MEMORIAL SERVICE LOGISTICS
The Memorial Service Logistics are the basic infra-structure to getting the Memorial service right: Where is the best to have the service for you (indoors or outdoors?) Parking arrangements, how many guests/attendees to have and the minimum facilities you need for you and your guests.
One of the first things to do is create a ’Spreadsheet’ or rule-off an A4 note pad. List all the things to be sorted. The list can be long. A tick-box or description box for notes is a good idea next to each entry. This will let you know at-a-glance what has been arranged, to be arranged or even what needs more work on. The more ticks you make, the more the plan is coming together.
As a Funeral Celebrant and especially organizing Memorial services, using a detailed spreadsheet is fundamental to being organized and thus not missing any element. From uncomplicated, relatively straight-forward services where even the simplest of things or items cannot be ‘missed-out’ a spreadsheet is essential. With more complex Memorial Services (for example, large number of guests and logistics, lots of activities going on, multiple speakers, and so forth) without a detailed ‘road-map’ things can easily go wrong and things get missed out.
The Venue / Location
There are many types or varieties of indoor Venues you can hold a Memorial service in. It is an idea to reflect the personality or the character of the person the memorial Service is for. If he/she did not drink, it may not be appropriate to hold a Service in a Brewery, Distillery, or pub.
If he or she was a film buff, loved movies and the cinema, it could be a real treat and a new experience for many of the attendees to plan to hold the Memorial Service at a Film Studio (which there are many in the UK).
Instead of a Film studio, why not a film location; perhaps where one of his/her favourite (British) films was shot. With a few props, almost anywhere can be transformed into a film set.
Venues for example (this is not an exhaustive list):
- At ‘home’ – yours, a family member or a friend’s
- Arenas (conference and side rooms)
- Art Gallery
- Bowling Alleys
- Clubs and Societies’ meeting rooms
- Circus tent
- Conference centres
- Country Houses / Estates
- English Heritage Homes
- Film Studios
- Football, Rugby etc., Ground
- Formula One Racetrack
- Gardens (botanical and so forth)
- Mansion Houses
- Meeting Rooms
- Piers, end of
- Racecourses and Racetracks
- Social Clubs (Labour/Conservative/Working Mans’ etc)
- Sports Hall or venue (any sport)
- Stately homes
- Theme Parks
- Village Halls
The British Weather
For Outdoor venues, the UK has so many beautiful and great locations to choose from. Naturally, one thing we all will have to face in organizing an outdoor event is the British weather. Our weather at the best of times can be unpredictable.
This should not put you off organizing and outdoor Memorial Service, it just means extra facilities may have to be sought, gathered, and brought to the service (Umbrellas, Gazebos, rain wear, blankets and so on and so forth). It is a matter of thinking ahead and planning the Memorial Service Logistics - everything (or most things) you could or possibly need.
Outdoors, venues could include:
- Boat (Paddle steamer, Yacht, Ferry)
- Botanical Gardens
- Country Game Shows
- Food Festivals
- Forest / woodland
- Garden – your garden (or family/friend’s garden. Hire a garden)
- Hill, on a
- Horse racing track
- Lakes and Lochs
- National Trust
- Marquee – in a beautiful setting
- Mountain, on a
- Music Festival
- Stadium (Sports ground)
Planning the Memorial Service Logistics for each venue will be different; all needing different things and approaches. Specific visits to potential venues / locations not just to admire the scenery, but to have clear objectives in finding out everything you need to know about your Memorial Service Logistics for that venue or location is vitally important.
How many guests should I invite to a Memorial Service?
One of the first questions more precisely should be, ‘How many guests/attendees do I wish to have?’
Answering this question will then indicate the type, size of venue and room-size you need. Some venues will offer the room free-of-charge if their bar is used and, or their catering services are used.
Weighing-up what you would like, and the total costs in line with your budget (if you have set one) will indicate which way to go. A spreadsheet with the costs, services, facilities and everything that 'costs' will make it a lot easier.
What if I already know how many guests i must invite?
If you know from the outset how guests you must invite, you can eliminate certain sizes or locations of venues. Depending on the number of guests/attendees, this can be limiting or liberating in the choice of venue you select.
Knowing the number of guests/attendees prior to any searching, conversations you may have, can save a lot of time and potential venue problems. A know-before-you-go scenario. However, the other side to the coin is, if you know how many guests you MUST invite (as opposed to how many you would like to invite), financially this may perhaps limit the venue you select, the food/drink you would like to offer as well as logistical items
Symbolic To Your Loved One
Where did they spend the happiest times of their life? Which place or location did they feel the most comfortable in or enjoyed the most? What place or location symbolises him/her?
Were they a ‘beach’ person, an outdoor sports person, or an indoors person? This may help narrow-down a location or theme. The Memorial Service Logistics will also have a bearing on the location you choose.
There are the practical and logistical considerations to be thought of. If you live in, for example Birmingham (a land-locked location close enough to the centre of England) getting to a beach, the Channel or the sea could be a huge trek for some or even everyone. Hiring a coach is an idea, but suddenly the costs will go up substantially. A compromise location may have to be sought.
Where Are Your Attendees Located?
Would they be prepared to travel to a location chosen by you (or would the politely decline because of the distance or even cost of getting there)? Is the location practicable for all attendees – access for wheelchairs, older folk, disabled people, push chairs and so on.
Budget, time, accessibility for all and focussing on the important aspects are the keys to getting ‘it right’. As a Funeral Celebrant and Planner, getting the venue ‘right’ is a highly important factor. Once the venue has been chosen and a known number of attendees (within reason) the rest of the planning can be straight forward.
Number of guests / attendees
Calculating how many people will attend the Memorial service is not always an easy task. However, it is a vital job that must be done early on in the planning stage. Choosing the wrong size venue has a knock-on effect for:
- It may not be possible to scale-up or even scale-down if the wrong size venue or room is chosen. Too few people in a huge room or conversely too many people crammed into a small room may not be a comfortable experience especially if it is a hot day or in winter if the heating is on full blast.
- Parking – enough car spaces? See below
- Seating arrangements – are there enough chairs for the lay-out you wish to have?
- Catering (are you planning to serve food/buffet/meal in the same room or building)?
- Bar and drinks – as above
Ideally parking should be free and within a short walking distance of the venue or location. Guests and attendees won’t thank you if they have to feed a parking meter, pay car parking fees, and then walk miles to the venue!
Some questions to think about:
- How many guests are you expecting that need to drive to the venue?
- Are there enough car spaces at the venue? If not, are there alternatives where they can park?
- How far is the nearest car park?
- Is the alternative free parking?
- Are there disabled parking spaces? (if needed)
Toilets and more
Part of your Memorial Service Logistics may be to ask, does the room, venue or location have toilet (restroom) facilities? Most venues will, but not all - especially outdoor venues. It is worth checking. With toddlers, young children and older folk, this is quite an important consideration.
Are there facilities for the disabled – ramps, toilets, wide-enough doors for wheelchairs and so forth? Most public venues should have these, but it is not required by law.
Where are the toilets located?
Are the toilets on the same floor as the room or on a different floor? Are they close-by or ‘quite a distance’ from the room you are all in? This naturally will affect the older generation and those that need to frequent the toilets quite often.
As well as finding out this information for your Memorial Service Logistics spreadsheet, if the toilets are not easily located, a 'map' or diagram for people to locate the toilets may be an idea.
Are there only steps up into the building or are their walk ramps? Do you have any disabled guests or people using wheelchairs? Not all venues have wheelchair ramps or gangways.
Is the room on the first, second or higher floor or perhaps below ground - basement level? A venue with only stairs may not be ideal for the elderly, parents with babies or the disabled.
How many lifts and what size?
With a small capacity lift (and perhaps just one lift) and dozens and dozens of guests/attendees, it may take some time to get them all up (or down) to the venue room you have secured in a timely fashion.
The Memorial Service Logistics is a vital aspect of planning the day. Not only for making your guests / attendees feel comfortable and at ease, but for Health and Safety issues. An unfortunate aspect we all now face in this day-and-age. Vital to some and may be not to others. Your Memorial Service Logistics is not or should not be difficult to plan or implement.
Let's move on to SECTION THREE - The Room
Sections to The Ultimate and Complete Memorial Service Guide:
Section ONE - The Basics
Section TWO - The Logistics
Section THREE - The Room
Section FOUR - Equipment
Section FIVE - The Bar
Section SIX - Catering and Food
Section SEVEN - The Invitation
Section EIGHT - The Service
Section NINE - Decorations
Section TEN - Give-away, Take-Aways and Afterwards
Section ELEVEN - Memorial Service Summary