What Goes Into Planning a Funeral?

Along with grieving and supporting your family, planning a funeral can be a daunting, overwhelming task. There is so much to take into account, so many legalities to understand and all of this while dealing with the loss of a loved one. Here at Wallace Stuart Limited, we want to be there to support you every step of the way. Which is why we’ve created this guide to help you throughout the entire process.

Funerals are personal services. They should be a celebration of this one special person – whether that translates into a formal or bespoke send-off. No matter the type of funeral you’re planning, you need to consider the same checkpoints to make sure you cover absolutely everything. In this guide, we’ll discuss:

  • Type of service.
  • Venue.
  • Coffin.
  • Music & Readings.
  • Order of Service.
  • Flowers.
  • Transportation.

Type of Service

The first place to start when planning a funeral is to decide on the type. Many people identify the type of funeral they would prefer in a will or during discussions with their loved ones. And the right funeral director will be able to help you turn this into a reality. The main types of funeral service are:


77% of funerals in the UK are cremations. The reasons why this has become so popular are varied – some feel it is a more eco-conscious choice while others wish to be scattered in their favourite locations.


Normally held after the funeral service, burials are still a popular choice of service. They require you to identify and purchase a burial spot, organised preparation and purchase a memorial or headstone.

Woodland Burial/green Burial

In modern times, people are choosing green burials more and more. This environmentally-friendly option makes use of biodegradable coffins and a specialised location where burials are intended to support the surrounding environment.


Once you’ve decided on the type of service, choosing the venue is the next step. Many people choose locations that are sentimental to the deceased. This is a significant consideration as the venue will dictate the overall feel of a funeral. It will also support your choice of service. Depending on what you have in mind, you may want to choose:

  • A crematorium.
  • A place of worship.
  • A hotel with licensing to hold funerals.
  • A private home.
  • Natural burial site.

Keep in mind, if you are keen on a religious ceremony, the officiant may advise you of restrictions on location. Equally, if you’ve purchased a burial plot, it may be advisable to hold the funeral closeby to minimise travel after the service. Choosing a local venue may also benefit travel for other family members and, if needed, will keep transport costs to a minimum. It’s important at all stages of funeral planning to take into account the most important variables and decide what your loved one would have wanted.


For those who have chosen a burial service, you’ll also need to select the most suitable coffin. For some, this process can help with the grieving process and gives you control over the space that your loved one will take up. There are three main things to consider when choosing a coffin:


Coffins can be made of a multitude of materials, depending on your budget and individual requirements. This breadth of choice is vast – from steel and wood through to kraft paper and natural bamboo. Choosing the right coffin is a personal decision. These spaces serve as the focal point within funeral services and are usually used to reflect the personality of the loved one. Taking your time to select the right one will give you a sense of peace and comfort.

Metal coffins are often chosen for their protective nature. They vary in price depending on the thickness and type of material with the most economic options being standard steel. The most expensive types of metal coffin are made from copper and bronze.

Wooden coffins have a traditional warmth to them and are more popular for those seeking eco-friendly solutions. They can be individually and hand-crafted to suit your specifications, with velvet linens and various finishes. The choice of wood is also varied – including mahogany, walnut and pine. If you’re seeking something biodegradable, choose one made from willow, bamboo or banana leaf.


Coffins generally come in standard, child and oversized dimensions. If you discuss your needs with a coffin manufacturer, they’ll be able to advise on the right size for you. Equally, many are made-to-order, to suit the height and width of your loved one exactly. This means you’ll be able to craft a personalised and custom coffin that fits your budget at the same time.


Today’s coffins can be personalised in a multitude of ways. From changing handles and paint colour through to having the sides printed or even covered in glitter, you can truly create a coffin that speaks to the personality of the deceased. Our Funeral Directors can provide additional information about the scope of possibility here and ensure you find the perfect option to suit your budget.

Music & Readings

Music is highly evocative and can bring fond memories back to life. For this reason, it is widely used during funerals to personalise and bring comfort to friends and family. Many choose to play a cherished piece of music – perhaps a wedding song – or to have a sentimental reading done that personifies your loved one. If you’ve chosen a religious ceremony, hymns are also a popular choice. Some of the most used in the UK are:

  • Jerusalem by William Blake.
  • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23).
  • Lord of All Hopefulness.
  • Be Not Afraid.
  • Abide With Me.

As with every consideration, make sure any music, readings or hymns chosen feel right for your loved one. Would they have enjoyed them, had they been sat next to you throughout? Would you notice a smile pass their face as they watched the congregation banding together?

Order of Service

An order of service is handed out to all attendants. It acts as a memorial document, capturing the readings, music and hymns that are used during the ceremony. Many choose to include a beloved photo of the deceased to bring their soul back into the room and additional information that brings comfort to the entire family. Orders of service can also be given to mourners who are unable to attend the service. It will normally include:

  • A photograph.
  • The deceased full name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Date of death.
  • Remembrance quote.
  • Date, location and time of the funeral service.
  • Words to any songs or hymns sung.
  • Words for any readings.
  • Information about any music played.


Losing someone special can be hard to put into words. One token that can bring comfort and help to express love, sympathy and respect is flowers. Flowers have long had their place in funerals, personalising the service and acting as a healing gesture for many. Some of the most popular flowers for funerals are:

  • Lilies.
  • Gladioli.
  • Carnations.
  • Chrysanthemums.
  • Roses.

In lieu of flowers, you may choose to ask for charity donations for an organisation that helped your loved one or supports a cause that you believe in. This can be done through a funeral donation box at the ceremony or with a URL link printed in the obituary. You can also create an online funeral notice that can be shared with attendees to give them another avenue for donating if they so choose.


One thing that may not jump straight to mind during funeral planning is transportation. Generally, a hearse will take the coffin to the funeral service. This is followed by vehicles with family and close friends, known as a funeral procession. It is up to you whether this transport is organised by the family or individually by each attendant. This choice will come down to personal preference or budget.

You can select a practical route for the funeral procession – perhaps one that passes by locations that are sentimental or meaningful. Working with a Funeral Director, you’ll be able to understand the scope of possibilities depending on your geographical location. They will also be able to advise on timings to ensure you miss particularly busy times of the day.

Saying goodbye to a loved one is always a difficult prospect. And planning a funeral that properly celebrates them and pays tribute to the life they’ve lived is easy when you’re supported by an experienced team. If you are in the stages of planning a funeral and need a helping hand, let’s talk.