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Planning a funeral service

A funeral service is a chance to honour the person that has died and reflect on their life, values and beliefs. It can be an occasion for mourning, reflecting and celebrating the life your loved one led.

A Family Led Funeral from Simplicity allows you to arrange a personalised, family-led funeral service, whilst we take care of the essential and practical elements of the funeral.


How to plan a funeral service

Our Family Led Funeral encourages you to organise a personalised funeral service that is befitting of your loved one's life and character. As the Family Led Funeral is arranged without any face to face interaction from a Funeral Director, there is no procession, hearse or limousines (sometimes referred to a pre-ceremony). Instead, the focus of the funeral is the service, arranged by you and your family.

If you are responsible for planning the funeral service for a loved one’s funeral, and have chosen the Family Led Funeral, you should allow for around 30 minutes in the crematorium’s chapel. This will allow for ample time for attendees to calmly enter and exit. Upon your arrival at the crematorium, your loved one’s coffin will be resting on the catafalque in the chapel. You will be welcomed inside by a chapel attendant.

This article will guide you through the process of planning a funeral service:

1. Choose a type of service
2. Decide who will lead the service
3. Include funeral music
4. Include funeral readings
5. Include poems
6. Ask a friend or family member to prepare a eulogy
7. Create an order of service
8. Consider flowers or charitable donations
9. Consider funeral attire
10. Organise a wake


Choose a type of service

The first step of planning a funeral service is to think about what type of service you would like for your loved one. Although funeral services have in the past been very traditional in nature, this is no longer always the case.

Planning a funeral service is now more of a personal process, with funeral services shaped around the deceased’s life, religious or spiritual beliefs or family traditions.

Honouring life with personal touches and details can create a meaningful and lasting remembrance, whether that's by adding small details or planning a more elaborate affair; how the service is planned is completely up to you.


Who will lead the funeral service?

An important thing to consider when organising a funeral service is who will conduct the service. Although most funerals are lead by a celebrant or minister, anyone can perform a funeral service.

If you decide you would like a family member or friend to lead the service, be sure whoever you ask is confident doing so. It is totally understandable that even the most confident of people may get upset whilst leading the service. In some cases, they may feel that they can’t continue the service, so it’s a good idea to have someone else in place who can continue the service until the family member feels composed enough to speak again.

If you'd like a religious figure to lead the ceremony or something a bit more formal, we can also provide guidance on finding a minister or officiant.

When organising a funeral of any kind, there will be a limit on the length of time allowed in the chapel. We’d recommend planning for around thirty minutes for the service itself, so there’s ample time to enter and exit the crematorium without feeling rushed, so you should ensure you have planned the service beforehand with whoever will be conducting the service.


Common elements of a funeral service

Every funeral service will be different, as it will be unique to the person who has died. A typical funeral service may include funeral music, eulogies and funeral poems and readings read by family and friends. You may have other ideas, especially if your loved one had any special hobbies or interests.

Funeral music

Funeral songs and music are a great way of personalising a funeral service. Music can be a powerful factor when processing grief. All of our crematoria feature a music system so you will have the ability to arrange a playlist of songs to play inside the chapel. It can be a nice touch to have your loved one’s favourite song playing as you enter or exit the chapel. If you need inspiration, read our guide on popular funeral songs in the UK.

At a Christian funeral service, traditionally there are two hymns sung; one hymn to open the service and a second as a closing hymn. Many people also find comfort in including funeral hymns in their loved one’s funeral service, even if their loved one was not of Christian faith. Several hymns have remained popular song choices for funerals over the years.

See our list of popular funeral hymns for ideas.

Ask a family member or friend to prepare a eulogy

It is common to feature a eulogy as part of the order of service, as a tribute to your loved one. You should consider asking someone who knew your loved one well, so they’ll be able to say something appropriate and fitting. It can be quite an honour to be asked to speak at a funeral, although some people may prefer not to, as it can take a lot of confidence to stand up and speak in front of a large congregation.

You may find our guide to writing a eulogy helpful.

Funeral readings

Although whoever is leading the funeral service will do most of the speaking, it’s common for a loved one to read a few words. This is often in addition to the eulogy.

Bible readings are an important part of a funeral service for those of Christian faith. If religious readings weren’t in the interests of your loved one, a reading from their favourite book or even lyrics from a song might be more appropriate.

If you've got multiple friends and family members who would like to say something, then several shorter readings rather than one longer funeral reading may be a good option.

See our list of popular funeral readings for inspiration.

Funeral poems

Like funeral songs and readings, a funeral poem can provide comfort as well as serving as a touching reminder of a loved one. We’ve created a guide to choosing a funeral poem, which includes a collection of short poems, happy poems and religious funeral poems.

You do not have to choose a traditional funeral poem; writing your own funeral poem means you can make it as personal as you like. You can include memories shared with your loved one, their hobbies and interests and their personality traits.

Share memories of your loved one

There are lots of ways of sharing memories at a funeral. A photo memory board can be a nice touch for everyone to share photos of happy times with the departed. By asking family and friends for pictures, you should hopefully collect a range of photos covering the course of their life, as different people might have known them best at different times. This is a nice way to highlight the person’s life and accomplishments.

Taking this one step further, you could dedicate part of the service so mourners can share memories and stories with the congregation. In a 2018 independent survey, 41% of people said they’d like a family member or friend to share a loving story about them at their funeral. Alternatively, you could leave paper and pens on the seats so guests can write memories and place them into a memory box at the end of the service for you to read at a later date.


Plan the funeral order of service

A funeral order of service provides an outline of what will happen throughout the service. It is often a printed 4-page booklet that is handed out to mourners as they enter the chapel or resting on seats before they enter. Each order of service will be different as it is personalised for your loved one.

An order of service sheet may include:

- Hymns
- Songs
- Readings
- Poems
- Photographs

Read our guide on how to create a funeral order of service.


Funeral flowers or charitable donations

Many people choose to arrange funeral flowers and floral tributes to create a personal tribute to a loved one, often in the form of a coffin spray or letter tributes (such as ‘MUM or ‘NAN’). Most florists are experienced with funerals and will be happy to assist in talking through the options that are available to you. You can also purchase funeral flowers via the internet. If you are arranging a Family Led Funeral, we’d advise you have the flowers delivered to the crematorium on the day of the funeral.

It used to be common for mourners attending a funeral to send flowers to the funeral as a tribute to the deceased but the practice is becoming less common, with many families now asking for charitable donations instead of flowers. If you would like to request donations in lieu of flowers, you can include this request in any newspaper obituary notice, along with details of the chosen charity. Some families choose to leave the choice of charity to individual mourners.


Funeral attire

Opting for alternative funeral attire is a really easy way to personalise a funeral. It’s becoming a popular request to ask mourners to dress in bright colours or even your loved one’s favourite colour, instead of traditional mourning colours.

When making funeral arrangements you should give attendees as much notice as possible, if you wish for them to dress in a particular way.


Organise a wake

When arranging a funeral for your loved one, you may want to consider holding a reception after the service. A funeral reception, or wake is a more informal chance to pay your respects to someone who has died. Funeral wakes are less formal than the service, offering a place for the bereaved to gather, share stories of a loved one, and celebrate their life.

It isn’t compulsory to arrange a wake for after the funeral, although it is a widely held custom. People may choose to attend the wake if they cannot attend the funeral; while some guests who were at the funeral may be unable to attend the wake.

Learn more about organising a wake.


Arrange a Family Led Funeral with Simplicity Cremations

With a Simplicity Cremation, there's no need to follow tradition. Our Family Led Funeral encourages you to organise a personalised ceremony that is befitting of your loved one's life and character.

Honouring life with personal touches and details can create a meaningful and lasting remembrance, whether that's by adding small details or planning a more elaborate affair; how the service is planned is completely up to you. 

To arrange a Family Led Funeral for your loved one, contact us today. Our helpful team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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0800 484 0531