Plan a funeral service: a step-by-step guide

Plan a funeral service using the key steps outlined below to help break the process down into manageable stages to make arrangements feel less daunting.

If you’d like support with arranging a funeral service straight away, give our caring team a call on 01543 212000.

It can be tough to plan a funeral service, especially when you’re grieving, but taking the process step by step can help to make it more manageable.

There are many different ways to have a funeral service and incorporate personal touches that honour your loved one's life. Knowing the options available to you can help you make informed choices that incorporate both your loved one's funeral wishes and your own preferences.

At Distinct Cremations, we can guide you through your funeral arrangements so you know where to start with your planning and the support that’s available to you.

For those thinking ahead to the future, we also offer funeral plans that allow you to pick your own funeral and pay for it in advance.

Plan a funeral service the traditional way

A traditional funeral service tends to follow a set format with conventional aspects like a celebrant leading the service and a eulogy written and read by someone closest to the deceased.

If you’d like to plan a funeral service that follows a traditional route, these are some of the decisions to be considered.

Coffin Outside With Mourners In Background

Key steps to plan a funeral service

When you plan a funeral service there are some initial practical steps to take as well as specifics to choose for the funeral service itself.

1. Choose main contact

Family Of Three Embracing

The next of kin or closest relative usually takes responsibility for the funeral arrangements. Anyone can plan a funeral service though, so another close family member or friend can support you if you're finding it hard.

Planning can be shared amongst family members but funeral providers may need a main point of contact. Clearly define who is responsible for which aspects to avoid crossover.

If you can't decide who should plan the funeral service, check the will as your loved one's wishes may be specified.

2. Register the death

Lady Sitting In Garden On Laptop

Before a burial or cremation can take place, you'll need to officially register a death with the government.

You will then need to attend an appointment in person at a registry office before you can get a death certificate and certificate for burial or cremation.

The quickest way to receive the documents is to use the registry office in the area where the person died, but it is possible to make an appointment with your local registry office, rather than travelling to theirs.

3. Choose a funeral type

People In Chapel Blurred Focus

There are three main types of funeral:

You may already know the type of funeral your loved one wanted. But if they didn’t leave any instructions and never discussed their wishes with you, learn about the key differences to help you choose a burial or cremation.

4. Choose a location

Crematorium sunset

You can hold a funeral service:

  • Where you live for easier planning
  • Where your loved one lived
  • Where the majority of your family lives

When all three of these are in the same area the location is obvious, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re not yet sure where you’d like the funeral to take place, choosing a nationwide provider offers you a greater flexibility of locations.

5. Choose a provider

about us crem team

Your funeral provider will support you in your funeral arrangements so it’s important to go with a provider who has an approach you like. Consider:

  • How much you want to spend
  • What type of funeral you want
  • The level of service provided

Funeral providers organise funerals daily so they know what needs to be done when and in what order. Make sure when you choose a funeral provider that you feel you can turn to them with questions.

6. Pay for the funeral

Man Working At Table With Calculator

Funeral providers will need a deposit or full payment to collect your loved one and begin the arrangements.

  • There are several ways to cover funeral costs including financial planning products your loved one may have or using money from their estate.
  • Money from these can take time to be available so be prepared that you may need to cover costs upfront.
  • Funerals don’t have to be elaborate and your loved one would not want you to feel stressed about money. Choosing a simplified and affordable funeral option may be best.

Plan a funeral service with Distinct Cremations

We offer an alternative to a conventional funeral director and specialise in simple cremation funerals and unattended direct cremations.

Unnecessary extravagances are removed for a no fuss cremation and our services are handled with care and compassion at every stage.

Chat with our experienced team

Distinct team

Our friendly customer service specialists can talk you through our cremation services over the phone.

Once you're fully informed about what we offer you can choose the option that's right for you.

Call us on 01543 212000

Request a funeral plans guide

Request a Guide

If you're anticipating a death or thinking ahead about your own funeral, a funeral plan could be right for you.

Request your FREE guide to find out how you can choose and pay for a funeral in advance.

Request your funeral plans guide

Learn more about direct cremation

direct cremation

If a traditional funeral doesn’t feel right for your loved one, a direct cremation may suit them better.

This unattended cremation option allows you to focus on a memorial that’s flexible, unique and deeply personal.

View direct cremation services

Personalising a funeral service

Don’t worry about fitting in with other funeral services you’ve attended or any traditions that don’t feel meaningful to you. There are many ways you can incorporate your loved one's personality and your family traditions when you plan a funeral service. The personal touches are what will make the funeral service feel unique and special to your loved one.

  • Readings - You may like to incorporate funeral readings from poems, books or prayers that reflect your loved one's personality.
  • Unique touches - If you have any writers in the family, asking them to write something unique makes the service more personal.
  • Songs - You can also ask any musicians you know to compose a piece or ask mourners to sing along to your loved one’s favourite songs.
  • Traditions - Including the traditions of family or friends from different cultures and faiths lets everyone feel involved.
  • Photos - You could rest photo frames on the coffin, have a photo wall or play a photo montage on a screen.
  • Memories - Have guests write down or draw memories of your loved one that you can pin to a board or add to a scrapbook.
  • Clothes - Ask people to wear your loved one’s favourite colour or favourite item of clothing such as a bright scarf or a certain brand of shoes.
  • Hobbies - Incorporate your loved one’s passions with clothing too like a golf print tie or socks patterned with a beloved pet.
  • Personal items - Instead of funeral flowers, consider placing an item that represents your loved one on the coffin instead.
  • Mementoes - You could even give small mementoes out at the funeral so guests have something lasting and meaningful to keep.

Shaun Chapman-Young

Crematorium Manager, Westerleigh Cemetery & Crematorium

“We know from the families we work with that it can feel lonely and isolating to plan a funeral service. That’s why it’s important during this time to remember you’re not alone. Your funeral provider can help guide you through the practical arrangements and you can lean on family and friends too.

“On the day of the funeral itself, your officiant as well as the team at the crematorium or burial ground are there to support you. Our team at Westerleigh Cemetery & Crematorium are experienced in ensuring the smooth running of funeral services and also care deeply about giving you and your family an opportunity to say a meaningful goodbye.”

How to cope with planning whilst grieving

Once you have taken the steps to plan a funeral service, you can communicate the time, date and any other requests to your loved one's friends and family.

However, some people find talking about a lost loved one difficult. Making the practical funeral arrangements can provide a sense of control and closure for some but for others, it can bring grief to the surface.

There is no right way to feel but there are bereavement resources available to help you if you need them.

If planning the service feels like too much to take on, remember you are not alone. Lean on the support of family, friends and your funeral provider who can handle the arrangements, let you know what you need to do and keep you informed at every stage.

Two People Holding Hands

Other resources to help you plan a funeral service

Whether you’ve chosen to plan a funeral service that’s large and extravagant or intimate and understated, there are no wrong choices as everyone grieves differently.

Arrange a funeral

Sue Cook arrange a funeral

Arrange a simple, caring and affordable funeral with Distinct Cremations. Give us a call on 01543 212000 for immediate support with your funeral arrangements.

Arrange a funeral

Funeral music ideas

Funeral music

Music at a funeral can release your emotions and evoke memories of your loved one. Find out which funeral songs are the most popular to help with your music choices.

Funeral music ideas

How to write a eulogy

How to write a eulogy

Writing your loved one's eulogy lets you relive happy memories and celebrate your loved one's personality, relationships and achievements throughout their life.

How to write a eulogy

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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