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Funeral procession etiquette


Organising a funeral

Funeral processions can form an important part of a funeral service and can often bring comfort to family and friends saying goodbye to a loved one. If you would like to include a funeral procession in your loved one’s send off, this guide will explain everything you need to know.

What is a funeral procession? 

Typically led by a hearse, a funeral procession comprises family and close friends following the coffin of their loved one as it is taken to its final resting place.

Also known as a funeral cortege, a traditional funeral procession will begin at the funeral home or at the home of the person who has passed away. It can sometimes include two stages; this is often the case if the funeral service and the committal are being held at separate venues.

Funeral directors often lead the cortege on foot for a short distance before getting into the hearse. Upon arrival at the place of worship, cemetery, or crematorium, they will lead the cortege on foot once more.

Funeral cortege etiquette

If you are driving in a funeral procession, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to adhere to proper funeral cortege etiquette.

Driving in a funeral procession

Here are five rules you should follow if you are driving in a funeral procession:

  1. Arrive early

Try and arrive at the funeral home or at the home of the person who has passed away early. This will allow you to park up and receive any necessary instructions from the funeral director; this may include information about the order the cars will be travelling in.

  1. Check the route

It will be beneficial to check the funeral procession route beforehand, just in case you get separated from the funeral cars in front at any point during the journey.

  1. Drive slowly and safely

A funeral procession will typically move at about 20 miles per hour. You should try and keep to the same speed as the vehicle in front and follow The Highway Code rules, as you normally would.

  1. Stay close to the car in front

It’s recommended that you drive as close as you can to the car in front, whilst leaving a safe braking distance between you. If you do get split up at any point, try not to panic. You should continue following the route to where the funeral service is being held.

  1. Ensure sufficient parking is available

It may be worth double checking whether parking is available at the venue where the service is being held. This will ensure you can park up and arrive at the funeral in good time.

Funeral procession order

A hearse will typically lead the funeral procession, followed by chauffeur-driven limousines carrying immediate family and close friends. Other guests who are attending the funeral may also travel behind the funeral procession.

The family of the deceased may decide on the order in which the funeral procession enters the place of worship or crematorium. The officiant will usually lead the procession and pallbearers carrying the coffin tend to follow. Immediate family and close friends will often walk behind the coffin, followed by other guests.

Encountering a funeral procession

Whilst there are no specific laws in the UK regarding funeral processions, there are certain rules which you should try and follow. If you witness a hearse leading a funeral procession whilst on the road, be considerate and respectful.

Here are some tips for drivers who encounter a funeral procession:

  • Give way to the hearse and funeral cars
  • Don’t cut into a funeral procession
  • Avoid listening to loud music
  • Don’t beep your horn
  • Only overtake a procession on a dual carriageway

If you encounter a funeral procession whilst walking, try not to cross the road in front of the hearse or funeral cars. You may also choose to stop and bow your head as the funeral procession passes; this is often seen as a nice gesture and sign of respect.

Choosing a route for the funeral cortege to take

If you are planning a funeral, you should inform those who are travelling in the funeral procession where it will be starting from. This will ensure everyone is ready to leave for the funeral service on time.

It is also possible to choose a specific route for the procession to take. The journey may comprise treasured memories or personal landmarks that were of significance to your loved one.

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