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What to wear to a "Celebration of Life"

MattJB

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This whole concept is fairly new to me, but even outside of that it's been years since I've been to any real funeral (re: covid). In any case, my grandfather recently passed away, but due to my father and his sister having medical setbacks, they postponed the funeral until May. Nicer weather, both will be healed up by then.

I current found myself with only a blue suit (not navy - think more dusty or denim blue) and brown shoes. With an incoming funeral; I just bought and currently having tailored, a nice black suit. And will be picking up some AE park aves next month.

Fast forward to this morning, I hear they're now going to be planning a 'celebration of life'. I have no idea if a black suit would be appropriate now, I feel like I want to wear it out of respect for my grandfather, but at the same time, wouldnt want to stick out like a sore thumb. I'm waiting to get more details on it but what I've heard so far is "a little get together with pictures, a minister to speak a little, any memories, history, maybe music and caterers". That actually sounds like a funeral to me, but without a burial, viewing, etc.

Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated. I feel like had I got a dark navy or maybe even charcoal suit those would've been far more appropriate. Maybe I could still wear a black suit, but lighten up the tie/pocket square a bit? And perhaps I'm just putting too much thought into it in the first place.

EDIT: Coorect for my lack of proof-reading.
 

hpreston

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Sorry for your loss Matt.

I would ask the planners of the event what they envision people wearing.

My aunt recently passed, my cousin who planned the service etc, said she (my aunt) wanted everyone in serious funeral garb, read black or dark navy, so I went with simple navy suit, shirt, black tie.
after the service there was a casual get together at my cousins, and she was explicit, get out of your suit, and come for comfort, so jeans and a flannel shirt.

Your celebration of life event, does sound like a funeral, but it seems to me, the planners are trying to make it more casual and comfortable. Maybe a somber sport coat, no tie??
 

MattJB

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Your celebration of life event, does sound like a funeral, but it seems to me, the planners are trying to make it more casual and comfortable. Maybe a somber sport coat, no tie??
Thanks for the suggestion, I do have a navy hopsack that may work. I'll definitely get more info on the expectations. Knowing them, they won't really have expectations, but I can always ask what they will be wearing.
 

hpreston

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Honestly, unless it’s a super formal funeral, navy hopsack (tie or no tie, white shirt, dark grey trousers) sounds perfect, I’ve been to several funerals post Covid, and many men aren’t even in a jacket…..

You could honor your grandfather with a somber tie….then if you feel over dressed, ditch the tie. You’ll still look put together and sharp.

Also, as you alluded to, don’t over think it. It’s about memories of your grandfather, not the color of your suit…
 

DapperPhilly

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I agree with @hpreston.
I went to a funeral last year for my wife's father, a military man who fought in Korea. I brought my black suit, white shirt and black/grey conservative tie and black shoes. My standard funeral attire.

Well I was amazed how few other men even had a sport coat on much less a suit.

Times have really changed.
 

rjc149

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I 2nd the advice to ask the event planners what appropriate attire would look like.

When in doubt, a dark charcoal suit, black shoes, white shirt, and a dark tie is the safest attire. If mourning death, it's appropriately respectful. If celebrating life, it's not too somber.
 

suitedcboy

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Memorial services like this have WIDE ranging dress codes. Of late the couple I attended were purposely casual as sombre and dark was not at all what they were about. Lots of cheer and happy remembering was the idea. The two I attended were 60 or more days after the death and the grieving was past. Some people got teary but Both really were much more full of laughs abut things the deceased had done. If your aunt was active and humorous and had a full life you might be going to a party and not a funeral.
 

Thin White Duke

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Yeah ask the planners.
Although I have large respect for compliance in certain formal settings, it’s becoming more popular for less stoic funeral services.

My Mam was a force of nature. I wore a black suit and black tie to the church service when she died in 2003 but swapped for a bright coloured tie and PS for the after party later that day. I know that even though she was a traditionalist she wouldn’t want long faces, tears and a sombre atmosphere.

My sister died in 2021 - there was a humanist service at the crematorium followed by an after party at a local pub. Her two girls were adamant that no black was to be worn. I wore my bright blue sharkskin suit with a fuchsia tie and PS. Only one person who didn’t get the memo turned up in black - a black v-neck T shirt and black strides! Everyone else was dressed more like a day at the races than what might be expected for a traditional funeral and that was absolutely fine with me.
 

HRoi

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I feel compelled to point out here is that it’s your grandfather. You know what’s best to wear to honor his memory (which sounds like you want to turn up in a black suit). Unless your family is planning to coordinate outfits for a visual impact, i think people will cut the grandson of the deceased some slack on what he’s wearing.

It’s very different when you’re attending a service as a non-family member and don’t want to offend or show disrespect to the family. In this case, you are the family.

But as a general rule, i turn up to any funeral, service, wake, celebration of life, etc in a dark suit unless specifically asked not to. I do stand out like a sore thumb sometimes, but people always appreciate my attire as the sign of respect it’s intended to be
 

Beans & Balance

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Condolences on the loss of your grandfather. I believe the suggestions thus far are sound.

I believe it would be very honorable, should your grandfather have a selection of ties, to inform your grandmother, other living relative, or the keeper of his estate, that you would enjoy honoring his life by wearing one of his favorite ties, watch, bolo, hat, etc.

Hopefully you are in proximity to see his selection or have some of his ties/other style items shipped to you prior to the celebration. This also allows you, should you desire, to continue in carrying on his memory in the potential style choices, by inheriting some of his menswear items.

I have a few of these items from my grandfather, including his beautiful vintage monogrammed Stetson. ~Beans
 

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