Ceremony Ideas

Special Ash Scattering Ceremony Ideas

Your loved one was a special individual, and you likely wish to honor their uniqueness in their ash scattering ceremony. There are many ways to have a scattering ceremony, in addition to the traditional casting ceremony. One way to make your loved one’s scattering ceremony special is to mark its location in an online memorial. This article will cover more of these special ash scattering ceremony ideas. Hopefully, you find one you like or are inspired by them to create your own ceremony. 

But, first, a quick note about scattering rules and etiquette. While there are no federal laws prohibiting ash scattering, many states or local governments have rules about scattering ash. Private property is always ok if it’s your own. Otherwise, you may need written permission. Do your homework, or ask someone else to do some research. National Parks, for example, usually allow scattering with a permit, whereas public parks usually don’t allow scattering. Some states allow scattering on bodies of water; some do not. Burials at sea need to be 3 miles away from shore. Wherever you scatter, be aware of your surroundings. Choose a time for your ceremony that’s in the off time for any public place. Use discretion and don’t scatter around a huge crowd of people (that haven’t been invited) or by a busy walkway, etc. Before you leave, make sure there’s no ash visible. This may require bringing a rake or some other tool. 


If you’re in an area with low fire danger, consider setting off fireworks to mark your loved one’s passing. While this is definitely not for everyone and requires preparation and thoughts to safety, fireworks are beautiful and loud and are a loving way to pay tribute to a special soul. Hire professionals, or find someone with experience to set off your fireworks. Fireworks are dangerous so use them with caution. Sparklers or handheld candles are safer, easier ways to have the element of fire present if you don’t think fireworks are the right choice for your ash scattering ceremony.

Floating Water Lanterns

If you have access to a contained body of water like a pool or small pond, consider lighting floating lanterns at some point during the scattering ceremony. Guests could light their own and set the lanterns free before the scattering, so the scattering is done in the light of candles on the water. 

Do not float lanterns on natural bodies of water; the fire risk is too great. Be wise and clear away things flammable from the pool or pond before using water lanterns and have a fire extinguisher nearby. Do not use floating lanterns that float away into the air with a lit candle. They are an extreme fire hazard and regularly cause dangerous fires. Many states have banned the use of these air floating lanterns. 

National Parks

Lay your loved one’s remains to rest in a beautiful national park. If the closest national park is a few hours away, the journey can become part of the scattering ceremony, as can a short hike. If members of your party have mobility issues, have someone scout out a good, easily assessable location that won’t require much walking but also offers some privacy. Remember, you may need a permit from the park itself, but don’t worry; this is a very common request and will likely be a simple process. Scattering ash ceremonies are common at national parks. 


One way to bypass the potential issue of leaving visible ash on the ground after scattering ash ceremonies is to use the trench method. Before the event, ask someone to dig a small trench in the earth. Instead of scattering the ashes all around, they are gently poured into the trench. Have a shovel nearby and assign someone the task of carefully filling in the trench during the ceremony. Trenching can be meaningful and brings some of the comforting elements of a burial to the scattering ritual.

Another way to use this method is to dig a circular trench around a tree or beautiful plant, like a rose bush. Keep the trench a fair distance from the plant since cremation ash isn’t technically good for plants. Pour the ashes around the tree or plant in the trench during the ceremony and fill in. You’ll know you laid your loved one to rest someplace beautiful. 


Raking is another way to add ritual to spreading ashes ceremonies. After the ashes are scattered, use a small rake to gently distribute them over the earth until they are no longer visible. While you or someone is raking is a good time for special music, someone reading a poem, story, or speech from someone close to the deceased beloved. 

Water Scattering

Scattering your loved one’s ashes on the water is a meaningful way to lay them to rest. Water symbolizes life and rebirth since water is constantly changing form while always coming back to itself. You can scatter ashes at sea if you’re at least three nautical miles away from shore. Many chartered boat companies specialize in ocean scatterings and can help make the process easy. You’ll need to check your local laws and regulations for other bodies of water. While it depends on the state, presume you’ll need a permit. To make scattering easier, use a water urn that holds the ashes but will dissolve into the water. This is a beautiful way to release your loved one’s ashes while preventing any ashes from being blown around. Water urns are made from biodegradable material; some are even made out of ice.
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