Funeral Services

How to plan a funeral service

Whether you're wondering how to plan a funeral for a loved one or you're just unsure about planning your own funeral in advance, it's important that you take your time when making any key decisions. Our Funeral Directors will help take away the stress of planning a funeral, making sure your loved one's send-off is a personal and unique celebration of their life.

This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of planning a funeral:

  1. Choose a type of service
  2. Find a funeral director
  3. Pick a venue and date for the service
  4. Decide who will lead the service
  5. Consider what type of coffin you want
  6. Include music and readings
  7. Create an order of service
  8. Consider flowers or charitable donations
  9. Arrange funeral transport
  10. Write an obituary
  11. Organise a wake

  1. 1. Choose a type of service

You will need to think about what type of service you would like for your loved one. Funerals can be based around family traditions or religious preferences and can include anything you feel appropriate. Whether you choose a burial or cremation, we'll be there to make all of the arrangements on your behalf.

  1. 2. Find a funeral director

Choosing a funeral director will help ease the burden during such a difficult and emotional time. Our Funeral Directors will spend time getting to know you, helping you decide on the most fitting tribute, honouring any final wishes and making sure that it has your own personal touch.

Your professional and dedicated Funeral Director will be committed to setting superior standards and we promise to provide unrivalled support, reassurance and attention to detail when planning a funeral for your loved one. 

  1. 3. Pick a venue and date for the service

A funeral service can be held in any suitable venue. Common venues to hold a service include:

  • Crematorium chapel
  • Place of worship
  • Private home
  • Village hall

If you choose a religious service, the minister or officiant will guide you on what you can and can't do.

You will then need to choose a date for the funeral service. This can often depend on:

  • Funeral director and crematoria availability
  • Religious beliefs
  • Family circumstances

You may find our guide on when to have a funeral useful.

If you have a date and time in mind, please contact your local Dignity Funeral Director to discuss availability.

  1. 4. Decide who will lead the service

When you're planning a funeral, you'll need to decide who will lead the service. In theory, anyone can lead a funeral service. It could be:

  • Religious minister
  • Non-religious minister such as a humanist
  • The funeral director
  • A friend or relative

It's usual for the minister of a church to lead the service unless they allow someone else to. If you want to hold the service at the crematorium and would like a religious service, your local minister will be able to lead the service there for you. You can also use the crematorium chapel to hold a non-religious service.

  1. 5. Consider what type of coffin you want

Choosing a coffin or cremation urn for your loved one can often help with the bereavement process and is an important part of your funeral arrangements. You may also want to place personal items in the coffin or casket, so it's worth keeping this in mind when your funeral director is planning the service.

Common items to place inside a coffin include:

  • Photographs
  • Letters
  • Flowers

  1. 6. Include music and readings in the service

If you're in the unfortunate position of planning a funeral, remember that you can choose to personalise the service with readings and prayers. The person leading the service or a close friend will often say something about the person who has died. You can include poetry and passages, and friends and family can take part. If the person delivering the main tribute has never met the person who has died, make sure they know some personal details, especially the name they were known by.

You may wish to play a loved one's favourite piece of music at the funeral or choose a popular funeral poem to be read out by a close friend or relative. If the person who has passed away was religious, you could opt for some popular funeral hymns or Bible readings. 

Organising music to be played and readings to be spoken can bring real comfort to friends and family during such an upsetting time. You may also need to consider who will give the eulogy. Find out more about how to write a eulogy.

  1. 7. Create an order of service

You may like to provide a funeral order of service booklet. These are helpful for mourners and can be sent to people who can’t make the service. An order of service sheet may include:

  • Hymns
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Readings
  • Photographs

You can even tailor the order of service in the way you and your family prefer, helping to create a unique commemoration of your loved one's life. You could also place small attendance cards on the seats for mourners to fill in so you know who was there.

  1. 8. Consider flowers or charitable donations

Many people choose flowers and floral tributes to create a personal tribute to a loved one. You may choose an organisation or charity for people to give a donation to in lieu of flowers.

It is worth remembering that sending flowers can be a healing gesture for people who have lost someone close. Therefore it might be worth giving people the choice of sending flowers or donating money to a charity, or both.

  1. 9. Arrange funeral transport and choose a route for the procession 

On the day of the funeral, the hearse will take the coffin to the funeral service; it is usually followed by limousines which carry family and close friends. Choosing chauffeured limousines will mean you don't have to worry about parking, driving and getting to the service on time.

If you wish to make your loved one’s final journey even more personal, choosing a hearse or alternative mode of transport which celebrates their life can be a fitting tribute. You may also arrange a particular route for the funeral procession to take and may need to decide whether it will begin at the home of the person who has passed away, or a different location. 

  1. 10. Write an obituary or create an online Funeral Notice

Writing and publishing an obituary in a local newspaper will help you celebrate the life of your loved one and share details about the forthcoming funeral. After the funeral, you can also place a 'thank you' message in a newspaper to thank the people who attended and sent donations and flowers.

We offer an online Funeral Notice service, allowing you to share the details of the funeral with friends and family via email, Facebook and Twitter. 

  1. 11. Organise a wake or funeral reception

Organising a wake or funeral reception after the service will allow friends and family to gather and remember a loved one in a more relaxed and less formal environment. If you do choose to hold a wake, you'll need to consider:

  • Booking a suitable venue near to where the service was held
  • Providing food and drink for guests who are attending

Help and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call us on:

0800 456 1047

Useful guides for planning a funeral service

What steps are involved when planning a funeral service? These guides will help you and your family to create a fitting farewell. Discover how to plan a funeral that's right for your loved one.

Find a Funeral Director

Call us 24/7 on0800 456 1047
Find a Funeral Director