How to Plan a Funeral

Planning a funeral for a loved one can be hard, but it is something that is normally expected of the next of kin. Most people in the United Kingdom will turn to a funeral director for assistance; however the next of kin will still need to make some choices to help to add personal touches to the day. Here is some guidance on how to plan a funeral.

Registering the Death

A funeral cannot normally take place until the death has been registered. In order to do this, you will require a death certificate which has been signed by a medical professional. This certificate will state the cause of death. In rare circumstances, such as those where the cause of death is disputed, the body may have to be examined by a coroner before it can be released. The death certificate must then be shown to the local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Storing the Deceased

In most cases, the deceased will be immediately released to the family or next of kin. The majority of deceased persons are released to a funeral director who will keep the body in a chapel of rest until the day of the funeral. However, there is no requirement for the body to be kept at one of these locations. In fact, the remains of the deceased can be kept anywhere as long as public health regulations are not breached. It is possible to keep the body at home, and this option is favoured by many of those who are planning non-Christian religious funerals where special rites must be performed.

Choosing a coffin

There are hundreds of different types of coffin to choose from. A basic wooden lined coffin is the simplest option, but more exquisite options are also available.

Alternative caskets are also green-coffinbecoming more popular, including cardboard, wool, wicker, and sea grass. Coffin Covers may also be used. These are temporary covers which can be used to improve the appearance of a biodegradable coffin during the public portion of the ceremony. They can then be removed before the cremation or burial. They are a great option for those who would prefer biodegradable options but are worried about the appearance.

Choose a Celebrant and Venue

A celebrant is the person who will lead the funeral service. Many people will choose a religious leader who represents the beliefs of the deceased. In the United Kingdom, every person has the right to a funeral in their local parish church, and this will normally be led by a member of the clergy. Other faith leaders may be able to lead the ceremony for people of their religion. Alternatively, a humanist or non-religious celebrant can lead the ceremony of someone who did not hold religious beliefs.

The choice of venue and the celebrant often strongly linked. For example, if you wish for the funeral to take place in a religious venue, then a representative (vicar, rabbi etc) will normally take on the role of leading the service. If you do not want to arrange a religious ceremony, there are plenty of other options available. Most crematoria have a small chapel, hall or function suite where the service can take place. A funeral director may be able to suggest alternative venues or celebrants. Some people even choose to hold the ceremony at their own home. You will also need to decide whether you want to arrange a gathering after the ceremony.

Informing Mourners

A funeral is an important time for the friends and family of the deceased. In order for them to pay their respects at the funeral, it is important that you spread the word to tell people of the date and time. If the deceased had an address book, you may be able to use this to contact friends who might wish to attend. Being able to contact a few people will allow them to tell others in their friendship network. Alternative methods of alerting potential mourners to the date and time of the funeral include using social media accounts and placing an announcement in the local print media.


You may wish to arrange flowers or a floral tribute. Flowers are a very personal touch and you may wish to speak to a florist about creating an arrangement that perfectly represents your loved one. You can also ask other mourners to bring flowers. Some people prefer to ask for donations in lieu of flowers.


The deceased will need to be transported to the ceremony in a safe vehicle. This is normally done in a hearse. The next of kin may also wish to arrange a funeral car or cars for close friends and family members. Funeral cars are normally able to accommodate around 6 or 7 mourners, but they add an extra cost. You may arrange alternative transportation.