The memorial had a live concert atmosphere. Her brother, the Rev. Pedro Rivera Jr., officiated the service and led the pallbearers who brought in her coffin and placed it center stage.
"I'll never forget the day that I got beat up in fourth grade by a sixth grader and I came home and you got mad at me for losing the fight. But that's my mom. She's a fighter," said Trinidad Rivera.
For fans, it was tough to say goodbye to their favorite singer.
"There's no words for me to explain. She's not dead for me. I'm here and I'm here to support her and I didn't go to my work today, but I'm here," said Sanibel Salas from Santa Ana.
Tickets for the memorial in Universal City were sold out. Still, some fans camped out overnight hoping to nab seats to say a final farewell to the songstress known as "Diva de la Banda."
The service was billed by Rivera's family as a "celestial graduation." Rivera's remains were brought back to the U.S. on Thursday.
To prevent a massive crowd, Live Nation offered a limited number of tickets to the public for a refundable fee of $1. It's unclear exactly how many tickets were up for sale, but they sold out within an hour on Tuesday after going online at noon.
Rivera, 43, died in a small plane crash in Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Dec. 9. The plane disintegrated on impact and much of the wreckage was not immediately recognizable. Six others, including two pilots, were also killed.
She had sold 15 million records and sang songs of heartbreak and abuse, all while inspiring her fans to be strong and persevere.
Those who spent the night in the cold said Rivera is worth the wait.
"We were here since 7 p.m. last night, and then we've been running around like crazy trying to find out information on what was going to go on," said Elvia Avina, a Hollywood resident. "We spent the night here, but hopefully it will be worth it."
The memorial service was scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, after which the family planned a private burial.
Rivera is survived by her five children and two grandchildren.