Making a booking
You will need to book the funeral service as soon as possible to ensure availability. It is usual for a funeral to take place about a week after a person dies in order to allow time for the arrangements to be made.
The deceased person may well have left specific wishes as to the type of service, the location and other details that they wanted. In the absence of such wishes you will be responsible for the arrangements.
If you have appointed a funeral director they will be able to help you as they will know the local clergy and details of other appropriate people and will be able to make the bookings.
You will then need to liaise with the person who is going to officiate at the funeral service to agree the format and the content for the service. They will be able to advise you on such matters as whether to book an organist, a choir etc. For help making the decisions regarding a funeral, please see our separate section on Arranging a Funeral.
Choosing a type of service
There is no actual legal requirement as to the form the funeral service should take or indeed to have a funeral ceremony at all. Once the death certificate has been signed and registration of the death has taken place, it is up to the family to decide how to mark the committal.
Most people still opt for a traditional religious ceremony. The Church of England estimates that they conduct about 80% of funeral services. Increasingly, however, families want a more personalised funeral with music and readings that reflects more closely the individual and the life they led. This may be in the context of either a religious service or another type of ceremony.
Funeral service in church
If you want to arrange a funeral service in church, you will need to speak to the incumbent of the parish (this is the general name given in the Church of England to the minister of a living and is usually either a vicar or a rector).
If you want to arrange a Roman Catholic funeral, then you will need to speak to the priest of the parish where you want the funeral service to take place
The incumbent or priest will be able to help you with all the funeral service arrangements. When speaking to a vicar or rector, you should address them as ‘Reverend’ and their last name. When speaking to a Roman Catholic priest, you should address them as ‘Father’ and their first and/or last name.
Non religious funeral service
Over 30,000 funerals in Britain each year are non-religious ceremonies. These celebrations of life are becoming increasingly common as people become more willing to admit they are non believers.
The British Humanist Association will arrange a local secular officiant (sometimes called a celebrant) if a non-religious or civil funeral is wanted.
If you are looking to arrange a non religious funeral service, we suggest that as a first step you contact the British Humanist Association.
A family can make all the arrangements themselves including the style and content of the ceremony. The service can be religious or non religious in content but with much more participation by family and friends.
For a home funeral, we suggest that as a first step you contact the Natural Death Centre.
The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.