Modern Funerals: 7 Tips On Personalization, Festivalization, & Meaningful Event Design

At funeralOne, we’re on a mission to transform what the world thinks of a funeral.

As a profession, our ability to engage with today’s families is directly related to how well we can adjust to changes in customer needs. In order to do this, we must revamp the way funeral services have been held for many generations. As times change, we must change with them… or get left behind. 

So, how do we refresh the way people envision funeral services, and embrace the modernization of funerals? 

Here are a few tips from Richard Aaron, President of the Aaron Group, who also shares this sentiment:


Tip #1: Find new ways to honor traditions

As much as we want to honor tradition and appeal to conservative values, we must also be open to redesigning the occasion to suit the desires of today’s families. Sometimes this takes the form of direct requests, and other times it can mean ensuring the family has the time and space to be present in their emotions.

Read More: Families Share Why They Choose Cremation Over Traditional Funerals


Tip #2: Offer an immersive experience

One of the best ways we can serve our client families is by providing them an immersive, unique experience. Immersion means removing the participant from reality and replacing them in one of your design. With advances in virtual reality (VR) technology, near-total immersion is becoming easier to offer than ever before. 

Participants can wear a headset/headphones to block out sound and sights from their immediate surroundings and they will receive sensory stimuli through the headset. It could be a cool new addition to immersing your families into the life and times of their loved one!

Read More: Consumer Truths Driving the Future of the Funeral Experience

Tip #3: Try your hand at festivalization

You’re probably wondering, “What IS festivalization?!” Festivalization refers to the approach to event design in which spectators are plunged into an extravagant affair reminiscent of a multi-day music festival. The younger generation is becoming increasingly enthralled by excitement-driven events that capitalize the experience over all else. While we cannot expect to make every funeral service a bungee jumping, music festival-level party, we can take notes from the presentation and execution of these events. 

Offering something to stimulate the audience’s senses gives the event staying power in their minds. Aaron recalls a particular funeral service that was held in a vineyard and included a wine tasting, a favorite hobby of the deceased. Those in attendance were able to celebrate their loved one, while indulging in something they would have strongly associated with the person already.

Read More: 6 Places To Source Inspiration for Personalized Life Celebrations


Tip #4: Personalize, personalize, personalize

The methodical handling of loved ones after they have passed makes many people uncomfortable, especially when the funeral services that follow feel stale and impersonal. Personalizing tributes and offering engaging ways to recall the life of the departed is just one technique that can break the cycle of recycled funeral design.

Read More: 15 Facts On Funeral Personalization We Bet You Didn’t Know


Tip #5: Focus on the story

Turning the funeral service into a story and making the deceased into the story’s hero/heroine is another technique that shows promise. Following the traditional hero’s journey, tell a story about change, redemption, growth, love, and how the hero/heroine finds resolution in the end. Make your attendees characters in the story and make it relatable and familiar.

Using items that friends and family will associate with their loved one is a great way to spark conversation. Aaron recounts the use of balloons, a boat, and even a Coca-Cola can sitting on the casket as items that successfully drove participant engagement.

Read More: How To Bring Storytelling And Celebration Back Into The Funeral Home


Tip #6: Turn to weddings for inspiration

If you can do it at a wedding, you can do it at a funeral. It’s a good rule of thumb to go by when deciding on venues, catering, rental equipment and more. Nowadays, more families are choosing to spend more time with their family, friends and loved ones after passing, meaning the space and provisions will be different from traditional services. Boomers are leaning into these types of services that allow for more intimate, thoughtful experiences.

Read More: 8 Necessary & Non-Negotiable Shifts Happening Right Now In The Funeral Profession


Tip #7: Forget about comfort

Aaron notes, “if we get comfortable, we do not innovate” and we couldn’t agree more! But innovation requires the work and creativity of forward-thinking funeral directors. Modern funeral design is far removed from its static predecessor, so the more we can think outside of the box, the better our range will become as we serve the needs of a more diverse group of clients. “You are not just funeral directors,” Aaron says. “You are the architects of storytelling, collaborations artists, experience designer.”


Make sure your website matches your vision

Does your funeral home website match your funeral home’s adaptability and new approach to funerals? Don’t fall behind on your website design. Reach out to one of our Funeral Website Success Specialists and get some advice on creating an epic funeral home website by clicking here, or give us a call at (800) 798-2575.

How are you embracing the modernization of funerals at your funeral home? Tell us in the comments below!

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