What To Wear To A Celebration Of Life

Celebrations of life are different from funerals and memorial services as these events are lightly structured and less formal. What also differentiates celebrations of life from traditional remembrance rituals is their venue. The family can hold a celebration of life at a park, beach, restaurant, international destination—anywhere really.

While unique ways to remember our departed loved ones have a certain charm, they leave us in a dilemma. What do you wear to commemoration where there are no fixed attire rules?

If you've been struggling with attire-related decisions, our essential guide will help you determine what works best for you.

Factors To Consider On Getting Dressed

It's true. You can dress in formals, semi-formals, casuals, even beachwear. So how do you decide? The best way to determine what’s appropriate is by considering the factors outlined below.

  • What Type Of Celebration Of Life?

Each celebration of life is unique as everyone has different hobbies, interests, beliefs, and values. And yes, these, along with family preference, determine the theme of the celebration of life. When in doubt, ask the host family about the theme (cultural, sports, picnic, etc.)

If the family has decided on a theme that requires dressing up (movie or book characters, etc.), then do make an effort to find a suitable costume.

  • Where Is The Venue?

Matching a theme with an appropriate venue is what makes a celebration of life more cohesive and beautiful. The venue is, thus, another crucial aspect to consider when deciding on appropriate attire. For instance, avoiding high heels for a park gathering is prudent.

Whether a celebration of life is held in a backyard, an upscale rented hotel or resort, the beach, etc., a great rule of thumb is to stay comfortable, classy, and casual.

  • Where Activities Are We Doing?

The location and itinerary will help you determine what activities (if any) will be held during the celebration of life. Dress accordingly—flip-flops for the beach, hiking boots for adventure activities, smart casuals for restaurants, and so on.

Remember to carry appropriate accessories—a wide hat or sunglasses for outdoor events on sunny days, for instance. If there are multiple activities or outdoor adventures, don’t forget to pack extra clothes and a hygiene kit.

  • Anticipate The Weather Conditions

If the celebration of life you’re attending is being held outdoors, consider the weather when selecting your attire. And since weather can be unpredictable, carry warmer or cooler clothes, just in case.

The clothes you select may be the difference between a comfortable or uncomfortable experience. For instance, if your clothes are too warm or tight, you’ll sweat profusely during the remembrance.

  • What Is The Color Theme?

The most important rule is never to dress in black as these will evoke emotions of grief and sadness. Celebrations of life are lively. More so, they’re not about grieving but rather memorializing the deceased in the happiest way the family deems fit!

So, don’t be afraid to add a pop of color.

More often than not, the gathering’s color theme would be the deceased’s favorite color. Check the invitation for specific color motifs and pick similar colors for your attire when in doubt. You won’t be out of place. We promise!

  • Consider Requests

The deceased’s family may put forward certain requests that you should consider. This could include wearing a silly hat, a clothing item in a specific color, etc. And while some requests may feel odd, like the silly hat, do remember that the celebration of life has been planned according to the deceased’s personality, interests, and wishes. It is therefore important to put your personal preferences aside for a few hours.  

General Dressing Tips For Adults

If the celebration is held in a formal atmosphere, men and women can wear semi-formal clothing such as slacks, button-down tops, or even a conservative dress. Simple and elegant shoes and jewelry are also recommended. If the celebration is more casual and outdoor-themed, it’s acceptable to wear jeans or pants followed by a polo shirt.

If you’re part of the bereaved family, getting custom-made jewelry from your loved one’s ashes are unique ways to commemorate them. This involves making the cremation ashes into wearable cremation jewelry such as rings for the ashes of loved ones and glass pendants so the family can take their deceased loved ones wherever they go.

General Dressing Tips For Children

Children can be tricky to dress for celebrations of life, especially when it’s a formal occasion. Kids run around, spill drinks, and have food-related accidents.

We would recommend matching the children’s attire to yours. The theme and the venue also would matter, so the same rules apply to the children for formal and casual celebrations.

Most importantly, children can be the source of smiles and laughter in a celebration of life, so keep the clothing colors vivid and bright to match their personality!

What Not To Wear At A Celebration Of Life

Never wear anything too revealing at a celebration of life—it may be a fun gathering, but we must be respectful in how we dress and behave. Anything too flashy or distracting may take away the attention from celebrating the deceased's life, so it is best to blend with the theme of the event.

While black is not advisable, overly vibrant colors such as neon or sparkling clothes are deemed over the top. Tank tops or ripped jeans are a no-no as well.

Lastly, never wear flip-flops or sandals to a formal celebration. However, they are necessary for a beach or outdoor event.

It is best to keep your clothes simple but elegant, with minimalistic jewelry to accessorize your fashion choice.


Dressing for a celebration of life need not be complex. What is important is that you dress in such a way that respects the deceased and the bereaved family so that you may collectively memorialize the special life of a departed loved one. We hope this helps you dress confidently and appropriately for your dearly departed’s celebration of life.