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Ultimate Guide to Funeral Etiquette in UK

As funeral directors, we often get asked about the correct etiquette at funerals in the United Kingdom, the order in which the service should take and so on. Our answer is always the same, let’s make this service what the family and of course the deceased would have wanted. Of course, a framework and a plan are necessary but there are many different types and formats during funerals these days that bespoke funerals seem to be the most fitting way to say goodbye.

There are many traditions but it is for a family to decide to celebrate the life of the deceased the way that they feel is appropriate to them. Some chose a non-religious service, whereas others follow the traditions in a church or place of worship. Both are equally as lovely a service. Lots of people are choosing not to wear traditional colours to funerals too, perhaps a toast to their loved ones with a glass of Prosecco or pausing in service to eat their favourite sweets.

A traditional rite of a Church of England funeral tends to look like this

The Gathering

On the day of the funeral, the immediate family gather at the deceased’s home or some other convenient location and follow the hearse to the place where the funeral service is to be held.

The Location

Other mourners will go directly to the place where the funeral service is to be held.

The coffin is usually carried by pall bearers supplied by the funeral director but may be carried by family or friends if they wish. The coffin is placed before the altar in a church, on a catafalque in a crematorium, or on trestles as necessary. The immediate family sits nearest the coffin.

The Service

The service may consist of music – you can read more about music here -, readings, hymns or songs, a eulogy, tributes, a period of reflection (and prayers) followed by a form of committal and some final words before departure. The exact order and content will depend upon the minister or celebrant and the wishes of the family. Some families now chose to have a “rolling picture show” during the service or to prepare an “Order of Service” which contains pictures of the deceased.

The Reception

Following the service families often go back to the deceased’s home or to a venue hall for refreshments. This may be a suitable opportunity to hear other tributes in memory of the deceased, to play their favourite music and perhaps have further pictures on display.

Flowers and Charities

Some families ask for floral tributes whilst others request donations to a charity in memory of the deceased.

I hope that this helps if you are currently planning a funeral, whatever you decide, whichever service or format of the day please remember it is about celebrating a life of someone that you love and paying your respects. There are no rules and of course, if you would like any advice or assistance we are always here to help

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