Do you have to use a funeral director?

Although the majority of funerals held in the UK are arranged through funeral directors, it is possible to organise one yourself. If you choose to arrange a funeral without a funeral director, there are a number of key elements that you’ll need to take into consideration.

There are two ways you can arrange a funeral without a funeral director.

You can go straight to a provider like Distinct Cremations who will take care of all the funeral arrangements and keep costs to a minimum.

Or you could have a DIY funeral and take care of all the organisation yourself such as arranging the care, purchasing the coffin and booking the crematorium.

In this article, we'll look at what a funeral director does, explore your options including direct cremation, and explain all of the arrangements that will need to be taken care of if you were to arrange a cremation without a funeral director.

What does a funeral director do?

A funeral director is there to arrange a funeral and provide compassionate support for recently bereaved families, offering guidance on what types of funerals are possible and organising the arrangements around the family's wishes.

A funeral director will also let the family know what paperwork needs to be completed and will help them to complete it. They will also take on almost full responsibility for the administrative duties, such as managing legal requirements and death notices.

On the day of the funeral, the funeral director will typically lead the procession and is responsible for making sure the day runs smoothly, overseeing transportation and supervising the cremation or burial.

The differences between a funeral director and the alternative

There are a number of positives and negatives associated with using a funeral director. A funeral director really can help with support and guidance at the time of need, but that does come at an expense and that's why simple funerals are becoming much more of an attractive option.

Using a funeral director

Organising yourself
Using Distinct Cremations
Average cost of a funeral with a funeral director is £4,141* DIY funeral costs can be kept low by sourcing and coordinating everything yourself The cost of a no fuss funeral with Distinct Cremations starts at £1,099
On the day of the funeral, the funeral director will be there to make sure things run smoothly and will lead the procession You will have to book the venue of the funeral yourself and arrange transportation of the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery We will book the crematorium and arrange transportation, and with a direct cremation no service organisation will be needed
A funeral director will help provide guidance on funeral options, floral tributes and arranging a memorial service Without a funeral director, the family has the freedom and flexibility to organise a funeral exactly how they would like Our funeral team will provide guidance on funeral options and give you the flexibility to organise the funeral your way
Administrative duties will be adhered to, such as the organisation of the transportation and requests from the cemetery or crematorium A funeral organised can be more of a family affair where relatives can be pallbearers, but all administrative duties will have to be done by the family We will take care of the administrative duties, organisation and we will help with the legal paperwork that needs to be completed
Legal requirements and death notices will be managed by a funeral director on behalf of the family The family can create their own funeral notice but they will have to do the legal paperwork by themselves We can offer guidance on the legal requirements and give you guidance how to manage your own funeral notice

* SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024, sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costs

The differences between a simple funeral and a traditional funeral

If you're taking care of the funeral arrangements yourself, it's likely that you'll be opting for something a little bit more simple than a traditional funeral, and there are benefits to that.

Choosing a simple funeral or an unattended funeral instead of a traditional funeral lets you celebrate a loved one’s life however you wish, with less stress and no fuss.

You can see the key differences between a simple funeral and a traditional funeral in more detail below.

Cremation with Distinct
A simple funeral with Distinct Cremations

The contemporary, simple, fuss-free farewell, free of tradition

  • A choice of two options: an unattended cremation with no mourners present or an attended cremation
  • A compassionate, attentive team there 24/7 for your questions and support with paperwork
  • A service free of pomp and ceremony
  • You can organise a separate memorial service that's personal and unique to your loved one
  • On average 73% cheaper⊛ than a traditional funeral, with prices starting from just £1,099


⊛ 73% saving is based on the cost of a basic funeral at £4,141 (SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024, sunlife.co.uk/ funeral-costs) vs the cost of a Distinct Cremations direct cremation at £1,099.

Traditional Funeral
Traditional funeral

A fixed format funeral, with a set service

  • A set format 20-50 minute service held in a traditional setting like a church or chapel with mourners present
  • Traditionally less personal and flexible
  • Option to have a procession with a hearse and limousines
  • Funeral and service coordination from a funeral director
  • Costs on average £4,141# for a basic funeral





    # The average cost of a basic funeral in 2023 (SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024, sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costs)

Arrange a funeral today

Whether you're wanting to arrange a funeral today, planning for the future with a prepaid funeral plan, or looking for something else, our customer service specialists are here for you 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.

Ask a question today or call us on 01543212000.
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The roles within a cremation funeral

There are a few different roles that will need to be fulfilled if you are planning on taking on the responsibility of arranging a cremation yourself. If you are arranging a burial, the process will change somewhat.

Here are the six things you'll need to do:

If your loved one dies in a care home or at a hospital, it’s likely that they’ll have the facilities to care for the deceased until the funeral provider arrives. If you’re arranging the cremation yourself without the support of a funeral provider, they may be able to care for the deceased until the day of the service but you'll have to check with them directly. They’ll also be able to provide a medical death certificate which you will pay £82 for.


If a person passes away at home, you’ll need to phone an ambulance or your doctor so that a death certificate can be provided. You’ll also need to make arrangements to care for the deceased until the funeral.

You’ll need to officially register the death within five days in England and Wales, or within eight days in Scotland. In order to register the death, you’ll need to have a signed medical death certificate from a doctor.


This is a really important step as you won’t be able to make any funeral arrangements until the death has been registered. Once the death has been registered, you’ll receive the documentation you need in order to proceed with the cremation.


If you need more information or assistance with registering a death, visit the government websites for England and Wales or Scotland depending on where you are.

For the cremation, you’ll need to decide on a coffin for the deceased to rest in. Coffins can be as complex or simple as your budget and preference allows. Today, coffins can be made from anything from cardboard and wicker to traditional oak. The cheapest coffin will cost around £199 for a cardboard coffin.


However, if you don’t wish to use a coffin, some crematoria do allow the deceased to be cremated in a simple shroud. If you do wish to go ahead with a shrouded cremation, you’ll need to arrange and agree this in advance with your chosen crematorium.


You can also choose an urn to house your loved one’s ashes after the cremation has taken place.

Once you’ve chosen a crematorium and agreed on how to proceed, you can purchase your coffin or shroud and start making the funeral arrangements. This fee you will have to pay to the crematorium will likely cost anywhere between £300 and £750 depending on where you are in the country and the type of service you'd like.


In order to finalise the cremation booking, you’ll need to complete a few final pieces of paperwork. The chapel attendants and crematorium staff may be able to help you with this.


You’ll also be able to discuss any additional needs or preferences you may have with the crematorium. These will include things like the service order, the number of attendees, the date and time of the funeral, and arrangements for any music and readings.

With a crematorium chosen and your service booked in, you’ll need to arrange transport for the deceased to the crematorium.


While bodies are traditionally transported in specialist hearses, you can transport them in any suitable vehicle - this could be a car, a van, a private ambulance, or even on the back of a motorbike.


Choosing something personal can be especially poignant if the deceased was well known for their association with a certain vehicle during their life. But bear in mind the cost will be higher for something a little quirkier.

Although most funerals are steeped in tradition, they don’t have to be. If you don’t feel certain elements of a traditional funeral would be right you don’t have to include them. The funeral can be as personal as you want it to be, only including the things you feel are important to the deceased and their loved ones.


In fact, you don’t have to have a funeral at all if you don’t want to. A simple direct cremation separates the act of cremation from the funeral, letting you say goodbye when you’re ready. You can have a simple scattering of the ashes or a memorial service surrounded by the deceased’s family and friends.


If you do wish to have a funeral, you’ll need to decide who’ll lead the service. You can choose to lead it yourself along with family and friends or ask an independent funeral celebrant or religious leader to lead it.

The steps involved in a direct cremation with Distinct Cremations

Though it can be done, it does take a lot of effort to arrange a funeral yourself and it isn't always the cheaper option.

Here at Distinct Cremations, our direct cremation starts from just £1,099 and we take care of all the arrangements. From arranging the funeral to making sure all your paperwork has been filled in correctly. From the collection of the deceased, right through to the hand-delivery of the ashes. And everything in between.

With expert guidance on-hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our customer service and funeral teams at Distinct Cremations will help with all your funeral arrangements as you need them, when you need them.

Funeral planning is never an easy task, but our team can help ease the load.

We’re here for you 24/7. You can call us on 0808 134 5865 before a passing to give you and your loved ones time to prepare or you can call us when the time comes. All we need from you is some basic information to start getting your cremation arrangements in place.

Our caring team will collect the deceased from anywhere in the mainland UK, whether your loved one is at home, in a care home or at a hospital. The deceased will be then taken to our professional mortuary facilities before cremation.

We will prepare your loved one for cremation, bathe them, remove any artificial items and dress your loved one upon request. We will then lay them to rest in the coffin, transport them to the crematorium and we will inform you of the date of cremation.

The cremation will take place at one of our 40 crematoriums in the UK. The coffin is taken through the front door, rested on the catafalque while a song of your choice is played or a moment of silence is respected, then the cremation takes place.

The ashes will be hand-delivered back to you within 14 days or scattered in the garden of remembrance upon request. You may then like to arrange a memorial service to commemorate the life of your loved one.

Other helpful articles

Below are a few further articles that you may be interested in.

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Sue Arrange

At Distinct Cremations, we provide non traditional funerals which are simple to arrange, affordable and delivered with care, dignity and respect. Prices start from just £1,099 if you need to arrange a funeral today.

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Funeral alternatives

Group toasting a friend's memory

Alternatives to a traditional funeral have become much more popular in recent years. In this article we outline the different options available and why people are opting for something a little bit different.

Alternatives to a traditional funeral

Choosing a provider

Older couple looking at tablet

Choosing a funeral provider is never easy, so we've created a table comparing the best funeral providers' key features and inclusions to help you compare, contrast and choose the right funeral provider for you.

Compare funeral providers

We offer the highest level of support, but don't take our word for it

Below are a selection of reviews from those who have arranged a funeral or purchased a funeral plan through Distinct Cremations.

"Smooth and straightforward purchase with plenty of contact and feedback."

“Easy to use and very helpful. Very easy to use their services and always called with updates. Sorry to say I've had to use their services twice now and I've already booked my own service. On both times I've used this service I've been kept informed by calls to everything going on. All my requests were made to feel like no trouble whatsoever, happy to help attitude made what was a very emotional time pass with no problems. Ty to all the teams involved"

"Quick and easy to arrange. Very good value. The information pack arrived days after I made my enquiry. It was so easy to arrange the plan that I wanted. The follow up call was very reassuring. I am very happy with the service provided."

"Already recommended to other family members. Easy to access and apply for a plan at a good price, and even better, in 20 years time there will be no additional cost. It's not a subject that anyone wants to think about but now I have it sorted it has given me peace of mind knowing my family won't have the worry or cost when that time comes, now I can forget it and enjoy many more years, highly recommended. Hassle free application that was completed in minutes but I'm not planning on using this plan anytime soon!!"

"I was very pleased with the prompt efficient service that I got, everything was explained to me, and the paperwork was easy to understand, and there was no pressure put on me for a decision. I would most certainly recommended this company for price and efficiency."

“Happy with everything. We were well pleased with the consultant Sarah Mills she was very helpful and made us feel very confident that we were doing the right thing about our funeral plan."

"Positive without being pushy. Easy to understand the scheme, helpful brochure and a realistic price. The staff I contacted were polite and professional. Great value. An ideal alternative for those of us who don't want a lot of fuss."

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