Memorial Service The Room

Memorial Service The Room - Chairs taken by Shameer PK

Memorial Service The Room - most venue rooms are pretty plain, ordinary and are designed to encompass all types of visitors for all types of events. They realise most people will decorate the room how they want it to be for their event or party – technically called a ‘four-wall hire’.

Creating the room ambiance you want,  can be an easy job – with a little planning and advance thought.

Here are some ideas to transform the room into the place you want it to be:

Memorial Service The Room -  DECORATION IDEAS

Ideas alphabetically discussed:

  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Fragrance; fill the room with fragrance
  • Remembrance Tables(s)

The Memorial Service The Room may just four be walls, but the 'stage' must be set and be inviting, interesting and exciting for guests to attend.  This includes:


The ritual of lighting a candle.
Since pagan times (around the fourth century)  the power of light by candle has had a great deal of symbolism. It can also be traced back to early Christianity.

In the bible Jesus is quoted as saying,

'When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” ' [John 8:12].

A candle known as a Paschal Candle (from the Aramaic word  pasḥā and the Hebrew word pesaḥ, meaning the passing over), is specifically lit for and during a funeral service.  It is placed near the coffin,  symbolising the deceased baptismal vows made, the hope for eternal life and salvation and faith in the resurrection of the dead. The wax of the candle represents the spotless body of Jesus, the candle’s wick his soul, and the burning flame symbolising the joining of the deceased with God to become one Divine person.

All faiths and cultures use candles to varying degrees. Even if you are not religious it is a beautiful symbolic way of remembering a loved one that has passed away.

Candles at a Memorial Service

A candle can be placed either in a Lantern (for safety) or in a candle holder. Candles are created in various sizes from votive to very large and dominating-size candles. The size of room and the effect you would like should dictate the size.

How many candles should I have at a Memorial Service?

Some venues may not allow any lit candles at all -  as they potentially pose a fire risk. Battery operated candles are generally accepted everywhere. If you want lit candles and have permission, the general rule is: less-is-more.  

Elegantly placed or arranged candles can say more than dozens and dozens of candles strewn all over the venue room. Silver, wooden and ceramic candle holders add a safety element and can look very attractive

Where to place a Memorial Candle

Ideas include:

  • At the entrance to the room as guests/attendees walk in.
  • On a table at the front for the room for all to see.
  • In a corner of the room on a table with perhaps a picture of the person that has passed away.
  • In front of the lectern.

Battery-operated, solar or electric candles

If the rules and regulations do not allow for naked flames to be present (for building fire and safety regulations), battery or if there is enough natural light into the room, solar power candles could be chosen. Some battery-operated candles flicker and can appear to be ‘real’. Some battery-operated candles simply light-up with an orange or yellow-coloured flame.

Can guests light a candle at the memorial service?

Each attendee can be given a battery-operated candle as they enter the room.  At a particular point in the service, each guest can light (switch-on) their candle and in turn get-up, walk, and place it on a designated table next to, for example a picture of your loved one or even next to their urn or casket. The symbolism can be enormous and very moving.

Instead of everyone in the room placing their candle on the table, the children, teenagers, or younger adults could be asked to do this instead. This may be an option if the attendance numbers are too great.

Personalized Memorial Candles

Candles can be bought almost anywhere these days.  However, candle makers can design, create, and make a candle to your specification.  There are many candle companies and candle makers online to choose from.  The design can be simple and plain through to ornate and very detailed.

These candles can be either lit at the service or kept as a keepsake.

Virtual Memorial Service Candles

In keeping with 21st century technology and the global community that is ever increasing, virtual candle lighting websites are becoming increasingly popular.

Virtual Memorial sites such as (and there are a lot more) allow you to place a message along with lighting a candle on-line. It is not a permanent burning candle, but like a real candle, it is meant to be reflective and burning for just a finite time.

How to perform a memorial Service Candle Lighting ceremony

At some point of the service and just after a relevant Poem or Reading has been read, with a tapered candle, let the closest person or persons (no more than two) to the person that has passed away slowly walk from the back of the room up to the Memorial Candle, pause and light it slowly and carefully.  Once lit,

  • The Celebrant will ask for a time of reflection (30-60 seconds of silence).
  • The Memorial candle lighters then return to their seats.
  • A Tribute or small speech can then be said (or read) by a member of the family or close friend. It would be more  of a solemn tribute than an amusing anecdote or light-hearted story.
  • Follow this by an uplifting piece of music.

This is just one method or idea.  The lighting of a Candle Ceremony can be adapted to how you would like it to be. As an example, the Candle lighters can say a few words when lighting the Candle if you/they wish. Younger children can follow behind the two candle lighters with battery-operated candles and place them on the table too.


What was his/her favourite flowers or flower colours?

Depending on the time of year for the memorial Service,  many gardeners would be thrilled to cut some of their flowers from their garden to decorate the room.  It is just a matter of asking.

If you know some who has a garden allotment and grows flowers, they might be happy to donate some flowers to you. It does not hurt to ask. If it is a reasonable request (and not ask to fill the whole building) most will oblige.

Holiday Flowers to remember

Where did they go on holiday during their life?  Perhaps there are particular flowers of a country that may evoke that country and memories:

Here is a small list of countries (50) and the flowers they are famous or known for (Most are the Official flower; the rest are flowers associated with that country/unofficial):

  • Australia -  The Wattle Flower
  • Austria – Edelweiss
  • Barbados – Dwarf Poinciana
  • Belgium – Red Poppy
  • Belize – Black Orchid
  • British Columbia – Pacific Dogwood
  • Canada – Maple Leaf
  • Caribbean islands (in general) – Hibiscus, Bougainvillea
  • England – Tudor Rose
  • Ethiopia – Calla Lily
  • Egypt – Lotus Flower
  • France – Fleur de Lis (Lily)
  • Germany - Cornflower
  • Greece – Bear’s Breech
  • Holland (The Netherlands)  – Tulips
  • Honduras - Orchid
  • Hong Kong – Orchid
  • Hungary – Tulip
  • Iceland – Mountain Avens
  • India – Lotus
  • Italy - Lily
  • Liberia – Pepper
  • Luxembourg – Rose
  • Monaco - Carnation
  • Morocco - Rose
  • Netherlands Antilles – Tulip
  • New Zealand – Silver Fern (Cyathea Dealbata)
  • Norway – Pyramidal Saxifrage
  • Pakistan - Jasmine
  • Poland – Red Poppy
  • Portugal - Lavender
  • Russia – Camomile
  • Saint Helena – Calla Lily
  • Scotland – Thistle
  • Slovakia – Japanese Rose
  • South Africa – Protea
  • Spain – Red Carnation
  • Sweden – Linnea
  • Switzerland - Edelweiss
  • Thailand - Ratchaphruek    
  • Tonga - Heilala
  • Trinidad & Tobago - Chaconia     
  • Turkey – Tulip
  • Ukraine – Sunflower
  • Uruguay – Ceibo Erythrina    
  • USA - Rose     
  • Virgin Islands – Yellow Trumpet
  • Wales – Daffodil
  • Yugoslavia – Lily of the Valley
  • Zimbabwe – Flame Lily

Remembrance Table(s)

Creating a beautiful table with remembrance items is a way to illustrate the life and character of the person that has passed away.  Cherished items that ‘made’ him or her the way she/he was, for example with photographs, hobby items, sports memorabilia, Books, scrapbooks and so forth – anything that reflects their life and personality.

When embarking on this, start with multiple ideas jotted down on a piece of paper at random.  This may take hours, days or even weeks to compile. Memories will not come to you at the same time (though the prominent ones will). Subconscious thoughts you overlooked on your initial enthusiasm will suddenly be apparent later on – “how did I miss his love of Bar-be-Cues – he cooked every weekend in the summer come rain or shine…”

An example, he was

  • An avid Football supporter
  • Loved going on holiday to foreign countries
  • Always watched Formula One on TV
  • Loved to take our dog for a walk every day
  • Loved to visit his local pub every Friday and Saturday

An example, she was

  • House proud and loved to vacuum every day
  • Loved her grandchildren
  • Had a set a daily routine for cooking every week (Monday, Tuesday…)
  • Loved her Cinzano and Lemonade drink
  • Loved pottering around in her garden

And so on and so forth.

How many items should I display on a Remembrance Memorial Service table?

As a general rule; just a few per table (but enough to ‘look like a nice display’ and be of interest). Select items or objects that represented him/her. A 'small' number of items is far better than a car-boot table of random items.

What is the best way to layout a Remembrance table?

A nice, clean, and ironed tablecloth is essential. I know that may sound daft to say, but it is a small detail that will make the table and the items on it look good and give a good impression.

Placing boxes under the tablecloth at the back of the table will raise the height and make the items on the table look more interesting -  a step effect. One or two boxes (depending on the size of box) of varying heights should be sufficient. A raised item draws attention or emphasizes that item making it stand-out. Create a focal-point object; a treasured object that you want people to look at first and is not too big.

The objects or possessions you wish to display will dictate the size of table.  Most venues have available, 4’, 5’ and 6’ rectangular tables. Banqueting tables tend to be 5’ or 6’ round – not ideal for displaying items.

How many Memories, Remembrance tables should I have?

The is no set rule to how many tables you should have.  The room size and shape will dictate where to place the tables and how many to have.

On the logistical side, at home (long before the Memorial Service) it may be a good idea to create a layout or design of where you would like the objects to sit on the table or tables. Visualizing the layout/design is no substitute for actually Playing with the design and seeing where to place objects; what size boxes to use under the tablecloth, which objects go with which, where to place small items and where to place larger items.  Which items do you really want to ‘show-off’ and what is the best way to do that?  When happy with the layout of the table – take a photo (or photos).

Create interest with an explanation

Label items; create a poster, a sign with quotes, a brief explanation on a piece of paper of what the items are and what it meant to him/her or even yourself.

Tell a story

A Football on a table may mean nothing to many people – apart from, he perhaps loved football.
Write a paragraph (hand-written or printed from a computer) saying, as an example,  

"This is the ball [NAME] loved to kick around with his Grandchildren, [Harry and Fred] every Sunday in the back garden.  He would cheat and score goals when [Harry and Fred] were not looking or distracted.  He looked forward every week to his day; it was a highlight of his week."

This small paragraph says more in terms of his character and love for his grandchildren than. ‘He loved football. Here is his ball.'

Another example.  A pile of Cookbooks and hand-written recipes along with a mixing bowl and perhaps some ingredients.

Mum loved to cook.  Her favourite pudding was Rhubarb and custard. She knew the recipe by heart.  We had to look it up every time we wanted to make it. We can see her hands in this mixing bowl carefully rubbing the butter, flour, and sugar to a beautiful blend.  She wasn’t an adventurous cook, but she did delve into these (her favourite) recipe books now and again to get ideas.  Her meals were amazing.  We miss them so much."

The day before or on the morning of the service, bring the boxed items you wish to display to the venue.  Retrieve the image you took and (perhaps) delegate someone to recreate the image you took.

Fill The Room With Fragrance

There is nothing more stimulating or evocative for memory-jogging than the smell, scent, or a pleasant fragrance wafting in the air. This can be achieved in the Memorial Service Room in several ways:

  • Fragrant flowers.
  • Scented Candles.
  • Oil bottles with sticks (reed diffusers).
  • Oil wax melts.
  • Gel room scents.
  • Sprays (aerosol) into the air.
  • Electric (plug-in to an electrical socket) automatic dispensers.
  • Perfume or aftershave – Have on a Remembrance Table the aftershave/ perfume of the person that has passed away.

The sense of smell is about the strongest sense we have as humans. From our early days and as a child we start to build a  memory bank of smells, fragrances, and scents.  As we move on in life we forget about those smells or aromas for perhaps decades. Then suddenly one day we get a whiff of a scent or an aroma. That one smell then immediately trigger or takes us right back to where we first encountered that scent. It  can evoke an instant and more-often-than-not a vivid and powerful memory.  Never underestimate the power of smell at a Memorial Service. It can bring back joyous times and memories, from a local bakery’s sweet aroma of freshly baked bread to a steam train you all went on for your childhood family holidays.

Where to get instant recalls

There are many outlets and retail stores selling all manner of great smelling ideas you can use;  from very inexpensive to ultra (designer) mind boggling pocket wrenching prices.

Some outlets sell ‘retro’ perfumes and scents. Almost any smell can be (and is) recreated.  Checking online should be your first port of call.

Too many smells or aromas in the air can lead to confusion.  The mingling of aromas together might not have the desired affect you are looking for and create something totally different to what you set out to achieve.

Let's move on to  SECTION FOUR - Equipment

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