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The day of the funeral: step-by-step guide

Making arrangements before the funeral

Once you have chosen your local Dignity Funeral Director, one of our caring and experienced arrangers will invite you to visit us at a time of your choosing in order to make all of the necessary arrangements. We are more than happy to visit you at your own home, if that’s what you would prefer to do.

Your funeral arranger will spend time getting to know you, helping you decide on the most fitting tribute, honouring any final wishes and ensuring that it has your own personal touch. If you’re unsure of what to expect on the day, we will talk it through with you, step by step.

Our funeral homes provide private and tranquil Chapels of Rest where you can spend some time with your loved one and say your last goodbyes. We can arrange for these to be personalised with items to reflect the life of your loved one. We will be able to arrange a suitable day and time for you to visit; often a few days before the service takes place.

Once you are happy that all of your requirements have been met, we will introduce you to the Funeral Director who will be conducting your loved one's funeral. Your Funeral Director may call you the day before the funeral to confirm all final details and to answer any questions you may still have. 

It's important to send details of the time and venue of the service to all guests who are attending beforehand. 

Find out how to plan a funeral service.

Preparations on the day

Across the UK, our Funeral Directors have a fleet of luxury limousines to take family and friends to the funeral service safely and on time.

We will ensure your loved one has been prepared in accordance with your wishes, before carefully transferring their coffin or casket into one of our high quality hearses. If you have chosen a floral tribute, flowers or a portrait of your loved one for the funeral, these may also be placed inside the hearse.

Our Funeral Directors will check all routes to ensure you arrive at the service on time and we will provide sufficient pallbearers who will respectfully carry the coffin into the church or crematorium just before the beginning of the service.

Funeral procession

The funeral procession typically begins at the home of the person who has sadly passed away, though you may choose a different location if you wish. Your chosen Funeral Director will arrive in good time, ensuring you can view any flowers and floral tributes before leaving for the service.

You will need to arrange for family and friends who are travelling in the limousines or guests who wish to follow the funeral procession to arrive at your home or the home or wherever the procession will start. 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. This may be comprised of a journey which includes treasured memories or personal landmarks.

When you are ready to leave, we will escort you and your family to our chauffeur driven limousines and ensure you have everything you need for the service. Our Funeral Directors often lead the cortege on foot for a short distance before getting into the hearse. Upon arrival at the church or crematorium, they will lead the cortege on foot once more.

For further information, please read our guide on funeral procession etiquette.

Arriving at the church or crematorium 

Your Funeral Director will ensure every detail has been taken care of in advance, from any music you have requested to the order of service sheets. They will co-ordinate with the person who is conducting the service and meet with the chapel attendants to ensure all arrangements are in place.

We will provide sufficient pallbearers and ensure they escort the coffin with dignity and respect. If you wish to select your own pallbearers, the Funeral Director will be able to oversee these arrangements and ensure everything runs smoothly.

The Funeral Director will often lead you into the church or crematorium, walking either in front or behind the coffin before it is placed upon a wooden platform known as a catafalque. We will make sure that all of your guests have arrived before proceeding with the funeral service.

The funeral ceremony

The order of the funeral ceremony will be completely up to you, though please keep in mind that there may be a time limit at the venue you have chosen. The service may include funeral music, funeral hymns, prayers, funeral poems and readings from family and close friends.

The funeral ceremony can be held at a religious venue or at a crematorium which provides a chapel for you to use. 

The Funeral Director may stand just outside or at the back of the church or crematorium during the service. Once the service has finished, you will be taken over to where flowers and floral tributes have been laid, before escorting you and your family to the committal service, if you are having one. 

Learn more about funeral etiquette in the UK.

Committal service

Whether your loved one is buried or cremated, you may wish to have a committal service after the main funeral service.The committal service may be held at the same location as the service which proceeded it.

If it is being held at a different location, we will escort you and your family back to your limousines and the coffin or casket will be carefully placed back in the hearse. Your Funeral Director will walk with you if the cemetery or crematorium is close by. 


What happens at a cremation?

At a cremation, you may wish to hold the main service at a religious venue and then have a shorter committal service at the crematorium afterwards, though both may take place at the crematorium if you wish. During a committal, there may be a closing of curtains, or the coffin may be gently lowered from the catafalque and moved into a committal room so it is ready for cremation. 


What happens at a burial?

At a burial, the committal service typically takes place at the graveside of your loved one and may include prayers and readings. When you are ready to say goodbye to the deceased, the coffin or casket is lowered into the ground. You may scatter soil onto the coffin or throw flowers into the grave as it is lowered.

When the committal service concludes, we will give you enough time to place floral tributes next to the grave or in the crematorium's garden of remembrance and pay your final respects. You will have time to speak to guests outside before being escorted back to your limousines when you are ready to leave for the wake or reception, if one has been organised.


The wake or funeral reception

You may wish to hold a wake or funeral reception after the funeral service. A wake often celebrates the life of the deceased and is typically less formal than the ceremony which precedes it.

If you are unsure of where to hold the wake, your Funeral Director will be able to provide of list of local venues which you may wish to choose from.

Following the funeral service, our caring professionals will drive you and your family to the chosen venue. We suggest including details of the wake and directions to the venue on the order of service sheets which are handed out to guests.

Your Funeral Director will answer any final questions you may have before leaving, allowing you to gather with family and friends for some refreshments.  


The days that follow a funeral

Our caring and experienced funeral arrangers will call you the day after your loved one’s funeral to ensure everything went smoothly and the service was exactly how you wanted it to be. We can arrange to return any flowers or funeral wreaths to you, or place them in the crematorium's garden of remembrance or by your loved one’s grave if you wish.

If your loved one was cremated, we can arrange a day for you to collect the ashes and provide useful advice on the scattering or burying them, should you need it. At Dignity, we have a range of ashes urns and caskets to choose from.

We also have a selection of memorials; your Funeral Director will be able to talk you through all of your available options and help you with your decision.

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'Arranging a funeral'

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After the Funeral

There will still be a number of things that need to be considered once your loved one's funeral has been conducted.

To help, we've put together several guides on what you need to do after the funeral. From choosing a memorial to dealing with finances, to grief and bereavement support.

Helping you every step of the way

Our useful guides will help you arrange a fitting funeral for your loved one

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