10/05/2009 at 02:00 PM EDT
Guests arriving for Patrick Swayze's private memorial on Sunday were greeted by a lone white horse, which was owned and beloved by the late actor whose boots were facing backwards in the stirrups.
"It's an old horseman tradition," a source tells PEOPLE of the gesture.
Held on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, Calif., the service – attended by several hundred friends and family, including Whoopi Goldberg – incorporated many photos of Swayze riding his horses, along with a video tribute to the star, who died
from pancreatic cancer on Sept. 14.
The memorial, planned by the actor's wife Lisa Niemi, featured speeches celebrating Swayze's life and a performance by professional dancers in honor of his talent.
"A whole dance floor was built," says another source. "The dancers did these amazing numbers."
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to The Patrick Swayze Pancreas Cancer Research Fund
or Stand Up to Cancer