In the past, most families chose to hold a more traditional funeral service after the death of a loved one.  However, this is changing in today’s society as cremation becomes a more popular choice and families choose to hold a more personalized memorial service or celebration of life.

The question often asked is what exactly is the difference or differences between a funeral service and a memorial service.


The main difference between a funeral service and a memorial service really boils down to their definitions:

A funeral service is a service that memorializes the deceased with their body present at the service.

A memorial service is a service that memorializes the deceased without their body present at the service.

Similarities between Funeral Services and Memorial Services

Funerals and memorial services are both designed to memorialize the deceased, bringing together close family and friends in their time of loss, in order to honor and remember the loved one they have lost.

Funerals and memorial services often both include religious elements, a eulogy, readings, prayers, songs, and a time of reflection.  They also typically follow a similar order of service.

Differences between Funeral Services and Memorial Services


As a memorial service often occurs after the remains have been cared for, there is a greater ability to bring in more creativity.  This is possible because the family has more time to plan the ceremony and make decisions regarding how they want to pay tribute to their deceased loved one.


Funerals are typically conducted in funeral homes, or in places of worship close to the cemetery.  Memorial services are often held in more relaxed spaces such as someone’s home, or a public space such as a church hall or community hall.


Traditionally, a funeral service includes:

  • The basic services of the funeral director and staff to obtain any required authorizations.
  • Transportation of the body from the place of death to a refrigerated facility.
  • Embalming or refrigeration.
  • Choosing a casket.
  • Dressing the body, casketing, hairdressing, and cosmetology.
  • Facilities and staff for viewing.
  • Equipment and staff for the graveside service.
  • Facilities and staff for the funeral ceremony, whether held in a funeral home, place of worship, or other facility.
  • Transportation of the body to the cemetery in a hearse.
  • Memorial book.
  • Burial plot.

A memorial service typically includes:

  • Renting a venue.
  • Catering of food and beverages.
  • Staff to assist with the ceremony.
  • Printed material to remember the deceased.
  • Decorations such as flowers, photographs, or other memorabilia important to the deceased.


The costs for funerals and memorials vary greatly, but it is typically found that memorial services save you thousands of dollars in comparison to a funeral service.

In Conclusion

In the end, it is important that you choose the type of ceremony that you feel would most honor your loved one and that feels right to the family and close friends left behind.