That's really interesting.
As people entered the beautiful historical Vizcaya Mansion the guestbook stood beside a video screen. Music played in the background as the photo montage video displayed peaceful nature scenes.
Parked in front of the mansion was a 1936 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud limousine that could seat fourteen passengers. Floral pieces were carefully arranged throughout the room. Seating for a hundred and fifty people had been setup theatre style. All of this was business as usual for this popular venue with one exception. Instead of an altar for the bride and groom, in the front of the parlor between two antique candle stands, there stood a casket.
The beautiful Vizcaya Mansion has been voted the number one wedding venue in Sacramento. Fewer people know that it has also hosted several funerals.
For the last 40 years weddings have been held in beautiful settings that often reflect the interests and passions of the bride and groom, while funerals have been held in funeral homes, cemetery chapels and places of worship. Now that is starting to change.
It is little surprise that the baby-boomers would seek out the same personalized settings for their funerals that they had for their weddings. As funeral attendees entered the Vizcaya Mansion one person after another commented "This is so much nicer than a funeral home."
Mandel Funeral Services of Northern California opened in August of 2006 as a mobile funeral home. How to come to families to plan and arrange funerals was easy to figure out. The question was where to hold a service for those without a place of worship or not wanting a cemetery chapel?
The Mandel staff spent several weeks on the computer searching for wedding venues, then calling to see who might allow a funeral service. By the time they were done they had a list of over 80 locations throughout Northern California. The list included places like car museums and wineries which offered free wine tasting for attendees.
When Mandel first called the Towe Car Museum he asked to speak to the manager. The receptionist asked "What's this regarding?" He told her he wanted to know if the museum would be willing to host a funeral. She responded; "You have to speak to the manager."
After a brief discussion with the manager it was agreed there was no reason a funeral could not be held at the venue. To ensure there was no misunderstanding Mandel said; "So you have no problem with our bringing a casket into your car museum?" Her answer was; "Heck, you can bring the hearse in if you want."
In the last two and a half years Mandel Funeral Services of Northern California has held services in wedding facilities throughout Northern California. This has enabled them to provide customized meaningful funeral services to twelve Northern California counties.
They have used park district buildings, veteran halls and community centers to name a few. If it had not been for a scheduling conflict they would have even had a funeral at AT&T Park for a man who was a Giants' fan. Along with unique and beautiful venues they have integrated other touches associated with weddings. Butterfly and dove releases, catering favorite foods and live streaming over the internet are some of their special offerings.
Currently these settings seem to attract funerals for younger people. The concept is different and definitely non-traditional, but as the baby-boomers age it is likely that this type of service will fill their needs in a unique and special way.
Learn more about the author, Daniel Mandel.
That's really interesting.
Thank you for the article to let people know that funerals are changing!! I am an event planner and it might seem ironic that I plan and design weddings and other celebrations and events, but perhaps the most rewarding events are memorials. It's a time to offer comfort, and help people realize that it is a life being celebrated, not the one day that a person passed away!
Everyone needs to know that it's okay to smile on that day, in fact it is so therapeutic. Laughing and crying are very similar and so very healthy. I love to be able to help people feel like they have permission to laugh, cry or whatever. I love to find out what made a loved-one's eyes light up, put a smile on their face, what was it that they looked forward to with anticipation, and yes even some of their quirks that everyone will relate to that become good or funny memories. If I can bring all of this about through designing a memorial, I feel like I have done my job.
I know how much all of this helped at times when there were deaths in the family, and that is really why I love to do this for other people.
I've noticed so many times that people interchange the words wedding and funeral. It'll come out as something like this. "I remember when we went to ______'s funeral, I mean wedding!" The reverse is also true. My thinking is that this happens because often these are the only occasions that so many members of a family, as well as friends, come together. My other goal is to make sure that we celebrate all of those occasions in between the major events, but it is definitely nice to see memorials as celebrations of life! My company is called Greatest of Days which at first made some people uncomfortable even having my company being associated with funerals! Actually, it keeps us focused on what's it's all about! The greatest days in a person's life!
Thank you, Daniel, for this article! As a Celebrant who, like Janis, loves helping families plan this most special of events, your words regarding venues is so appreciated! My dad was the very proud president of his golf club for many years. When he became unable to play any longer, he was an still a beloved honorary member, and right up til he died he loved to meet with his friends in the bar in the golf club. So that is exactly where we had his memorial service! It was perfect and I know he would have loved it.
Yes, thank you Daniel so much for bringing, what I think, is the new wave of funeral services! Why do we have to have it at your typical mortuary and not surroundings that meant a lot to the loved one who's passed? This is a great business and I support you 100%! You have wonderful insight and imagination as well. Much to success to you and your Mobile Funeral service!
This is a great example of how putting a little extra thought into something that seems so commonplace (even mindless or unquestionable, to some degree) can really make for a unique service + marketing angle. Thanks for sharing, Daniel!
Daniel offers invaluable tips, suggestions and advice.
Sounds like we are all getting to know a trend-setter in funeral service.
Kudos to Dan....and I look forward to learning more from your articles in the very near future.
Can you stand one more thank you Daniel? This is a perfect example of "thinking outside the box". I also appreciate all the other comments. Death really is a lot about life. However, even though we celebrate lives, we can't deny mourning deaths. During that time, families should be able to spend time together, without the added burden of dealing with the necessary but mundane tasks involved with the death of a loved one. This is particulalrly difficult if they live far away. One of the things my business does is to take the burden off the minds of the newly bereaved, providing them the time & opportunity to mourn, reminisce, laugh, cry, be together, and grieve in whatever fashion suits them. Some of the things we do are: ~ Make travel and hotel arrangements for people coming from out of town ~ Tidy up the homes in preparation for visitors after the service ~ Coordinate catering or other food options for visitors after the service ~ Act as a courier for necessary paperwork, i.e. death certificate, insurance, social security information, etc. ~ Inform utility companies, post office, magazine subscriptions, etc. of death ~ Coordinate orders and follow-up of flower deliveries ~ Set up a bank or credit union account for people wanting to leave donations in memory of a loved one ~ Assist with, or completely manage estate sale; ~ Distribute left- over items to charity or place of person’s choice ,disposing of unwanted items ~ Clean house in preparation of sale ~ Assist with preparing and sending thank you notes
Regardless of whether you use the services of a concierge, those are just a few of the things that need to be tended to. As owner and primary concierge, I am passionate about ensuring that these services are performed in the most caring and compassionate manner. In addition to losing both my parents, the father of my children, and other dearly-loved ones, I served for many years as a hospice volunteer. People are allowing you into their lives during a sacred time, and it is so important to take cues from them and be sensitive during a time of loss. Laughing is allowed and even welcomed if the moment is appropriate. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic.
One of the many things I love about this article is showing how a typical business "challenge" - having and maintaining what would normally be an expensive property where funerals could be held - became a solution! Bravo.
Another perfect example of how funerals are being personalized is in some of the options for cremation urns available today. Mike Holberg (on biznik) apprenticed with internationally reknown glass master Dale Chihuly and now makes stunning glass cremation urns that are works of art as well as having an important practical use. (He designs them for pets as well as people!) See www.personaltemples.com to see Mike's work.
Thanks for this information, Kate! I am always looking for ways to personalize events. I will look more at Mike's website and will make a point of adding him to my network. This is what I love about Biznik. I'm very happy to see that those that are in the "Creativity Industry" are getting more representation on Biznik. It really helps us out a lot.
Daniel, What a great article. It is really amazing to finally see someone practicing personalization to the degree you are. Everything I read says it is the new trend for the industry and it looks like you are out ahead of the pack.
These days, people want the funerals to say something about them and the life they lived. They want it to be a celebration of a life well lived. Thanks for the insight. Mike
I don't know if more comments may yet be coming, but I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to share your thoughts. Your kind and encouraging remarks mean a great deal to me.
Anyone who might be interested I would like to ask you to look at my post about starting a Bereavement Care Network. The easiest way to find it is to go to my profile and you'll see it listed under recent activities. If you're interested please contact me.
Thank you again.