The legendary diva's funeral is set for Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in her hometown of Newark, N.J., and will be invitation only—attended by 1,500 people comprised mostly of family members and Whitney's close friends.
But to ensure that her millions of fans get a chance to say goodbye, Houston's clan has agreed to make the service available for television and web broadcast. (E! Online will be livestreaming the service on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET.)
The decision ensures there will not be a public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center à la Michael Jackson's arena remembrance in 2009 that turned into a media circus.
Instead, the service, which gets under way at 12 p.m. ET, will be a private affair celebrating the life of one of the music world's greatest singers.
On the guest list will be a host of music luminaries, among them Grammy winners Chaka Khan and CeCe Winans, songwriter Diane Warren, R&B singers Brandy and Darlene Love, record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid, and Houston's costar in The Bodyguard Kevin Costner, who a family source tells E! News, will speak along with Houston's mentor, music mogul Clive Davis. Despite some speculation, Davis is not paying for the funeral. Brandy's brother and Houston's recent party companion Ray J is on the list. R. Kelly might also be attending.
Whitney's godmother, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder are both expected to sing at the funeral, which is being planned by Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick.
Pastor Marvin L. Winans, a close friend of the Houstons, will preside over the service. He also officiated the songstress' marriage to Bobby Brown in 1992. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Winans, a gospel singer in his own right, told anchor Anderson Cooper that the family didn't "want to have a parade."
"I don't think, knowing [Houston's mother] Cissy and the Houston family…it was a matter of public or private as it was, this is my daughter, this is my sister, this is my mother, this is my friend and we want to do this with dignity," he said.
While the family has not disclosed a burial site, Whitney's death certificate reveals Houston will be laid to rest next to her father at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J.
The big question looming over the proceedings, however, is whether the family will allow Houston's ex-husband to be there.
Despite some reports that indicated Brown wasn't wanted because many in the Houston family supposedly blame him for Whitney's substance abuse and/or believe he's out to get a piece of his ex-wife's fortune, sources close to the "My Prerogative" singer told E! News that as of Wednesday, Brown was going to be there to support Bobbi Kristina, his 18-year-old daughter with Houston who was hospitalized twice last weekend for anxiety and stress after learning of her mother's death.
Brown is also still scheduled to rejoin his new edition bandmates for a concert Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, only a few hours' drive from Newark. (New Edition's manager said that Brown's concert plans are still in flux, however.)
Houston died suddenly last Saturday at the age of 48 after her body was discovered submerged in the bathtub of her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards.
The Los Angeles County coroner performed an autopsy, but an official cause of death has been deferred and is being kept under wraps pending toxicology test results, which could take four to seven weeks.
Houston's body was transported on Monday in a golden hearse to a funeral home near the New Hope church as her family scrambled to make preparations for Saturday's farewell.