A grave marker dedication is a type of memorial service that occurs when a deceased person's headstone is placed at her burial site. Because it can take several weeks or months after a person has died to have a headstone made, grave marker dedications are commonly considered to signal the end of the mourning period. There are no strict guidelines to follow for the ceremony, so what you do at it is entirely up to you. Some people also hold grave marker dedications at the grave sites of their ancestors years or decades after their deaths.
Discuss the logistics of the ceremony with cemetery staff. If you want them to place your family member's headstone during the ceremony, arrange a date and time that works for everyone. If you want the headstone to be placed before the event, make sure they know that and ask them to call you to confirm that it has been placed.
Hire a memorial-service officiant, clergy member or other religious official if you wish to have one read religious texts during the ceremony. This is optional; you may read the texts yourself if you wish.
Invite friends and family to attend the dedication. Your invitation need not be formal. Simply call or email the people you'd like to attend and ask them to come. Provide the date, time, address and directions.
Make a chronological list of the activities you would like to do at the dedication. Common ones include reading poems, releasing balloons or doves, sharing memories of the person with the group and having specific people give pre-written speeches. If you want people to give speeches, contact them at least two to four weeks before the event to give them plenty of time to decide whether they want to do it and to write what they will say.
Gather any supplies you will need. For example, if you are releasing balloons, arrange to have a local florist or party supply store inflate the style, color and number that you want and pick them up the day of the event. If you plan to leave flowers or place a wreath at the gravesite, select the arrangement at a local florist and ask to have it delivered or pick it up the day of the event.
Make reservations at a restaurant if your guests will be going to brunch, lunch or dinner after the ceremony. Ask them to indicate whether they would like to attend the meal when they RSVP for the dedication.
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Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and "The Sacramento Bee," among others. Kennedy has a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.