guests to write a special note to your loved one to roll up, tie it with a ribbon and place it inside a bottle.
If your loved one was a fan of sailing or being out on his or her boat, an anchor might make an appropriate guest book alternative. You can purchase a large, wooden anchor that you can then have guests sign with a permanent marker (see image below; top-right).
Have you ever heard of sea glass? Sea glass begins as bottles and other types of glass that get tossed on the shore, broken, and then tumbled smooth by the waves and currents. The result is this beautiful physically and chemically treated glass. You can easily purchase decorative sea glass online to use as your guest book where each guest can sign a piece of sea glass with a gold metallic sharpie (see image below; bottom-right).
Celebration of Life Boards
Creating a highly personalized, unique, and celebratory ceremony to honour the life of someone we love is the future of funerals, and a celebration of life board is a fitting addition to this kind of ceremony.
Personalized celebration of life boards both honour your loved one’s life and provide guests with more insight into your loved one’s unique and eventful life by highlighting special moments, significant milestones, and treasured memories.
When putting together a celebration of life board to honour your loved one, you can stick to the traditional poster board memory board (see examples below in the bottom-left and bottom-right), or you can put a unique spin on it by creating a photo clothesline (like the example below in the top-right) or a hanging net photo display (like the example below in the top-left).
For the net display, use a push pin or fishing line to tie the top corners of the net to a doorframe or post to hang. Fasten photos to the net with clothespins or by weaving tie elements into the netting.
Regardless of the style that you decide to follow, the first thing you need to do is decide on what photos you want to use to create your celebration of life board. Since the idea is to share snapshots of your loved one’s life, you want to try to find photos of your loved one at different ages of his or her life from childhood onward.
You don’t need to handle this project alone! You’ll probably discover that family members and friends will be eager to assist you and provide you with photos of your loved one that you may have never even seen before. This collaboration will also give you a more comprehensive representation of your loved one’s life.
Make an event of it by inviting friends and family over to help you select photos for the memory board. Ask them to locate possible images beforehand, and plan an evening where you go through them together and pick your favourites for the board.
Let them know that you are planning a service around a beach theme so they can be on the lookout for any photos they have of your loved one that also tie into this theme (for example playing on the beach as a child etc.) This exercise can also be incredibly cathartic!
You’ll also need a few craft supplies to really bring together your celebration of life board. It would be helpful to label each image with the date or year it was taken. If you don’t remember the exact date, a rough guess that says something like “circa 1975” or the approximate age of your loved one provides your guests with some context.
You can look for labels that tie into the beach theme or use blank adhesive labels. You can hunt for more decorative labels at your local craft store.
You can also add elements like seashells, paint, glitter, coloured paper, or other meaningful personal mementos such as medals, ticket stubs or certificates that your loved one collected to decorate your board.
You’ll also need a poster display board if you’re planning on creating a traditional celebration of life board. You can purchase a 48-by-36-inch paper poster board from a local office-supply store or art store. You can also order it online from Amazon. You don’t want to go much smaller than this as it will restrict the space you have for photos.
You can use other types of boards, including foam display boards, easel-pad sheets, cork board, dry-erase boards, corrugated cardboard, magnetic boards, or even pieces of plywood cut to size as the base of your traditional celebration of life board.
If you want to create a clothesline board, you’ll need hemp string, small clothespins (you can purchase these at Amazon or a local craft store), glue and scissors. You might also be interested in making a framed clothesline board, and you’ll also need to purchase a photo frame.
It might be difficult to find one photo frame large enough to display all the photos you want to so you can purchase multiple frames to create a display with a variety of different frames. Learn how to make your own DIY clothesline photo frame here.
Celebration of Life Posters
You can also choose to include a celebration of life poster to display a large photo of your loved one.
Funeral Prints has an assortment of customizable 36″ by 24″ celebration of life service posters that you can purchase to display at your loved one’s ceremony.
They have a collection of beautiful beach and water backgrounds that would be perfect for a beach themed celebration of life. You could select one of these backgrounds, or you could choose one of their other beautiful backgrounds and then choose a photo of your loved one on the beach to reinforce the beach theme.
Here are a few examples of the posters that you can order through Funeral Prints (easel not included). Many venues have easels to lend you for your memorial event, or you can purchase one on Amazon.
Funeral Prints is always willing to help their customers further personalize their posters.
If you send Funeral Prints the file to the background image that you’d like to use for your poster background along with the photo of your loved one you wish to feature, they will help you customize your poster display at no extra charge.
Be aware of copyright when searching for a background image you want to use for your beach themed celebration of life poster. Luckily there are tons of beautiful royalty free images on sites like Pixabay and Pexels that you can download and use for free.
Here are a few free stock photos you could use for your background. You can download these royalty free images to use in your design from Pixabay. From left to right: Shoreline Cliffs Background, Seaside and Seashell Background and Ocean Background.
Celebration of Life Table Decorations
Elements straight from the beach, with a little imagination, can be transformed into stunning table decor for the celebration of life.
Are you planning a sit-down meal for your guests? If so, there will likely be one large table or several smaller tables that could use some centrepieces to bring your celebration of life beach theme to life.
We are obsessed with these table decoration ideas for centrepieces and table settings in the image below.
Oyster shells can create stunning centrepieces, with a little imagination. The first example in the image below is an oyster shell table garland that can be purchased, ready to use, from Etsy for between $100.00 and $320.00 CAD, depending on the length of garland you require (it comes in 3ft, 5ft, 6ft or 8ft). (See image below on the left-hand side).
The table setting itself is also an opportunity to emphasize the beach theme. Adding simple elements like rope napkin rings, rope placemats, and decorative starfish to the table settings can bring the beach theme to life (see examples in the image below; top-centre).
Another centrepiece idea involves mixing a combination of decorative coral, tall taper candles and halved fresh coconuts across the dinner table. The result is an easy, yet elegant looking beach themed table (see image below; top-right).
With a different colour palette than the previous example, this table setting is another example of how decorative starfish and nautical rope details can create a beach vibe when used in a table setting for a celebration of life meal (see image below; bottom-left).
If you live near the beach, you’ve probably noticed driftwood wash up on the shore. Why not make a stunning table centrepiece with this image as inspiration? You can buy craft ready driftwood online or use a piece you’ve found and cleaned correctly to use as your centrepiece. Then, you can accent the display by arranging an assortment of succulents, air plants, and sea glass around the driftwood, like the example below on the bottom-middle.
Finally, you can choose to serve your celebration of life meal of beach inspired dinner plates like the ones in the example below on the bottom-right.
You may also wish to have a memorial table where guests will sign a guest book. You can decorate this table to be an ode to your loved one. Display a variety of his or her favourite beach items such as a beach umbrella, seashells they’ve collected over the years, an old mask and snorkel or a collection of books they read on the beach. And of course, flowers.
These are a few additional ideas for elements to add to decorate your celebration of life tables.
Celebration of Life Food
When considering the celebration of life food to serve at a reception meal, there are a couple of things to consider.
Firstly, consider if you will be hosting a large number of people or whether you only need to worry about food for a small group of family and friends.
For a larger celebration of life receptions, it might make more sense to hire a caterer to take care of all of your food needs. You can arrange to have the food delivered to the venue after the celebration of life ceremony when everyone is ready to eat.
If you’re having a more intimate event, it might make more sense to take care of your food needs yourself.
However, before you commit to taking care of the food needs yourself, you also want to consider the venue you’ve decided on for the location of your loved one’s celebration of life.
For example, if you’re planning to have the celebration of life reception on the beach and plan on making the food yourself, your food options will be more limited than if you had access to a kitchen. (But not impossible, we’ve curated some beach-friendly dishes below!) Hiring a caterer, in this case, might make the most sense, depending on your guest count, as it eliminates the logistical issues of serving a crowd without access to a kitchen.
If you are planning on preparing the food for your loved one’s celebration of life yourself, we’ve curated some of the best recipes that would make delicious options for the celebration of life food.
We’ve separated this section by different types of food options that you might be interested in including at your loved one’s celebration of life. From beach-friendly dishes to one bite canapés, to family-style meals and tasty desserts – we’ve got your taste buds covered.
They may look intimidating, but these recipes are all super easy so that even if you’re not the most comfortable cook in the kitchen, you’ll have no problem putting together these simple yet delicious dishes.
Beach-Friendly Recipes for a Reception on the Beach
These recipes were carefully selected based on the ingredients used, storage needs and serving temperature to ensure that your meal on the beach does not disappoint. If you’re planning to take care of the food needs for a celebration of life meal on the beach, these recipes are sure to be a hit.
Would a beach picnic be complete without a pasta salad? Pasta salad is the perfect beach friendly meal as most of them are served cold and can be prepped the day before. The longer a pasta salad has for the dressing to soak into the noodles, the more flavourful it will be. Just avoid adding fresh greens like spinach as they will wilt quickly if not eaten right away. This delicious Mexican Pasta Salad would make a perfect addition to a beach-friendly menu.
Next up, skewers! Not only are there endless combinations of vegetables, fruits, meats, and cheese that you can put together and call it a skewer, but they are a hands-off (meaning sand-free!) meal that’s also utensil-free, easy to eat, with next to no waste. You can also prep them ahead of time.
This Chicken Pesto Skewer is cooked ahead of time (in just 20 minutes) and is served cold, so you don’t have to worry about the skewers getting cold (they’re meant to be that way!). For more skewer inspiration, both hot and cold, check out these 16 Summer Inspired Skewer Recipes.
It’s always nice to have finger food to snack on, especially at the beach. A beautiful charcuterie board with different cheeses, crackers, vegetables, fruits, nuts and dips can be an easy yet delicious addition to the food at a celebration of life.
You can cut the veggies, fruit, cheese and meats ahead of time and store them in Tupperware containers in the fridge, on the day of the celebration of life, transfer them into a cooler packed with ice and bring a serving board. You can then arrange the tray on the beach after the ceremony is complete and you are putting out the rest of the food.
There are so many options for elements to include on your charcuterie board. These pro tips for making a delicious charcuterie board are sure to help inspire some ideas.
Check out these 22 Pinwheel Roll-Up Recipes that are the perfect bite for the beach.
Don’t forget dessert! Cookies are a simple finger food to have at a celebration of life on the beach to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Now, you won’t hear us say this often, but we recommend avoiding anything chocolate to prevent a melty mess like a good old-fashioned Oatmeal Raisin or Snickerdoodle cookie.
Canapes for the Celebration of Life Reception
If you are planning a smaller celebration of life, or wish to have some appetizers available for guests before the sit-down dinner, these beach-inspired one-bite appetizers would make a perfect addition to the menu.
Making individual bite-sized appetizers can often take more time than making one family-style meal, which is why we recommend not taking this on yourself if you are planning on having a large number of guests attend.
Of course, if you choose to have your loved one’s celebration of life at a restaurant or plan to have it catered, they will take care of your appetizer needs.
This first appetizer idea is inspired by the ocean featuring fresh crab as the star ingredient. These Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms can be made the day before and baked just before you’re planning to serve them making them an easy recipe to include in the celebration of life food menu.
Another delicacy of the sea is highlighted in this next appetizer. These Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Scallops are a sweet and salty spin on this classic appetizer.
You can never go wrong by serving a crab cake. These Mini Crab Cake Bites are super easy to make and are a great prep ahead canape. The roasted red pepper aioli can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and the crab cakes through to step 3 in this recipe can be made up to 4 hours in advance.
You can’t get more beach-themed with food than these Flip-Flop Mini Sandwiches. Shape sandwiches of your choice using a footprint cookie cutter and use vegetables like peppers and carrots to replicate the look of flip-flop straps.
This Mini Shrimp Cocktail recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Served cold, these mini shrimp cocktails can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Next up, this Smoked Salmon, Dill & Caper Crostini features the classic combinations of smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and capers on top a piece of crusty, toasted bread.
Finally, this Cucumber & Smoked Salmon Canape recipe is super simple yet ridiculously delicious. There are only four ingredients in this appetizer making this fresh and light canape ready in less than 10 minutes. In this recipe, fresh cucumber is topped with velvety cream cheese, and smoked salmon garnished with fresh dill.
Desserts for the Celebration of Life Reception
A meal just doesn’t feel complete without something sweet!
These Almond Sand Dollar Cookies are the perfect sweet treat to include in a beach themed celebration of life. These whimsical cookies use almond slices to mimic the design you find on a sand dollar.
How gorgeous is this Mermaid Candy Bark? This recipe could not be any easier, and this mermaid bark can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to be enjoyed.
These adorable Beach Ball Doughnuts are the perfect beach themed dessert. All you need is doughnut batter, a few drops of food colouring, and the proper doughnut baking tin. This recipe also includes a helpful video tutorial that you can use to follow along.
Have you ever seen sea glass? This Sea Glass Candy is a tasty and edible homage to beach treated glass. A beautiful and delicious treat to include at a beach-themed celebration of life.
Finally, cupcakes are the most versatile dessert idea. Make these beach-themed cupcakes featuring light blue buttercream frosting topped with a chocolate seashell. You can use your favourite go-to cupcake recipe or follow one of these delicious cupcake recipes.
Sit-Down Meal for the Celebration of Life Reception
If you’ve decided on a restaurant or hiring a caterer for your reception meal, then all your food needs will already be taken care of by the restaurant.
If you are hosting a reception meal for a small group (i.e. less than 30 people) and are a reasonably confident cook, you may decide you want to take care of the food for the reception meal yourself. These delicious recipes are sure to inspire ideas for dishes to include in your meal.
In this case, we recommend serving a celebration of life reception meal “family-style” as it is a much easier way to serve a crowd. Family-style just means serving large dishes where everyone then takes their portion from the main dish.
When it comes to selecting recipes, keep it simple! You want to be able to be fully present during this special event. Therefore selecting simple, delicious dishes that involve little supervision or can be prepared ahead of time will reduce stress and allow you to partake in the event.
You want to make sure that you include a variety of dishes such as the main dish, a few side dishes and some salads in your family-style meal.
If you’re looking for ideas for some family-style dishes, we’ve curated recipes that are simple to make, can be prepped ahead of time and are sure to be a hit with your guests in the following three sections. Just make sure that you adjust the recipe to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting.
The first thing you think of when you think of food and the beach is seafood! For this reason, many of these recipes feature seafood in some way. However, if you or your guests are not fond of seafood, these main dish recipes can easily swap out for a different protein.
Although a traditional stove-top risotto isn’t necessarily difficult to make, it does require you to be attentive during the cooking process and stir constantly. This level of oversight is not ideal when you want to be able to be a part of the celebration of life events.
Thankfully, this Creamy Lemony Pressure Cooker Risotto recipe lets the pressure cooker (or an Instant Pot!) do all the heavy lifting for you with no need for constant stirring. Ready in 45 minutes, this risotto is the perfect recipe to make for a crowd. Just make sure to adjust the recipe based on the number of guests you are serving.
No meal transforms you to the beach quite like a delicious fish taco. This Blackened Fish Taco recipe with refreshingly sweet and tangy pineapple, cucumber slaw and addictive avocado crema is easy-to-make and healthy. The best part? All the elements that make up this dish can be prepped ahead of time. Do all the prep work beforehand and when you are getting ready to serve dinner, fry your fish for 6 minutes and serve!
Finally, this Honey Dijon Glazed Salmon recipe is quick and easy to make and packed with flavour. Ready in 20 minutes with minimal prep work to be done, this bright fish dish would make a fitting main dish for a beach themed celebration of life meal. Not a fan of salmon? Swap out the protein in this dish for chicken breasts.
This Sauteed Asparagus recipe features tender asparagus stalks cooked in butter, garlic and an assortment of herbs. This 10-minute side dish perfectly pairs with chicken, fish, pasta and seafood – making it the perfect side dish for a celebration of life reception meal.
Just six simple ingredients make up this classic Scalloped Potato recipe including Yukon potatoes, cheese, butter, garlic, onion, thyme, and a creamy sauce made of a roux of flour, butter, milk and stock. This recipe is the perfect comfort food side dish and can be made up to 3 days before the celebration of life meal and stored in the fridge. 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the meal, pop the scalloped potatoes in the oven and heat through.
These mouth-watering Garlic Butter Shrimp With Lime and Cilantro are the perfect side to serve family style. With only a few ingredients, 5 minutes of cooking time and 15 minutes of prep, this recipe comes together very quickly and is packed with flavour.
This Quick Summer Tuna Pasta Salad recipe has just seven ingredients and can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. You can choose whatever pasta you like; however, we’d recommend a noodle such as shell-shaped pasta instead of long noodles such as linguini as it’s easier to serve family-style. Shell pasta also fits perfectly into the beach theme!
Not a fan of tuna? Easily swap it out for salmon, chicken or shrimp.
When you think about the beach, you immediately think of summer — the two go hand in hand. So next up we have a summery Strawberry and Mango Salad. You can prepare the dressing and cut the fruit in advance, so you just need to toss the ingredients together, sprinkle some feta cheese, toasted almonds and drizzle it with the ginger vinaigrette when you are ready to serve.
This fresh and healthy Edamame Salad With Cilantro Lime Dressing is a takes just 20 minutes to prepare, and most of this time is dicing the vegetables, which can be done in advance and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. A quick, easy and colourful addition to the celebration of life meal.
Lastly, this Summer Peach Salad With Pistachios combines the sweetness of sun-ripened stone fruit with peppery arugula and fresh basil for an unbeatable flavour combo. It’s also refreshing, light and comes together quickly, making it an ideal addition to the celebration of life food menu.
Celebration of Life Gifts
The rising trend of celebrations of life demonstrates that more and more people want their end-of-life ceremony to be a celebration of their life, rather than a mourning of their death.
Giving guests celebration of life gifts is a way that you can express your gratitude to friends and family for helping with the service (e.g. food and flowers). You can choose to give gifts only to particular people who were particularly thoughtful or generous, or you can provide gifts for everyone. (It’s totally up to you to decide what’s appropriate.)
The following are some unique ideas for a beach themed celebration of life gift that you can offer guests.
In honour of a life that truly sparkled, give the gift of sparklers as a celebration of life gift. You can purchase personalized celebration of life sparklers on Etsy, like the first example on the left below. Include your loved one’s name and something clever like “Let love sparkle” on the personalized card-stock holding the sparklers (see image below on the left-hand side).
You can even plan to incorporate this gift into the ceremony by having a sparkler send-off in memory of your loved one after sunset.
This next idea is sweet and simple (quite literally). These chocolate sea shells are a perfect gift to provide guests that beautifully tie into the beach theme. You can find boxes of seashell shaped chocolates at a lot of grocery stores and our personal favourites by Guylian are available for purchase on Amazon (see image below; top-middle).
Buy a few boxes of chocolates, some cellophane party bags from the dollar store and include a little personalized note that says your loved one’s name on it to put inside the bag (see image below; bottom-middle).
You can also make these adorable miniature beach pail candles would make a perfect take-home gift. You can attach a little tag with a thoughtful poem that reminds you of your loved one or that says “In Memory of [Deceased’s Name].” You can find tiny metal beach pails on Amazon (see image below; top-left).
Instead of focusing on having the gift itself tie into the beach theme, you can always choose to wrap the celebration of life gifts in something beach inspired. You can purchase mini burlap gift bags from Amazon and use a stencil and fabric paint to add whatever beach-inspired design you wish (see example in the image below; bottom-middle).
Fill little glass jars with Edible Sea Glass Candy for a colourful, beachy celebration of life gift. You can include a label on each jar that says “In Memory of [Deceased’s Name], a short quote about the beach or a thoughtful sentiment that reminds you of your loved one (see image below; bottom-right).
Celebration of Life Keepsakes
Keepsakes should be offered to all the guests attending the celebration of life. A celebration of life keepsake gives guests a tangible memento to remember your loved one.
While the celebration of life gift ideas would also make a beautiful celebration of life keepsake, it might not be feasible to make one of these crafts for each guest you are expecting. In this case, you could consider ordering printed celebration of life keepsakes.
Funeral Prints offers a few different types of printed celebration of life keepsakes, including personalized prayer cards (see image below, left and right sides); and commemorative bookmarks (centre image).
Find more businesses that provide unique celebration of life products by Searching our Business Directory.
Memorial cards are a beautiful way to provide guests with a tangible keepsake in memory of your loved one. They are small cards that can feature a devotional photo and a special poem, verse, or prayer in honour of your loved one.
Memorial cards can be given at visitations, wakes, funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life to provide guests with a tangible keepsake in memory of your loved one. They can also be mailed to loved ones who will be unable to travel to attend the celebration of life.
There are many places online to customize, order and print memorial cards for your loved one’s celebration of life. When you’re looking for a funeral printing service, it’s best to find a reputable company with experience working with memorial cards. They will be sensitive to the fact that you are grieving and therefore may require some extra assistance. They will also understand the need for quick printing and shipping.
Funeral Prints is a funeral printing service that specializes in helping families remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives with printed keepsakes.
This reputable company has an extensive collection of hundreds of beautiful memorial cards that you can easily customize and order directly through its affordable online portal.
Funeral Prints offers standard prayer cards (2.5″ x 4.25″) that are printed on 120# glossy paper and can be personalized by adding your loved one’s name, his or her birth and death dates, a photo, and a prayer or poem you’d like to feature.
You can also choose to add some premium features to a standard memorial card (e.g. lamination & rounded corners, standard gloss or velvet finish, or gold foil) at an additional charge.
Funeral Prints was kind enough to send us some samples of their finished products and we were blown away by the quality of their printing. The gold foil lettering is beautiful and well worth the additional charge, in our opinion. The velvet finish also offers a nice, tactile finish.
Here’s an example of the front and back view of a standard memorial card design from Funeral Prints. The template used in this example is called “Purple Field”:
Funeral Prints offers a variety of scenic, sports-themed, religious, and military-themed memorial cards.
The following examples are some of our favourite scenic memorial card templates. On the back side of the card is where you would customize the template with a prayer, poem, quote, and photo of your loved one. From left to right: Purple Field; Hummingbird; River Rocks.
You might consider using the memorial card to commemorate some other aspect about your loved one’s personality, such as a love for a particular sport.
If you’re celebrating the life of a loved one who served in the military, you could consider a memorial card that pays tribute to this service. These military memorial card templates would make a beautiful keepsake to honour a military veteran. From left to right: Soldier Saluting; Final Honors; Cross Military Cemetery.
Finally, if your loved one was religious and you wish to incorporate a religious element into your loved one’s celebration of life, one of Funeral Print’s spiritual or Catholic memorial cards might be appropriate.
Funeral Prints’ Catholic memorial card templates feature iconic images in the Catholic faith such as the Virgin Mary, Saint Francis of Assisi, and the crucifix. These beautiful Catholic memorial card designs would make a fitting choice. From left to right: St. Anne; Mystical Rose; St. Francis.
Funeral Prints also offers premium memorial cards that are slightly larger than the standard card (3″ x 4.75″) and include lamination and rounded corners in the price. All premium memorial cards also already come with gold foil lettering.
Here’s an example of the front and back view of a premium memorial card from Funeral Prints. The template is an example of a custom card that you can have made in honour of your loved one. It also gives you an idea of what the gold foil lettering would look like:
Here are some of our favourite premium memorial cards. On the reverse side, you can customize the template with a prayer, poem, quote and/or photo of your loved one. From left to right: Depth of Life; Smile; Do Not Be Afraid; Love Is.
Have a particular customized design in mind for your loved one’s memorial cards? You can easily create a completely custom memorial card by choosing the “custom template” option.
If you have any question or need some technical assistance, contact Funeral Prints today and they will be happy to help you create your custom memorial cards at no additional charge.
Celebration of Life Tribute Video
A celebration of life can truly be a joyous occasion. Of course, there will be some element of sadness because that special person is no longer with you, but it can be an incredible time reflecting on that special person. For this reason, all the wonderful memories shared of your loved one would be wonderful to capture on video since everybody will be gathered in one location.
SpeechBooth is an innovative company that will take care of all of your video recording needs by shipping a complete recording kit to anywhere in the USA and Canada. You can easily order a kit online today, and you’ll receive everything you will need to capture all of those precious memories, funny anecdotes and heartfelt words shared about your loved one at his or her celebration of life.
SpeechBooth has made sure to make the process as easy for you as possible. The recording kit sets up in just a few minutes and after the conclusion of your loved one’s celebration of life, send SpeechBooth your video footage, and they will edit together a professional video for you and the other guests to treasure.
More Celebration of Life
Did you know that Love Lives On has a comprehensive library of articles that will help you plan a memorable celebration of life for your loved one?
Here are some other popular posts on our website to help you with the planning process:
- Best examples to inspire you when writing a eulogy
- 100+ celebration of life ideas
- 200+ best funeral songs
- 50+ of the best gospel songs and gospel hymns
- How to make a DIY real flower wreath with ribbon
- How to make an in memory keepsake wreath
- 10+ popular celebration of life flowers and their meanings
- 39 best celebration of life reception invitation templates
- Search our business directory for local vendors to help plan a celebration of life
It Helps to Share…
If you’re planning a celebration of life, please ask your funeral director if he or she is familiar with Love Lives On’s exclusive “A Fitting Farewell” series.
Let him or her know that you’d like to recreate our beach themed celebration of life service, appropriately named: A Fitting Farewell for A Love Deeper than the Ocean.
If you were inspired by our beach-themed celebration of life ideas, or have additional ideas you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments box below! We always love hearing from our readers.