Category Archives: Funeral

The dos and don’ts of funeral etiquette

Whilst funeral services are much less bound by tradition than they once were, if you haven’t been to a funeral for many years or have never attended one before, you may be wondering what the commonly accepted etiquette is, what to wear and where to sit.

The arrangements for funerals are not enshrined by law and as result; funerals can be held almost anywhere at all.  There is a common misconception that funerals have to take place in a church or crematorium, however this is not the case and family and friends are now much more likely to be involved with planning a funeral.  With all this in mind, many funerals nowadays are a celebration of a life well lived and pretty much free from convention, rather than an entirely sombre occasion.

Funeral invitations

Funerals are generally not by invitation and are usually open to anyone who knew the deceased. Remember that a funeral service is an opportunity for friends and family to say goodbye and as such is likely to be attended by anyone who wishes to come.

Wearing black

Many people still choose to wear black as a dress code to funerals as they feel that this is traditional and will be seen as a mark of respect by the bereaved relatives.   However, due to the informal nature of many funerals, the majority of mourners these days choose to wear clothes that they feel comfortable in.  When making arrangements for a funeral, it is becoming more usual for mourners to be encouraged to wear bright clothes, for example, or to follow an informal ‘dress code’ such as team colours at the funeral of a loyal football fan.

When to enter the church or crematorium

When it comes to church funerals, it is usual for the mourners to enter the church and take their seats before the coffin and close family arrive.  However, the protocol at crematoriums is slightly different and it is usual for the mourners to wait outside until the coffin and close family have arrived.  When deciding on where to sit, the front rows of the church or crematorium are usually reserved for close family members but unless the church is very small, there’s no need to sit right at the back.

At the end of the funeral service

Once the funeral service is over, it is usual for the congregation to stand and for the funeral celebrant or minister to leave the church or crematorium.  If the funeral has been held in a church, the coffin will either be carried out by pall bearers or wheeled out by the funeral directors, ready to be taken to the hearse for the burial.  However, if the service has been held in a crematorium, the coffin will either remain on view or may be hidden by a curtain.  The close family and next of kin will leave the church or crematorium first.  For church funerals, it is usual for close family and friends only to attend the actual burial.





Ideas for personalising a funeral

credit: khartonov Aleksey
credit: khartonov Aleksey

Regardless of whether you’re arranging a funeral through a funeral director or going it alone, there are lots of ways to make the funeral a personal send-off, designed to commemorate the life of the deceased.  From choosing a unique mode of transport through to fireworks during the wake, what you do needs only be limited by your own imagination.

Funeral flowers don’t have to be the traditional wreaths or sprays normally associated with funeral arrangements.  Your local florist will be happy to offer lots of ideas but if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, why not choose a bright, eye-catching arrangement or a wreath arranged in an unusual design?  There is a huge number of different options available and if you’re stuck for ideas, why not start by thinking about the deceased’s favourite flowers?  Natural-looking arrangements are increasingly popular and it’s now possible to buy funeral flower arrangements made from meadow flowers, for example.

The choice for funeral music is entirely down to you or the wishes of the deceased and there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to choosing music for a funeral.  You’ll also need to decide when you’d like music to be played during the ceremony and if you’re not sure which will be the most appropriate time, the minister or funeral celebrant will be able to offer further advice on this.

A balloon release at the end of a funeral ceremony is a great way to add a very moving, personal touch to the proceedings.  There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, as it’s very important to ensure that you only use latex balloons without any strings, ties or ribbons.  Latex balloons are entirely degradable which makes them the only environmentally friendly option and you’ll find that there are a number of companies in the UK who will be able to provide balloons and helium for balloon releases at funerals.  A dove release is another option and because white doves have long been a symbol of peace and love, they can make a beautiful tribute at the end of a funeral ceremony, combined with an appropriate reading.  Again there are companies throughout the UK who provide doves for release at funerals and because the birds will fly back to their home coop the same day, you’ll need to use a service based in your local area.

Whilst photography is more traditionally associated with weddings and christenings, increasing numbers of funerals are now recorded on camera or film.  Although the idea of funeral photography or filming might seem a little macabre, to some people it can become an important way to record a very emotional event.  There are a number of companies now offering specialist funeral photography services in the UK but if you can’t find a service in your local area, you’re likely to find that wedding or portrait photographers will be willing to help.

There are lots of ideas available for personalising funerals and whatever your choose to do, providing you choose memorable touches that reflect the personality or interests of the deceased, the funeral is sure to be a moving and fitting tribute.