How to arrange a funeral

bouquet of pink white and yellow flowers for funeral

Need to arrange a funeral? Not sure where to start? We’ve put together this guide to make planning a funeral easier. Go through each step and see what works for you and your budget. Or skip to the parts that you need more help with.

In our funeral planning guide we’ll help you:

Arranging a funeral step-by-step

Follow these steps to plan the funeral you want for your loved one.

Find out their final wishes

If the person who died was a close family member then you may already have an idea of what they wanted for their funeral. They may have left instructions telling you what they’d like. Some people leave instructions in their will or write down simple notes. Or they might just have told you what they wanted.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to carry out all their instructions if it costs too much, even if they put it in their will. There’s no legal requirement. But you may want to do as much as you can to give them the send-off they wanted.

Work out how much the funeral will cost

Before you get too far into planning the funeral, it’s a good idea to work out how much you can afford to pay. The average cost of a funeral in the UK is around £4,000 but you could pay a lot more or less, depending on what you want. Prices for a direct cremation, for example, start at around £800. On the other hand, choosing extras such as a horse-drawn carriage for the hearse will cost you an extra £1300 or more.

To get an idea of how much it will cost for the funeral you want, try to get quotes from at least three different funeral directors in your local area.

Decide how to pay for the funeral

Check if the person who died left money behind to pay for their funeral. They may have a savings account just for their funeral or a life insurance policy that covers the costs. Or they may have organised a pre-paid funeral plan before they passed away. If you’re not sure, check their will for more info. You can also search for funeral plans online with the funeral planning authority.

If the funeral costs are not covered then you may have to pay for the funeral yourself. If you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for it read about getting help with funeral costs.

Choose a funeral director (if you want to use one)

If the person who died arranged a funeral plan then the cost of a funeral director may already be covered. If not, you can find a funeral director yourself. Use our funeral director finder to find local funeral homes and compare options.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a funeral director to make the arrangements. You could arrange the funeral yourself if that would be more suitable and help you keep costs down. Or you could ask a funeral director to take on the essentials. You may find it easier if they do things like taking care of the person who died and transporting them to the venue. That way you can deal with the more personal touches yourself and still have the guidance you need.

Decide between a burial or cremation

If the person who died told you what they wanted you may have already decided. But if you’re still not sure, this info may help.

With a burial you’ll need to think about:

With a cremation you’ll need to think about:

Choose a coffin

If you’re using a funeral director they’ll have different coffins to show you, whether it’s traditional wood or an alternative biodegradable coffin. And they’ll be able to tell you what’s suitable for a burial or a cremation. They’ll also make sure you get the right size coffin. But keep in mind that you can find a coffin yourself from an independent company if it helps you stick to your budget or makes the choice more personal. Learn more about choosing a coffin.

Choose the type of funeral service you’d like

The person who died might’ve asked for a specific type of funeral service. If not, there are a few different types to choose from:

Remember there’s no need to have a service at all, if that’s what you’d like or if you’re on a small budget. A direct burial or direct cremation may be suitable. This is when the person who died is buried or cremated privately. There’s no service. This can make arranging a funeral simpler and keep costs down.

Choose a funeral venue

The venue you choose may depend on the type of funeral you’re arranging and whether the person who died is being cremated or buried. You may also have to book several different venues depending on the funeral arrangements. For example, some people choose to have a ceremony at a place of worship followed by a cremation and a wake. All of these could be at different venues. So think about what will make the most sense for your plans and your budget.

Choosing a venue will help you set a date so you can invite guests. It will also help you decide on who will lead the funeral service. This could be your faith leader, a non-religious celebrant, a funeral director, or a friend or family member.

Arrange transport (hearses, limousines, etc.)

When you’re organising a funeral you’ll have to think about how the person who died should be transported to the service. Coffins are sometimes transported in hearses and close family and friends may travel to the funeral in limousines. But you don’t have to. A funeral director could transport the coffin in a private ambulance and you could drive to the funeral yourself. Talk with your funeral director about what your options are especially if the person who died didn’t want a lot of fuss.

Choose flowers, readings and music

When you’re planning a funeral service there are many ways to make it more personal to you, your family and the person who died. Their favourite flower can be used in the arrangements or a favourite song can be played during the service as a tribute.

Think about what you’d like to add to the service using our suggestions below:

Make an order or service

An order of service is the schedule for the funeral service. It helps the guests know what to expect.  It can be a small, printed booklet ordered from a professional or just one sheet of paper that you print yourself. You can add some personal touches to the order of service such as family photos or song lyrics that are played during the service. Guests can keep this as a token to remember the person who passed away too. Learn more about making an order of service.

Plan the wake or get-together after the service

After all the funeral arrangements have been made you may want to plan a wake or get-together after the service for guests to attend. This can be a good way for people to pay their respects or to swap stories about the person who died. You can organise catering or keep things simple by inviting guests back to your home for a hot drink and a chat.

The wake could be held anywhere you like. But here are a few ideas to help you decide:

We hope we’ve made arranging a funeral simpler for you. If you’re struggling with the planning yourself a local funeral director may be able to answer your questions. Use our funeral director finder to get the help you need.

 

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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