How to Plan a Funeral

When someone you love dies, the last thing you want to think about is planning their funeral. We know it can be very overwhelming and stressful when emotions are already high, so we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to planning a funeral to make it a little bit easier.

The First Steps

When planning a funeral, it helps to know if there are any funeral instructions in the will and if there are any savings, life insurance or pre-paid funeral plans in place to pay for the funeral. If there isn’t, you will need to decide how you will pay for it.

It’s always a good idea to ask for help when planning a funeral, as it can be a difficult time for you to grieve and plan alone. Speak to family members and close friends who may want to be involved in the funeral details. You can also hire a funeral director to help you organise the funeral, and they’ll take you through the whole process step by step.

Choose a Funeral Director

A funeral director is responsible for arranging every part of a funeral, including the coffin, ceremony, burial, or cremation. This is one of the first decisions you will make when planning the funeral as this is an incredibly difficult time, and many decide to leave arrangements to a funeral director to take a weight off their shoulders. If your loved one had a funeral plan, funeral cover or a will, they may have chosen a funeral director already, but you can check for recommendations online or through friends and family.

To keep costs lower, it may be worth organising certain aspects yourself but having a funeral director there to lean on if you need them.

Decide on The Type of Funeral & Coffin

The next step in planning a funeral is deciding on which type of funeral you will go for. There are many different types of funerals, however, the most common types are burials, cremations and direct cremations.

After deciding on the type of funeral, it’s time to think about the coffin. When making your choice, you should consider:

  • The cost
  • The materials
  • Whether it’s environmentally friendly
  • The style
  • The taste of your loved one

It’s worth noting that if you have chosen cremation, there will be certain guidelines set by the crematorium, however, your funeral director will be able to show you a range of coffins suitable.

Determine Costs

In 2022, the average cost of a basic funeral is £4,056 making this 3.1% cheaper since 2020. However, this cost doesn’t include the optional extras like memorial flowers, wake or transport. The basic cost of a funeral should cover:

  • The funeral director’s fees
  • Doctor’s fees
  • Clergy or officiate fees
  • A plain, lined coffin
  • Transport of the deceased to the funeral director’s premises
  • The care of the deceased until the funeral which may include washing, dressing and laying out the body
  • A hearse
  • Making all other necessary arrangements

Although a funeral can be expensive, you can decide which services are essential and which are unnecessary. Some of the services you may want to avoid to save money or sort out elsewhere include:

  • Flowers
  • A more expensive coffin
  • An organist
  • Religious services
  • Burial or crematorium fee
  • Extra cars
  • Embalming
  • Memorial service
  • Catering arrangements

Funeral plans, funeral cover and life insurance can help pay for the funeral if the deceased has policies in place which could help save you money towards the funeral cost. If there is nothing in place, a relative or friend usually pays for the funeral.

Money Saving Tips When Planning a funeral

To cut the cost of your funeral, here are some things you can consider:

  • Choosing a direct cremation that includes no funeral service, no ceremony and no attendees. This is the cheapest option and allows you to organise a low-cost celebration of their life afterwards.
  • Choose a cheaper coffin such as cardboard coffins which start from £150 and are better for the environment.
  • Choose a cheaper material for the headstone. A granite headstone is much cheaper than marble or stone.
  • Have the wake at home instead of hiring a venue and caterer. You can also save money by making the food yourself.
  • Don’t splurge on flowers and ask for donations to charity instead. Flowers aren’t necessary and you can save a huge amount on funeral costs by limiting the amount or avoiding them altogether.

If you are struggling to pay for the funeral, you can speak to your funeral director for advice and see if they have options that could help you. Some charities may be able to help and it’s also worth checking if you are eligible for government funeral support.

Arrange Funeral Service

Before planning the funeral service, you should check if your loved one had any wishes that may be left in their will or funeral plan. For example, did they want certain songs to be played or a certain dress code?

There are different types of funeral services you can choose from, including:

  • A religious funeral
  • A cremation
  • A woodlands funeral
  • A Humanist and civic funeral
  • A burial at sea

During the funeral service, there are things you can do to make the funeral more personal to your family and loved one. Things like the music played, the order of service, dress code, flowers, poems and readings will all help to make the day more personal.

Pick the Venue, Date & Transport

Most funeral services are held at churches, chapels, places of worship or village halls. No matter where the funeral is held, it is usually conducted by the funeral director or minister, and sometimes even a relative or friend. Speak to your preferred venue and they will give details on upcoming availability.

When organising the transport, the coffin is taken to the service in a hearse which is then followed by friends and family in limousines. However, if you want to make the funeral service more personal, many modern funerals are choosing different transport like fire engines or vintage cars.

Plan Music & Readings

Funeral music and readings are a chance to make the service more personal. If your loved one was religious, choose their favourite hymns and bible passages. If they loved a certain style of music, choose their favourite songs for a less traditional funeral.

Readings by family and friends are a great way of commemorating the deceased. Poems found in books and online can perfectly summarise your loved one and the impact they had on the people around them.

Put Together an Order of Service

An order of service is a fitting tribute to your loved one and a keepsake for family and friends who attend the funeral service. It can contain the readings, hymns and prayers, commendations and farewells, photographs and anything else you feel important to include. It’s also a great idea to add details of the wake so attendees know where to go next.

Plan the Wake

The wake is the gathering following the funeral service where friends and family of the person who has died can get together to mourn their passing and celebrate their life. The wake can be held in various places from a relative’s own home to a social club or hotel. There is often catering included in the venue hire, but if not, you can hire caterers or save money by making the food yourself.

Once the wake is booked, you can let people know where the wake is being held and who is welcome to come – some like to keep this a private event whereas others leave it open to anyone who’d like to come.


Planning a funeral can be difficult, but by taking it one step at a time like in our guide, you may find the process a whole lot easier. It helps to talk to your friends and family and get help where you can to plan and pay.