Seven ways to personalise a funeral

Four minute read

After a funeral, we’re delighted when we hear people say things like ‘she would have loved this’ or ‘that suited our dad down to a tee’ or ‘that was just what my sister would have wanted’.

This is one of the reasons why we don’t sell funeral packages at Poppy’s. Every aspect of the funeral — from coffins to celebrants, flowers to vehicles — can be tailored to suit what’s right for you.

“I think the starting point for every funeral should be the personality of the person who has died,” explains Hannah, one of Poppy's funeral directors.

“Most people start by thinking about what a funeral ‘should’ be like and then try to make it suit their person. But try not to worry about making it like other funerals you’ve attended — first and foremost, it’s about the person.”

Watch this short video from Natalie about why personalisation matters

Here are seven ideas to get you started.

1. Finding the right venue

Alternative funeral venue, glass-fronted building with blue sky, bunting and willow coffin

A crematorium or cemetery chapel is not the only place that you can hold a funeral ceremony. What about your favourite restaurant or pub, your local place of worship or your own home?

If the person whose life you are remembering loved the outdoors, why not have an open-air ceremony, or even get out the rugs and the sandwiches and have a picnic?

Read our guide to choosing a funeral venue or discover some unusual alternative venues.

2. Deciding who will lead the ceremony

how to plan your own funeral

It could be a religious leader, a friend or family member, or a professional funeral celebrant. You could make it a team effort, with several people planning and leading the ceremony. It’s up to you.

If you are looking for a celebrant, we can give information and recommendations, so that you can find the right match.

For example, you might want someone who shares the same interests, spiritual beliefs or background as the person who has died. Or someone whose style matches the tone you want to set for the funeral.

Celebrants can also come up with creative and helpful suggestions for how to personalise the service in other ways. There’s lots more in this blog about what to consider when choosing a celebrant and how we can help.

3. Words, music and more

Group of people around a willow coffin in a church, decorating it with flowers

The funeral ceremony itself usually consists of words and music. But which words and which music? Well, that is entirely your call. We can make suggestions and can search out almost any track you can think of. Your celebrant can also help come up with ideas.

There are no limits on the style of music you can choose or the type of poem, prayer or reading you can include. You can have recorded or live music or encourage guests at the funeral to join in. Find more music ideas here.

We should also say, you don’t have to have any music or any words as part of the ceremony if you don’t want to!

In addition, many people find it very meaningful to include photos, perhaps projected on a screen, or a symbolic action, such as tying ribbons on the coffin, sharing a memory of the person who has died or writing messages during the ceremony.

These symbolic actions are a way to include everyone in the service, and make it much more personal for everyone who is there.

4. Choosing (or creating) a coffin

Cardboard coffin painted with irises

Coffins come in a range of different styles and materials, including wood, wicker, banana leaf and cardboard. This means you can choose what feels right to you.

You can even contribute to creating the coffin itself — you can cover a cardboard coffin with photos, drawings or messages; weave a willow coffin; or design a woollen shroud.

5. Finding the flowers

Coffin with flowers and chef's whites

Many people associate funerals with grand floral arrangements. And if that’s your style, then go for it!

If not, you could choose wild flowers, garden flowers or decide not to have flowers at all. For more guidance on choosing flowers, check out this blog on how to choose flowers for a funeral.

As an alternative to flowers, we’ve seen coffins beautifully topped with origami flowers, personal items (such as a chef’s hat, a knitting basket or walking boots) or even with homegrown fruit and veg.

6. Deciding what to wear

Four men in suits and blue ties as part of Poppy's team

It’s okay to have a dress code. You can ask people to dress in a particular favourite colour or style, or simply request colourful clothes. Our team will do our best to match what you want in what we wear on the day. Read more about the options available.

7. Getting there

Leopard print hearse and driver

This is often where people are at their most creative! If you are celebrating the life of a bus, bike or boat enthusiast, then we can lay on appropriate transport — from a double decker bus to an electric barge.

And even if you want a more traditional hearse, it doesn’t have to be black. Discover more options if you don't want a black hearse.

Why personalise a funeral?

Personalising a funeral is not about buying more stuff, spending more money or doing something unusual just for the sake of it. It’s about making choices that reflect the character and passions of the person who has died.

Above all, it’s about creating an occasion that you can feel proud of. We’re here to help.

Explore the options available, and how much they cost, by using our Estimator to create a personalised quote. Get a quote now or contact us by phone or email.

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