A guide to planning virtual funeral services

camera equipment set up to record a virtual funeral

Arranging a funeral and want to know more about live streaming? Or are you planning an online memorial service for a loved one? Here we’ll take you through your options when it comes to planning virtual funeral services so that everyone can say goodbye wherever they are.

What is a virtual funeral?

A virtual funeral is when a funeral service is held online usually via a streaming platform (website). It’s an opportunity for family and friends to come together to say goodbye to the person who’s passed away even when they can’t physically attend a funeral service. People might choose to have both a physical and a virtual funeral service. Or they may just want a fuss-free memorial service online. Either way, virtual funeral services are a good way of adapting a traditional funeral service so that everyone can pay their respects no matter their circumstances.

Why have a virtual funeral?

During the pandemic lockdown restrictions meant that funerals had to be simpler. The number of people attending a funeral was limited. And social distancing rules applied. Those who were vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 may not have attended at all. This meant that virtual funeral services became popular. It was a way for family and friends to say goodbye to a loved one when attending in person wasn’t an option. But virtual funeral services are still being used now.

Here’s why people are still live streaming funerals:

You can attend a virtual funeral from wherever you live.

Live streaming technology has made it easier to pay your respects to a loved one wherever you are in the world. An online service means that you can say goodbye when travel isn’t an option.

You can attend a virtual funeral even if you’re unwell.

If someone is unwell or in hospital and can’t attend a physical funeral, a virtual one gives them the opportunity to attend while keeping them safe.

A virtual funeral saves memories for you.

When you live stream a funeral you can revisit the footage for years to come. On the day emotions are very high. And you may want to rewatch the event or listen back to speeches.

How does a virtual funeral work?

You have a couple of options:

1. You can plan a physical funeral service and live stream it.

If you’d like to live stream a funeral service make sure you ask funeral directors about this before you start making any arrangements. You may find that there’s a funeral director near you who can support you with a live streaming service in addition to traditional funeral arrangements. Some churches now offer live streaming services too. This may come at an extra cost. But if you’re unsure where to start when it comes to live streaming a funeral this could help take some of the pressure off.

2. You can just have a virtual memorial service that happens online.

Even if you’re not planning a traditional funeral service you’ll still need to organise a burial or cremation. Speak about your options with a funeral director. If the person who died didn’t want a lot of fuss a direct cremation or direct burial may be the right choice. Then you can organise an online memorial service on a date that suits all family and friends of the person who’s died.

How do you live stream a funeral service?

There lots of free streaming platforms you could use like Facebook Live or YouTube. These platforms are useful if you want to stream a physical funeral service. It’s free and relatively easy to set up. But if you want to have the event streamed and recorded by a professional videographer ask your funeral director in advance. They’ll be able to help you with the setup or introduce you to a professional videographer who will look after the live stream for you.

Going to organise the live stream yourself? It’s a good idea to test the set up beforehand in the venue itself. There may be patchy Wi-Fi connection. Or it may not be clear where you should set up microphones for the best sound. Checking this out in advance will help things run smoothly on the day.

How much does live streaming a funeral cost?

This depends on whether you do it yourself or hire someone. A crematorium or church may offer live-streaming services at a fixed charge of around £100. But if you want a more professional result then a videographer may cost up to £500.

How to do a virtual funeral service

If you’d like to just have a virtual funeral service and no physical service, there’s a few things you’ll need to think about. Read the steps below to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Find the right platform

If you’re not having a physical funeral service and want to have an online memorial service instead, a platform like Zoom or Google Meet would be useful. These are video conferencing services that allow you to share images and video. It also allows several people to be part of the service so they can do readings and share tributes. And an order of service can be shared on screen too. These types of video conferencing platforms are a useful way of sharing memories of a loved one and mean you can adapt the online service in any way you’d like.

Test the technology

Are you hosting the online memorial service at home? Do a test call with the people who’ll be contributing to the service. That way you can do a run through and check your internet connection is fast enough. This will also help you get familiar with the platform if you’ve never used it before especially if you want to share images while speaking during the service.

Send online invites

Don’t forget to send the link to the virtual memorial service in advance. This will allow time for any technical problems people might be having. Keep in mind that some people may need help figuring out how to access the link so you may want to go through this with them beforehand. Or have someone on hand who can support them over the phone if they need it.

Whether you’re planning on live streaming a funeral service or organising an online memorial service a funeral director may be able to offer you advice. Find the right one near you with our funeral director finder.