One of the many questions we get asked is ‘how long does cremation take?’ Luckily, it’s easy to answer. With over 30 years of experience behind us helping to provide exemplary funeral care to families across the UK, we’ve learned a thing or two about what happens at a cremation.

How long do cremations take?

Typically, it can take anywhere between 1-3 hours for a body to be cremated and this is all dependent on different factors such as the coffin material, size of the deceased and the temperature of the cremator. From there, there will be a cooling process which takes another 1-2 hours.

Then, depending on whether you are having an unattended cremation or a cremation with a few attendees, the duration of the cremation service will vary. To help you understand the process better, here’s a step-by-step guide to what you can expect, from start to finish, from a cremation funeral.

How long is an attended cremation service?

Cremation services usually last between 8 and 45 minutes, depending on what the family has chosen. With Distinct Cremations, there is the option to have an 10 minute, 20 minute or 30-45 minute service (depending on the service length at your chosen crematorium).

If you’re attending a cremation, you should aim to arrive at the chapel around 10 to 20 minutes before the funeral is due to start. For many, especially those with larger families and social circles, a funeral can be akin to a reunion. Arriving early allows people to greet each other before the deceased’s funeral procession arrives.

Entering the chapel

When the deceased and their family arrive, they’ll lead the entry into the crematorium. When they’re ready, entry to the chapel will begin. At the head of the procession, the service leader and the deceased’s pallbearers will carry the coffin, followed by the immediate family, then the attending mourners. The coffin will be placed on a raised platform at the head of the congregation, ready for the service, while the attendees take their seats.

However, this can vary – for example, direct cremations have no service and are unattended. With small, attended cremations or simple funerals, there is no procession or pallbearers who lead the coffin. Rather, the coffin will already be resting at the head of the chapel before any mourners arrive.

The cremation service

The service will usually open with a few words from the service leader, usually a family member or celebrant. During the service people may stand to read a few words about the deceased, share stories of their experiences together or read poetry in their honour. Singing is also common during a funeral service, either traditional funeral hymns or special funeral music chosen by the family or the deceased.

Ending the service

Before the service ends, the service leader will say a few more words and one of the chapel attendants will draw curtains around the coffin as a final piece of music plays. At this point you’ll be asked to leave the chapel, behind the service leader and the close family of the deceased.

Outside the chapel, the close family of the deceased will usually form a receiving line, allowing attendees to offer their condolences directly to the family. If there’s a wake held after the funeral, people will usually make their way straight to the venue after briefly speaking to other guests outside the chapel.

How long after a funeral is the body cremated?

Once all of the deceased’s mourners have left the chapel, the chapel attendants will begin preparations for the cremation process. The coffin will be carefully removed from its viewing platform and taken through to the crematorium’s cremator room.

What happens to the ashes after the cremation?

Readying the ashes

When the cremator has finished, crematorium assistants will remove all ashes, fragments and metals left behind into a container. During the cremation process, some unburnt remains are completely normal, like large bone fragments. These are all gathered up and taken to a specialised machine within the crematorium to be turned to the powder-like ashes we’re more familiar with.

After this the initial container is sorted through to remove any metals that weren’t able to be burnt, such as nails and screws from the coffin. Once all of the metals have been removed, the remaining ashes and fragments are placed into a specialised ash processing machine which grinds everything to a fine sand-like consistency. While in the care of the crematorium staff, the coffin of the deceased will receive a unique badge, with those details checked at every step of the way, ensuring that the ashes you receive are indeed those of your loved one. When the ashes are ready, they’re placed into a simple urn, clearly labelled, and placed in waiting, ready to be collected.

How long after the cremation can the ashes be collected?


If you’ve chosen to have the deceased’s ashes returned to you following the cremation, you’ll be contacted as soon as they’re ready. Depending on what you’ve agreed prior to the funeral, you can either collect the ashes yourself from the crematorium or funeral directors or have them delivered to you at home.

Alternatively, you can ask the crematorium to scatter the deceased’s ashes on your behalf if they have the facilities to do so.

Altogether, a cremation can take as little as one hour to a day-long celebration. It all comes down to the individual and what funeral plans they and their family had in place. For many, a cremation allows for the funeral to be a more personal affair, with the ashes being returned to the deceased’s loved ones at a later date to scatter or keep as a memento.

Our funeral services and plans

Whether a loved one has died or you're interested in funeral plans or direct cremation plans, we're on hand to compassionately deliver a first-class cremation service.

Find our low cost funeral services below or alternatively you can view our price list or our CMA standardised price list.

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From £1,199

If your loved one has passed away or is in the final stages of life, our team is here 24/7 to assist you. We provide guidance and support for every step, including the collection and care of your loved one, handling all necessary paperwork, and overseeing the funeral day itself.


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* Price advertised is for a 50 year old paying over a 10 year period. Total cost is £2,332.80 and includes administration fees.

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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 purchased a funeral through Distinct Cremations.

From the very first phone call I felt things were going to be handled well. Kindness compassion and helpful ness were shown throughout. I was kept informed about all the details and the person delivering the ashes was so respectful and kind taking the time to ask about my husbands life. This is who will handle my cremation.
Received excellent service from Distinct Cremations. The passing of my stepfather was very distressing and emotional time for my family. David at DC kept us up to date with the arrangements, and talked us through each step of the plan, and kept the admin to a minimum. The cost of the Direct cremation was as advertised, which I found to be good value. Thank you everyone at DC.
Excellent service. Professional but still friendly considering the subject being discussed can be awkward for some people.
Very good very helpful customer service Price was very competitive overall very happy
Polite prompt friendly service
Great service, easy to arrange. Very friendly people
Very easy to set up.
Excellent service from Distinct Cremations. My contact was Kerry who was extremely efficient, polite, professional and thoughtful. Every step of my father's cremation was very well explained from start to finish with plenty of contact but only when required. Thank you for a smooth process. I have no issues at all with Distinct and my husband and I will be taking out a plan ourselves in the near future.
702 reviews
Feefo Gold 2024
Feefo Gold 2024
702 reviews