Planning an Affordable Memorial Service 

Funerals and memorial services can be incredibly costly, with the average funeral costing almost $8,000, excluding the burial costs and obituary. Finding low-cost options to remember your loved ones may not look like a traditional funeral but can be even more meaningful because of its customizability.  

When beginning to plan a memorial service, it is important to set a budget to begin with. This will allow you to look realistically at the services and options you choose. The following are all tips to stay within that budget.  

Cremation versus burial  

Cremation or burial can be one of the costliest parts of the end-of-life decisions. In general, a cremation will be less expensive than a burial. Cremation will also save you the cost of a casket, a headstone, and other burial costs like casket flowers and embalming fluid. More on deciding between burial and cremation can be seen here: Deciding between Cremation and Burial  

An additional consideration with cremation is that you don’t have to work with a funeral home directly as well. You can seek out a direct cremation option, where the total cost can be as low as $650. In any case, be sure to shop around costs for a cremation. If you choose the cremation route, you can also take more time in planning the memorial after the cremation, which will give you more time to consider affordable options as well as give family and friends more time to travel if necessary.  

Consider an alternative memorial venue 

Using a funeral home for the memorial may seem like your only option, but there are many different places to host a memorial for a fraction of the cost. Possible venues include a local church, a house, an event space, or a restaurant hosting space for example. These all have different price points, giving you a range of options.  

When selecting a hosting space, consider what equipment would be included in the space (like chairs and tables or places to put flowers and the urn).  

Skip catering  

Catering can be a very steep cost depending on the size of the memorial. A way to avoid this cost, while also adding a personal touch, is to ask your friends and family to bring a dish for a Potluck style event. Just be sure to note any restrictions on outside food a venue might have as well as other considerations like serving materials and plates.  

A great way to organize a Potluck is through an online system like Sign Up Genius or a Google Doc.  

Use social media  

Social media is a free way to share information about the service. Newspaper obituaries start at $200 for most, so finding an online means to inform family and friends can be an easy and efficient way to save money. Be sure to find a means to contact any family members who don’t have social media, like through a phone chain or letter. 

Do It Yourself  

Do it yourself or DIY can save you money on parts of the memorial service, like the memorial programs, memorial gifts, table centerpieces, and even the flower arrangement. Making these aspects on your own can also allow you to customize them directly to the tastes of your family and loved ones. When sourcing materials for this, consider using secondhand materials or buying in bulk if necessary.  


While it can be awkward to ask for money from family and friends, they often want to contribute in some way. Instead of asking for flowers, you can ask friends to donate to the memorial fund or to a favorite charity, for example.  

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