What is a simple funeral service?

What is a simple funeral? And what does it include? In this article, we’ll look at the differences between simple and traditional funerals. You’ll also get a clearer idea of the average cost of a simple funeral so you can make an informed decision about whether this type of funeral is right for you. 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. That means there’re no extras like limousines and pallbearers. For this reason, simple funerals are sometimes called basic funerals.

Simple funerals are a more affordable option compared to traditional funerals. Some people choose this type of basic funeral service to save money, while others just prefer a straightforward, no-fuss funeral ceremony.

Read our guide to traditional funerals for a clearer idea of the difference between a simple funeral and traditional funeral.

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.

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.

What’s the difference between a simple funeral and 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 funeral service 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.

How much does a simple funeral cost?

How much is a simple funeral exactly? The cost of a simple funeral will vary based on where you live, the funeral director you choose and any extras you add. Below we’ve put together a sample of simple funeral costs across the UK* to give you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay.

Area in the UK Example of simple funeral cost
Glasgow £1,750
Sheffield £2,449
Birmingham £2,695
‍Essex £2,245

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 to include. They can advise you on the basic funeral packages they provide. But remember that there may also be third party costs you need to pay that aren’t included in the overall price.

Learn more about simple funeral costs near you

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.

Is a simple funeral the right option?

If you’re not sure if a simple funeral is the right option for you or a loved one, here are a few things to consider:

A simple funeral might be the right choice if:

  • The person who died wanted a simple no-frills funeral
  • 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

Knowing how to plan a simple funeral may not come naturally, especially if you haven’t organised a funeral before. But planning a simple funeral is very similar to planning a traditional funeral. Here are some ideas on how to get started:

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. A direct cremation cost £1,511 in 2022 compared to £1,647 in 2021 (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.

For more info, read our guide: what is direct cremation?

Another option: simple funeral plans

If you’re thinking about how you’d like your funeral to look and how to pay for it in advance, a simple funeral plan might be the right option. This might also help you tell your family that you’d prefer a basic funeral without a lot of fuss. A pre-paid simple funeral plan will give you the opportunity to choose the basic funeral package you want and pay for it at today’s costs. Read our article on funeral plans to see if it’s the right option for you.

Funeral Choice helps people find local funeral directors. You can read more helpful articles in our advice centre. 


*Prices gathered 2nd March 2023 and based on costs from the following funeral directors: