We hope this section can help you plan a truly personal ceremony.
The person you choose to lead the ceremony will set the tone and hold the structure together. You might already know who this person should be – whether a family member, friend, celebrant, or religious leader. If you don’t, here are some ideas to help you find the right person.
A celebrant is a non-religious ceremony leader. A good celebrant will visit you at home to help you create a ceremony based on your needs and wishes. They usually charge somewhere in the region of £180-£350. If you’re looking for a celebrant, here are some fantastic resources to help you find one in your area:
British Humanist Association ‘Find a Celebrant’
Institute of Civil Funerals
Fellowship of Professional Celebrants
One Spirit Interfaith Foundation
If you have a church you regularly go to, it will be natural for you to approach them directly. If you would like a vicar or priest to lead the ceremony, but don’t have someone specific in mind, these resources may help you locate your nearest church to contact:
Church of England
The Catholic Church in England and Wales
Other religious leaders
If you are looking for a religious leader of another faith, here are resources to help you find the right person for you:
Many families choose to hold the funeral in a local crematorium, natural burial ground, cemetery or religious building. But this doesn’t have to be the case. A funeral can be held anywhere – at home or in any other private venue – as long as you have the owner’s permission. Here are some alternative venues where you can hold a funeral:
Le Gothique, SW18 3SX
Lauderdale House, N6 5HG
Caroline Gardens Chapel, SE15 2SQ
You may know exactly how you want the ceremony to run. But if you’re looking for ideas and information, we hope the following is helpful.
Carrying the coffin
This can be one of the most meaningful ways for family and friends to participate in the ceremony. Alternatively, the Poppy’s team can carry the coffin for you, or with you. The choice is entirely yours.
It’s very important to note that the coffin does not have to be carried on shoulders. Shouldering the coffin looks very impressive and of course we can support you to carry this way. But it means the carriers need to be of similar height to walk in step and they won’t be able to see each other. Many families we help therefore decide to carry the coffin more informally at waist height. Our service includes 2 bearers to support you to carry the coffin. If you'd like the Poppy's team to carry the coffin on your behalf, we can simply provide additional bearers.
Music and words
Whether you’re a fan of Mozart, Madonna, Shakespeare or Roald Dahl, there may well be important music and words you’d like to include.
Whether on original CDs, an iPod or performed live by friends, family or professional musicians, music can play a meaningful role in creating a personal ceremony. Readings, poems and prayers can be just as important as music. You might like to invite family or friends to read something or alternatively the person leading the ceremony should be glad to do it for you. It's entirely up to you.
A eulogy, if you choose to incorporate one, can be as formal or as informal as you’d like it to be.
There can be several family members and friends who might like to share personal stories and a loving tribute, or you may want to offer up an open mic.
The ‘committal’ is traditionally the moment when we say goodbye to the person who has died.
If you’re at the crematorium, a curtain may be drawn around the coffin to obscure it from view, or the coffin may move through a set of doors. For many families, this is an important moment of ‘closure’. But remember this doesn’t have to happen. More and more families are choosing to leave the coffin where it is, and to say goodbye in their own time.
Saying a personal goodbye
There are many beautiful ways you can invite the congregation to say a personal goodbye.
You could invite people to step forward and place a flower on the coffin. Or you can place colourful message tags and pens on seats before the ceremony starts so during the ceremony people can write a message to tie onto the coffin. You could get everyone singing, lighting candles or drinking a glass of whisky together. You could incorporate some time for reflection. The choice is entirely up to you. Whatever feels right, is right.
Family and friends can bring their own flowers from a local florist or even from their gardens. Alternatively Poppy’s can arrange this using our own trusted florist.
You can choose to have flowers on top of the coffin and/or decorating the ceremony space. Flowers can also be incorporated into the ceremony by inviting everyone to step forward to lay them on (or if it’s wicker, entwine them into) the coffin.
Orders of service
Many families design and print orders of service themselves. But we can, of course, help you do this.