What to Wear at an Ash Scattering Ceremony

What you wear to any ceremony meant to honor and memorialize a person who has passed has significance in most cultures and religions. While these practices vary widely, they unite us in a common goal of mourning and paying respect to the one who passed and their loved ones. So, if you are wondering what to wear to an ash scattering ceremony, you are joining billions of people in a ritual of loss performed for many generations. Please keep reading if you have any questions about what to wear to scatter ashes. We’ll discuss what to wear, what not to wear, and what to bring to an ash scattering ceremony. 

What to Wear to Scatter Ashes

Thankfully, the answers to this question are short. Wear dark colors, preferably black. Think formal and elegant. Eschew flashy and go with conservative. The idea is to keep the attention on the person who passed and their loved ones. Go easy on the jewelry and think in subtle touches. While these are the general western rules of thumb, consider the culture of the loved one who passed. Some cultures may naturally be more dressy or casual, but you’ll never go wrong with the above guidelines. 

However, what to wear to scatter ashes needs further discussion since the guidelines we just discussed were for the traditional indoor ceremony. While the general ideas can be used for ash scattering ceremonies, you may have other factors to contend with, such as a more rugged outdoor location or a boat. Safety and comfort trump other funeral etiquette, so if you need to wear a brightly colored windbreaker on a boat, so be it. 

When you’re scattering ashes outdoors, probably the most essential item of clothing to consider is your shoes. Heels are likely a no-go, though low, wide heels might be ok on a manicured lawn. Otherwise, flats are the safest option. While the invitation to an ash scattering ceremony may provide any pertinent details about the location, don’t be afraid to clarify if you’re not sure if there’s a hike involved or not. For more outdoorsy places, consider athletic shoes, hiking boots, or any comfortable shoes that have a good grip and cover your feet. 

What Not to Wear to an Ash Scattering Ceremony

In general, avoid bright colors, light colors, and casual clothing. Anything that draws attention to yourself, like a lot of jewelry or a t-shirt with words or graphics, is best left at home. Even if the deceased would have thought your t-shirt was hilarious, it’s more polite to save the humor for a more casual affair. Don’t wear a lot of flashy jewelry. This is not a time for statement earrings. Subtle and basic accessories like watches are fine. If you don’t have dark colors, lighter-colored attire that is more formal is acceptable. The exceptions to these rules depend on culture and where the ash scattering is being held. Not everyone has black hiking boots, for example. Remember, we dress the way we do for funerals as a sign of respect for the person passed and their grieving loved ones. It’s a way of showing support for those who are still here and honoring the person who’s passed.

What to Bring to an Ash Scattering Ceremony

Depending on where the ceremony is being held, you may want to bring a few essentials in a discreet bag. Water is always a good idea for any outdoor activity. Depending on the weather, be it rainy or especially bright, an umbrella will help repel the elements and increase comfort. Dress appropriately in jackets, coats, or short sleeves, depending on the climate. Not only will this help you stay comfortable, but it reduces the risk of a weather-related health incident. If it’s hot and sunny, pack salt tabs in case of dehydration, extra water, sunscreen, and wear hats or sunglasses. For wet weather, grab a slicker or two as well as your umbrella. If you’ll be out in nature, such as in a national park, some bug spray may be a very welcome addition. For any location, consider stashing some granola or protein bars in your bag as well. 

If you’re scattering the ashes on the ocean from a boat, ginger candies are a good idea for any unexpected motion sickness. Wear closed-toed shoes with good grip and dress for the wind, e.g., hair pulled back, warm clothing, and windbreakers. Even if it’s cold out on the water, also bring some sunscreen since the sun reflects off the surface of the water. When in doubt, check with the person organizing the service; they should know if you need anything special. If you’d like to offer your help and support, asking if you can bring anything, like food or drinks or chairs, is a kind and thoughtful act of service to the people who’ve just lost a loved one.

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