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Tips for Planning an Ash Scattering Ceremony

Dealing with death is a personal journey that often requires a ceremony of some kind to honor the passing of a loved one. An ash scattering ceremony is an option that grieving families can plan down to the very last detail. Every mindful choice helps create a unique ceremony that pays respect to the loved one while giving peace to those left behind.

The problem is that it can be difficult to come up with a plan when also dealing with grief.

To make the process easier, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the planning stages to make certain your ceremony is memorable and meaningful. Continue reading to learn more about how to plan a beautiful ceremony.

Initial Considerations

Before you begin planning the ash-spreading ceremony, you’ll need to start by considering a few details that will make a big difference in the overall ceremony. By knowing the answers to the following decisions, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward with the rest of the planning.


Do you know if you want to save any of the ashes? Some families prefer to keep a small amount as a memento, rather than spreading the entire quantity of ashes.

Cremation urns are often the traditional receptacle choice, but there are also several other ways to honor those ashes. Such ways include using the ashes in things like:

  • Jewelry
  • Glasswork
  • Diamonds
  • Tattoos
  • Artwork
  • Hourglass
  • Keychains

For some people, they love the idea of turning a small amount of ashes into a keepsake. It means they can carry that memento of a loved one with them wherever they go. You’ll want to decide if this is the right decision for you before the ceremony begins.

Site Marker

Do you want a significant marker to identify the place where you scattered the ashes? Sometimes a marker can be an urn placed in the center of the ceremony. Other families choose to plant a tree during the ceremony.

Having a site marker allows a family to return to the place of the ceremony and have a visual reminder of their lost loved one.

A key thing to keep in mind is that some locations won’t allow for a site marker. If a site marker is an important aspect for you, then make sure you choose a location where that marker will remain undisturbed.

Size of Ceremony

How many people do you want to invite to the ceremony? Will it be the same as the memorial service or do you prefer a more intimate group for scattering the ashes?

Deciding on the size of personalized cremation ceremonies is something you’ll want to discuss with other family members. Find a balance of people that makes everyone comfortable, without losing the significance of the ceremony.

Recording of Ceremony

Do you want to have some kind of record of the ceremony? Would you prefer a video recording, photographs, or both?

A family might decide that they want to rewatch the ash scattering ceremony on certain anniversaries. Other families prefer to visit the place of the ceremony.

Make sure to ask the people closest to the departed about how they wish to proceed with this part of the planning. Some may wish to add photographs to an album while others may not want the intrusion of photography or video recording during the ceremony.

It’s important to find a way to gift everyone with the kind of closure they need. Taking photos at certain points of the ceremony while avoiding other points can be a good compromise for this.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is a meaningful way to give closure to family members, friends, and colleagues. It’s a time to reminisce and share stories. It’s a place to console and to grieve with those who feel the same.

For a memorial service, there are two cremation options to consider which will alter the overall service.

Before Cremation

One option is to hold the memorial service before the act of cremation. This allows the loved one to be viewed during the service. It gives those who are grieving a unique way to say goodbye.

A last look at the person they’ve lost.

You’ll want to consider if this is the right choice for your family or not. For instance, if you expect a lot of children in the service, it might be better to hold the service after cremation.

After Cremation

Many families prefer to have their memorial service after the cremation. It’s often a choice made because they don’t wish to tarnish their last memories of the lost loved one. Family members want to remember them in the vibrance of life without anything clouding those thoughts.

When hosting a memorial service after cremation, decorations are a useful way to soften the service. Photographs and items important to the departed are noteworthy ways to start conversations.

Flowers are a subtle touch that brings pops of color to an otherwise somber atmosphere. Since different flowers convey certain messages, they can add extra meaning to a service without being over the top.

Ash Scattering Location

The location of the ceremony is something you’ll want to take your time considering. You’ll want to figure out a place that’s both meaningful for you and your family, as well as a place that connects to the loved one you’ve lost.

These places can include areas such as:

  • Ocean
  • Parks
  • Home garden
  • Mountains
  • Favorite landmark
  • Into the air
  • Churchyard
  • Vacation spot

When choosing a place for the ceremony, make sure to keep other people in mind. They could accidentally intrude upon the ceremony, and they might not wish to be involved in any way. Other people don’t want to stumble upon a sacred place.

You may want to reconsider scattering ashes in a place with a lot of traffic.

Law Considerations

It’s also important to think about local laws in the chosen location. Does the area even allow the scattering of ashes?

In most cases, the answer is yes, but there are exceptions. For example, most oceans require you to be at least three miles from the shore and in water that’s at least 600 feet deep.

Most parks, especially national parks, require you to apply for a permit before allowing an ash scattering ceremony. While there are exceptions to this, you’ll want to take the time to find the park in question and figure out what is needed for a legal ceremony.


Flexible dates are a vital part of a successful ash-spreading ceremony. You don’t want all of your careful planning to result in a rainy day that washes out your ceremony.

Big gusts of wind are also a detriment to a ceremony. You won’t be able to spread the ashes the way you wish if the wind impacts the ceremony.

Instead of picking a fixed day for the ceremony, pick a range of dates. This way, if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans, you and your family will already have set aside another time to gather together.

Tone of Ceremony

Choosing a tone for a ceremony can turn a somber gathering into something your loved one would have cherished. This decision all depends on the way you want to send off the departed.

Some families prefer to stick to quiet and somber atmospheres, but others want to have it be more celebratory. If religion was an important part of the departed’s life, then a religious tone is appropriate as well.

Finding the right tone for the ceremony can help you choose other elements to make the ceremony unique to your lost loved one.

Special Ceremonial Additions

There are many ways to add a special quality to the ceremony. During the process of scattering the ashes, you may wish to do things like:

  • A poem recitation
  • Eulogy
  • Play music
  • Release butterflies
  • Light candles
  • Sing

Remember that the ash-spreading ceremony doesn’t need to happen in a flash. You can take your time to bring meaning and memory to the ceremony.

Using activities like singing or lighting candles can make the ceremony feel significant and add even more beauty.

After the Ceremony

Regardless of how you plan your ceremony, it’s your responsibility to clean away anything that isn’t biodegradable.

Plastic flowers, for instance, aren’t allowed to remain in most public places. You’ll need to take them with you once the ceremony is done.

Since the ceremony may bring up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, it’s important to think about the clean-up process beforehand. This way, you can focus on the ceremony without added stress once it begins.

Create a Heartwarming Ash Scattering Ceremony

Making decisions about things like memorial services, location, and ceremony atmosphere isn’t easy. Take all the necessary time planning the ash scattering ceremony until everything feels in place.

If it feels like too much, asking for help is never wrong.

Lone Star Cremation has been helping families with cremation since 2004. We offer both face-to-face arrangements as well as online options if you’d rather avoid interactions during difficult times. Contact us and we’ll offer you gentle guidance every step of the way through your cremation ceremony.

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