More than 60 mourners gathered on Saturday afternoon at the Freay Funeral Home for a private service that paid tribute to Ashton, 25.
The aspiring singer and sister of pop stars Nick and Aaron Carter suffered an apparent of prescription medication on Tuesday, according to a police report.
"It was a celebration of who she was and how much she was loved by everyone," one guest tells PEOPLE. "There was a lot of crying but there was laughter too – there was joy in the stories people told."
Nick Didn't AttendAshton, who left behind a 10-month-old daughter, Alyssa, was eulogized by a Christian minister and several friends and family members, including her mother Jane, brother Aaron, and her widower, musician Mike Ashton.
Her brother Nick, who had a scheduled concert date in Atlantic City that evening, didn't attend.
"I wanted to be at my sister's funeral, but my family has always had a complicated dynamic. I love my family," Nick says in a statement.
"I want to thank everyone for all of their compassion and support that I have received during this most difficult time," he adds. "There are so many emotions for me surrounding the loss of my sister. I am trying to stay healthy, positive and focused."
The Carter clan has a long history of troubles, from Aaron's rehab stint to Nick's battles with a heart condition exacerbated by drugs and alcohol. Aaron also tangled with his mother over money.
Remembering LeslieOne guest at Ashton's open-casket service told of how "it was love at first sight" when Ashton met her husband several years ago when he became the drummer for her band.
Aaron spoke of how his sister "was always there for him," says the guest, and shared memories of their time together, including one story about riding four-wheelers as kids.
Ashton's husband of three years also addressed mourners at the simple, low-key service, which lasted just over an hour.
"Mike cried and spoke of Leslie's love for her daughter," says the guest, "How much she loved being a mother."