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How to Plan for Weddings AND Funerals
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Albuquerque , NM
Monday, May 20, 2019

wedding flowers
Is it a wedding or a funeral?

My niece Dianne recently married a wonderful fellow named Geoffrey. They had planned and prepared for the big day over 12 months.

It was a beautiful ceremony and reception at a nice hotel in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida. As our family started the joyous wedding weekend celebrations, I was struck by similarities between weddings and funerals.

Friday night before the wedding, out-of-town guests gatheredfor a family-style dinner at a nearby restaurant. My brother Lee, the father ofthe bride, had invited his boss to attend. The boss and his wife showed uplate, just as we started to pack up the leftovers.

The reason for their delay: they had just come from afuneral for a young man who had overdosed on heroin and fentanyl. They showedme the laminated memorial card for the 21-year old. He looked like anAll-American boy, fair-skinned, blonde, and handsome. During the course of hisaddiction, he had overdosed and been revived four previous times. The fifth ODon Sunday proved deadly.

Funerals and memorial services are the parties no one wantsto plan.  My niece and her fiancé tookmonths to put together all of the elements of their wedding. This young man’sparents had the heart-wrenching task of creating a funeral in five days. Nowimagine planning a wedding in five days. The less time you have to plan, thehigher your stress level shoots up.

The similarities between weddings and funerals are striking.You need to find a place to hold the event, arrange for a clergy person orcelebrant, decide on a theme or color scheme, write what will be said duringthe event, and prepare a reception. You need to invite guests for the event.How will you contact them? And how will you send thank you notes afterward?

My award-winning book, AGood Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die,offers a wealth of information for planning a funeral. This advice also appliesto wedding planning. Here are three top tips you can use for any life cycleevent.

Use Checklists andCalendars

A checklist facilitates attention to details that mightotherwise fall through the cracks. This list contains decisions that need to bemade, action items that need to be accomplished, and who will do them. Use acalendar to chart out a timeline as an action implementation framework.

For example, establishing a date, time and place for theevent usually comes before announcements and invitations. If a celebrant willbe involved, his or her schedule needs to be determined before setting a dateand time. You might leverage a holiday or three-day weekend to encourage gueststo travel.

“Save the Date” cards for weddings are becoming common, ascouples decide on a date and work on the other details before issuing a formalinvitation. If a funeral isn’t held within a week, a family might do a “Savethe Date” card or email for a memorial gathering at a later time.

Keep an Up-to-DateGuest List

Journal Writing
How will you keep track of invitations?

Whether you are planning a wedding or a funeral, who willyou invite and how will you contact them? Even with the prevalence of texts andother electronic communications, most wedding invitations are still sent bymail. In some instances, web-based invitations are being used for formal affairssuch as bar or bat mitzvahs and quinceañeraparties.

Funeral communications require speed to reach people withina three to five-day window. Options include phone calls, emails, social media,texts, and newspaper announcements.

One way to manage guest list communications is with a paper-basedspreadsheet system. Keep an updated listing of names, addresses, phone numbersID which are for texts and which are only for calls), and emails. You mightwant to note the relationship details, such as whether the person is a friendor relative. A data management resource such as The Family Plot File from AGoodGoodbye.comcan help you keep track of who has been contacted, who sent cards or gifts, andif the giver was thanked and when.

Another approach is to use the personal contact lists we carry in our smart phones. There’s an app for that for funerals: Everdays enables you to create memorial announcements that can be shared with your community via text. You can choose who gets those announcements. You can also make other people administrators to further share notifications to those in their contact lists. This app can help reach young people when there has been a tragic death, such as an overdose.

Write Thank You Notes

Time Flies Card Cover
“Time Flies” notecards available online at AGoodGoodbye.com

I am fully expecting to receive a written thank you note from my niece for a generous check given to the couple at the wedding. The memory of my grandmothers and great-aunts who drilled the importance of writing a personal thank you note still resonates in my psyche.

After a funeral, the writing of thank you notes can actuallybe a healing activity. While optional, writing provides an opportunity forgrieving individuals to count their blessings. You don’t have to write aletter. It’s a note. You can sayplenty in three sentences.

When the death of a loved one blows your world apart, thankyou notes are little pieces of writing that add up to a quilt of gratitude forthe people in your life that come together in support. And when you sign off,sign it “love” or “with love.” Expressions of love are what living is allabout.

Whether the event is a wedding, a funeral, or another life cycle event, these tips can help you create a meaningful, memorable celebration without losing your mind.

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®

This article originally appeared on the Sixty and Me website.

Gail Rubin,CT, is apioneering death educator who helps organizations connect with baby boomersabout end-of-life issues. She’s the coordinator of Before I Die Festivals, anaward-winning TEDx speaker, and author of three books on end-of-life issues. Downloada free planning form and Executor’s Checklist from her website, www.AGoodGoodbye.com.

Gail Rubin, CT, is author and host of the award-winning book and television series, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.

Rubin is a Certified Thanatologist (that's a death educator) and a popular speaker who uses humor and films to get the end-of-life and funeral planning conversation started. She "knocked 'em dead" with her TEDx talk, A Good Goodbye. She provides continuing education credit classes for attorneys, doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, financial planners, funeral directors and other professionals. She's a Certified Funeral Celebrant and funeral planning consultant who has been interviewed in national and local print, broadcast and online media.

Known as The Doyenne of Death®, she is the event coordinator of the Before I Die NM Festival. She also hosts A Good Goodbye Internet radio show and produces Mortality Minute radio and online video spots. Her YouTube Channel features more than 450 videos!

Rubin is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association New Mexico Chapter. Her speaking profile is available at eSpeakers.com.

Gail Rubin has been interviewed about funeral planning issues in national and local broadcast, print and online media. Outlets include The Huffington Post, Money Magazine, Kiplinger, CBS Radio News, WGN-TV,  and local affiliates for NPR, PBS, FOX, ABC-TV, CBS-TV and NBC-TV. Albuquerque Business First named her as one of their 2019 Women of Influence.

Sign up for a free planning form and occasional informative newsletter at her website, AGoodGoodbye.com.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Gail Rubin
Group: A Good Goodbye
Dateline: Albuquerque, NM United States
Direct Phone: 505-265-7215
Cell Phone: 505-363-7514
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