What is a simple funeral? And what does it include? In this article, we’ll look at the differences between simple and traditional funerals. We’ll touch on other low-cost funeral options too.
What is a simple funeral?
A simple funeral is just that – a funeral that includes the basics and nothing more. For this reason, simple funerals are sometimes called basic funerals.
Simple funerals are much cheaper than traditional funerals. Some people choose a simple service to save money, while others just prefer a straightforward ceremony without too much fuss.
It’s important to note that a simple funeral isn’t the same as an unattended funeral or a direct cremation. With a simple funeral, you’ll still have a service for people to attend. Whereas with an unattended funeral or a direct cremation there’s no service.
How is a simple funeral different from a traditional funeral?
Generally, simple funerals include only essential elements. The things that are included are more straightforward and less expensive than at a traditional funeral.
This means traditional funerals are usually more flexible. The person organising the funeral can choose when and where the funeral is held. They can usually pick extras too, like a funeral procession, a viewing or a wake.
Choosing a simple cremation or burial means giving up some of this flexibility. However, it doesn’t mean giving up the chance to say goodbye properly. With the right poems, music and readings, a basic funeral can feel just as special and memorable as a traditional service.
What’s included in a simple funeral?
A simple funeral follows the same structure as a traditional funeral, but there are a few differences. Here are some of the most important:
Funeral date and time: you’ll usually have less choice over the date and time of the funeral.
Choice of vehicles: the funeral director will transport the person who has died to the funeral in a simple, respectful vehicle, but a hearse and limousines usually aren’t provided.
No procession: a simple funeral service usually starts when everyone arrives at the crematorium or burial ground.
No pallbearers: there won’t be any professional pallbearers though family members may be allowed to carry the coffin into the service.
Choice of flowers: often simple funerals don’t include flowers, though you might be offered a choice from a small selection.
Choice of coffin: usually the coffin will be a simple design – you might have a few options to choose from or it might just be one option.
No wake (funeral reception): this probably won’t be included. But you can hold an informal wake at a family home or pub instead.
Bear in mind that this is just a guide. The details of a simple funeral service will vary depending on the funeral director you choose. Make sure to ask them what’s included.
How much does a simple funeral cost?
The cost of a simple funeral will vary based on where you live, the funeral director you choose and any extras you add.
As a guide, you can use our funeral director finder to compare the price for a simple funeral near you. Just type in your postcode or location and click search. You’ll see a list of funeral directors in your area, together with prices. The ‘attended funeral’ price will give you an estimated cost for a simple funeral, without extras.
Keep in mind that some funeral directors offer two or three different simple funeral options, so it’s worth getting in touch to talk about what you want included. They can advise on the best option.
Is a simple funeral the right option for you or your loved one?
If you’re not sure if a simple funeral is the right option, here are a few things to consider:
A simple funeral might be the right choice if:
The person who died wanted a simple send-off without a lot of fuss
There won’t be many people attending the funeral
You need to keep funeral costs down
A simple funeral might not be the right choice if:
You want to hold the funeral on a weekend
You want the funeral to take place quickly (e.g. within 72 hours of the person dying)
You want to have a separate service at a place of worship before or after the cremation
You want to have a traditional funeral service with a procession, pallbearers and flower arrangements
How to plan a simple funeral
Planning a simple funeral is very similar to planning a traditional funeral:
Make a list of what you want for the funeral. List all the things you definitely want to include in the service. This will make it easier for you to decide if a simple funeral is the right option.
Think about how many people will be invited. Having a rough idea of the number of people will also help you decide if a simple funeral is the best option.
Find a funeral director. You can use our directory to find funeral directors near you. It’s a good idea to contact at least three different funeral directors so you can compare options and prices before making your choice.
Talk to your funeral director about options. They’ll take you through what’s included in their simple service. They’ll also let you know if there’s anything you’ll need to organise yourself, such as flowers or the order of service. They can also give you an itemised quote of everything you’ve agreed.
Let the funeral director plan the service. Once you’ve agreed to the quote, the funeral director will arrange the service. They’ll be in contact throughout this time to ask any questions or let you know if there’s anything else they need you to do.
Tip: It’s fine to change funeral director. Even if you’ve already arranged for a funeral director to collect the body of the person who has died, you don’t have to use them to arrange the service. If you’ve changed your mind, it’s okay. Learn more about how to change funeral directors.
Another option: choosing a funeral without a service
Simple funerals aren’t the only type of low-cost funeral. If you don’t want a ceremony at all, an unattended funeral could be the right choice. This is a simple cremation or burial with no service – instead, the cremation or burial takes place without any mourners, music or readings.
Some people choose a direct burial or cremation to save money. They’re among the cheapest funeral options in the UK. In 2021, a direct cremation cost £1,647 on average (SunLife).
Others choose them because they don’t want a lot of fuss when they die. Remember: you can always hold an informal event to celebrate the life of the person who has died. And you’ll still have the ashes or a grave site to remember them by.