As more and more people begin to favour a less formalised and traditional funeral, family led funerals are becoming a lot more common. Below we explain exactly what a family led funeral is and how to organise one.

What is a family led funeral?

A family led funeral is a funeral with a service arranged without a funeral director and without a religious leader or celebrant leading the service.

The care, transportation and preparation of the deceased for the funeral is still taken care of by the funeral provider, but the service itself can be organised however the family like. The funeral therefore can be more of a personal affair, and can contain readings, poems, music, hymns or even a video if the venue has audio and visual capabilities.

Family led funerals mostly apply to funeral cremations rather than burials, as a burial will almost always need the help of an undertaker.

If you'd like to know how to organise a family led funeral, you can speak to our team on 01543 211997 or read on below.

The difference between a family led funeral with Distinct Cremations and traditional funeral

There are a number of stark differences between a family led funeral and a traditional funeral. The deceased will receive exemplary care for both types of service, but the day of the funeral will look very different.

Cremation with Distinct
A family led funeral with Distinct Cremations

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

  • An attended cremation
  • A choice to hold the funeral at one of our 40 crematoriums across the UK - all equipped with audio/visual capabilities
  • A service arranged in a way that's personal for you and your family
  • Service led by the family which can include readings, poems and hymns
  • On average 61% cheaper⊛ than a traditional funeral, with prices starting from just £1,599

⊛ 61% saving is based on the cost of a basic funeral at £4,141 (SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024, vs the cost of a Distinct Cremations Intimate Cremation at £1,599

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
  • Led by a religious leader or celebrant with a fixed service
  • Option to have a procession with a hearse and limousines
  • Service coordination from a funeral director on the day
  • Costs on average £4,141# for a basic funeral

    # The average cost of a basic, funeral in 2023 (SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024,

How can I arrange a family led funeral

Below is a step by step process of how to arrange a family led funeral, right from the moment a loved one has died right through to the day of the cremation.

  1. Contact a funeral provider
    Whether a loved one has died or they're receiving end of life care, it's best to contact a funeral provider as early as possible so you can start to get arrangements in place.

    Though you can arrange a funeral yourself, it's much easier to let a funeral provider carry out the logistics of the funeral for you.

    This includes collection of the deceased, care at the mortuary facility, and transportation of the deceased to the crematorium.

  2. Complete the funeral paperwork
    Before a cremation can be booked you will first need to register the death and complete the obligatory legal paperwork.

    At Distinct Cremations, we can help you with the paperwork should you need any assistance.

  3. Choose a crematorium, date and service
    Once the paperwork is completed, the funeral provider you're speaking to will be able to give you some dates, crematorium and service options.

    From here, the funeral provider can book the cremation for you and organise the transportation of the deceased.

  4. Arrange the service
    You will now be able to arrange a service that's personal to you.

    First start by inviting your guests, then think about how you'd like the service to look. Maybe you'd like some music to be played to begin and end the service, and you may like some readings and poems dotted throughout. All of our crematoriums have audio/visual capabilities too, so you may like to play a video or a slide show of images.

    If you'd like any help or you'd like to know what's possible, you can speak to our team on 01543 211997 at any time of the day.

  5. The cremation
    On the day of the cremation, the deceased will then be transported and placed in the crematorium before the attendees arrive.

    At our crematoriums, there will be a chapel attendant present to make sure the day runs smoothly.

Get in touch

Want more information? We're happy to answer any questions you may have about our cremations over the phone, or you can request a free guide for details about what we offer.

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Want to talk through our options? If you have questions or would like some in-person support we’re just a call away.

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Need some time to digest the details? You can download a PDF of our guide online or get a printed copy posted out.

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What to do when someone dies

Before someone dies, getting an understanding of what to do when someone dies, can help to ease the stress and confusion that you may face. Here's a handy checklist that will be of help with the legal requirements and the overall logistics for when the time comes.

Download a free checklist

Here at Distinct Cremations, we have created a free checklist for you to download which lets you know what you need to do when someone dies.

Download our checklist below or speak to our expert team on 01543 211997 today
Download free checklist

Further alternatives to a traditional funeral

These days, there are many alternatives to a traditional funeral. This can be something like an unattended, direct cremation which is a cremation without a funeral. A private cremation, which has a small funeral service. Or a natural burial which is an environmentally friendly alternative.

Here are a few alternatives you may like to consider if you or your loved one aren't interested in having a traditional funeral.

Unattended cremation

Cremation without a funeral

An unattended cremation or direct cremation, now favoured by 20% of the UK population*, has quickly become the most popular alternative. They take place without mourners or a funeral service. After the cremation the family has the option to host a memorial service.

Many like the idea of an unattended cremation because it allows the family to have a memorial service which is separate from the cremation itself.

* SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024,

More about unattended cremations

Natural burial

Tree pod burial

Natural burials are a type of green funeral which are fast becoming a popular choice to an alternative funeral as people become more environmentally aware. A natural burial, occasionally referred to as a woodland burial or green burial, is where the deceased is buried at a green burial site in a natural coffin or shroud.

A green burial site is often in a forest, meadow or wooded area. Currently in the UK, these aren’t especially common, however they are increasing in availability as demand increases.

More about green funerals

Water cremation

Water Cremation

Otherwise known as a resomation or aquamation, a water cremation is not currently available in the UK, but is popular in other parts of the world. With a water cremation, the body is placed in a pressurised tank and pressed into powder. It is an environmentally friendlier alternative to a traditional cremation.

In the same way as the ashes are returned to the family following a traditional cremation, the powder can also be returned to the deceased following a resomation.

More about funeral alternatives

Other helpful articles

Below are a few further articles that you may be interested in with regards to organising a funeral.

Arrange a funeral


At Distinct Cremations, we provide no fuss funerals which are simple to arrange, affordable and delivered with care, dignity and respect. Prices start from just £1,199 if you need to arrange a funeral today.

Arrange a funeral

Cremation or burial?

Wooden coffin with a bouquet of funeral flowers laid on top

Whether you’re planning ahead or supporting a loved one in their time of need, the choice between a cremation or burial can be a complex one with many factors to consider. We explain more in our article.

Cremation or burial

Choosing a provider

compare funeral plans

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 followed their instinct with Distinct and chose to buy a funeral with us.

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Mark 21 May 2024
Excellent communication, very helpful and we got just what we wanted in a service. Highly recommended and we will use again. Mark Oliver
Anon 2 May 2024
Service very efficient, and comprehensive. Understandably, you "chased me up" when there was a delay in my response to place an order, but this delay was whilst I contacted all those relatives who might have had a view to express.
Anon 24 Apr 2024
I was very happy with the service I received and they are only a phone call away if I or my sons should need advice or help in any way
Wendy 8 Apr 2024
This is a good company, the cremation was dealt with very smoothly without any problems. The staff were very courteous and professional throughout. Everything was explained over the phone and they were very patient answering my questions. The ashes were delivered on time to my door. Highly recommended.
Anon 7 Apr 2024
They gave a superb service, they were very professional from start to finish, but also friendly and empathetic too, at what was a very difficult time for myself and the family
Anon 6 Apr 2024
Dee was lovely and understanding and advice was easy to understand
Anon 5 Apr 2024
Very kind and helpful lady. She talked me through everything that I asked her about.
Anon 1 Apr 2024
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.
Based on 711 reviews
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