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Question: What do I wear to a Celebration of Life Ceremony?

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    Originally posted by Domino View Post
    "I was invited to a grief of death ceremony. Now, I know black is the standard, but it's indoors, so should I wear my midnight blue suit, which is blacker than black?"


      Originally posted by jcbennett View Post
      So my cousin's wife recently passed from breast cancer after 10 years of battling the disease. She's being cremated, so instead of a funeral they are having a Celebration of Life ceremony. There will be a meal and then the short, 30-minute ceremony which will include some video content and will be a general acknowledgement that she was an amazing person and the world is better for having had her in it.

      My question: what do I wear? The ceremony is outside, in Nashville, in three weeks. It will be at 7PM.

      It isn't a wake, and I don't even own a black suit so that option is out the window. My initial thought was go conservative and wear a navy blue suit with a subdued tie. Then I thought perhaps I could liven it up a bit and wear khaki slacks, brown double monks, white OBCD, blue seersucker jacket and no tie. Is that too close to summer wedding attire? I'm tying myself in knots here.

      I would not do khaki unless they are very sharp, and even then I think gray/blue would be better. Death/life is serious, so I'd want to dress in a way that shows effort, and that khaki color feels less so, even in nice slacks.

      I'm not sure what I'd wear - if they were really celebratory (as in happy) I'd go full seersucker top and bottom like a summer wedding. If I was less sure about that I'd wear a dark blue suit or even a glen plaid suit.

      In part it depends on the age of the person. If the cousin was young, it's going to be sad no matter how they position the event - a 40-year old or a 30-year old dying is very sad. Dark blue or navy suit. If she was 80 it's different - sad but also a ton to celebrate summer wedding style. If they were 100 then it's an absolute party. What a life! Nothing missed.

      EDIT TO ADD: If the deceased was old and has a surviving life partner, the mood may be sadder since that person may be hurting.

      Originally posted by MediumTex View Post
      Maybe you do wear a navy suit but, as a nod to the "color" of breast cancer research, maybe wear a pink pocket square. That would be a bit more festive, if that's the appropriate word, while still being respectful of the occasion. Or, if you know there was something she was fond of, work that into your outfit... maybe a favorite flower that you can wear on your lapel or some other way to acknowledge her.

      Above all, don't tie yourself in knots too much. WE here on this forum care about clothes a lot... very few other people do or will even notice. The important thing is to be there for your family and remember your cousin's wife. Maybe ask other people in your family what they'll wear. Again, don't expect them to have put a ton of thought into this, but at least it will give you some frame of reference.
      This is great advice.

      And don't ask people doing the organizing - they've got enough on their minds. Ask others to get a feel for it.
      Last edited by JT10000; May 15, 2021, 11:10 AM.


        I have fortunately only had to go to one such event recently, for a friend of mine who died unexpectedly. His family did not announce a dress code except "This is not a funeral so no need to wear black" and I left it at that because let's be real, this event is for the family to reassure themselves that their loved one had friends and colleagues who cared about him, not for them to find out if we had any fashion sense. It was a hot sticky August afternoon in Virginia, so I showed up in a linen navy blue suit, white shirt, black tie with a subtle gray pattern, and black AE Washington Squares (remember those??!). Think, funeral-lite? Basically, not too dour but also respectful of the reality that this is a "celebration" that no one actually wanted to have.

        In the end, I was happy with how I looked during the 45 seconds or so that I spent talking to his parents and sister, and didn't feel too out of place when talking with the other guests, who showed up in all manner of clothing. His boss wore probably the only suit he owned, a garish 1980s doublebreasted pinstripe affair, with probably the only tie he owned, featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy. He didn't offend anyone. Some of our mutual friends showed up in gym / street clothes because they thought it was a happy hour kind of get-together, and at least one of them was embarrassed about the misunderstanding, but no one shamed him or anything.

        I don't know the specific details of your family, but I think in general, for these things as long as it looks like you care about your cousin and his wife, and are able to remind him that they are in your thoughts, that's already 90% of the battle.



          First of all my condolences are to your family. I would suggest you to look at their family tradition and go for the attire that fits best.