Step by step guide to arranging a funeral

Daffodils being passed from hand to hand at a funeral service

Five minute read

Most of us will only need to arrange a funeral only once or twice in our lives. The process can be unfamiliar or confusing, especially challenging at a time when most people are already tired and grieving.

At Poppy’s, we believe that explaining things as clearly and openly as possible helps you make the choices that are right for you.

This is what will happen, step by step, when you arrange a funeral with us.

1. Get in touch with Poppy’s.

When you first contact us, we’ll explain how we work, what services we offer, how much they cost, and answer any questions you have.

We’ll give you the time and space to decide if we’re the right funeral director for you. Then, if you decide to appoint Poppy’s, we’ll send you a copy of our terms and conditions to sign.

You’re really welcome to get in touch before someone has died. You can check out costs and options yourself and get a quote here or we can talk you through this on the phone.

Once the death has been certified and certain paperwork is complete, our team can collect the person who has died and bring them into our care. We’ll look after them until the funeral in our beautiful, light-filled mortuary in Tooting.

Arranging a funeral? Call us on 020 3589 4726 or email us on

2. Register the person’s death.

You will need to register the person’s death at your local register office within five days. The register office should contact you to offer an in-person appointment.

3. Decide what kind of funeral you would like, and when and where it will take place.

The first decision to make is whether the funeral will be a burial or cremation.

You will also need to think about whether you would like an attended funeral or an unattended funeral, often known as a direct cremation. You can see more about the differences between these options here.

For an attended funeral, with the full, flexible support of the Poppy’s team, you can choose the date, time and place. We can research options for you.

You don’t have to choose your nearest crematorium or cemetery, as the cost, size and atmosphere can vary a lot. You can get an idea of the choices available here.

Then, we make all the bookings and arrangements, whether at a crematorium, cemetery, natural burial ground, place of worship or alternative venue.

4. Meet with us to talk about your choices.

Now it’s time to meet with your funeral director to discuss what you want for the funeral itself. This funeral director is likely to be the same person who is with you on the day of the funeral.

This is your opportunity to talk about the personal touches which are important to you, and which express the character of the person who has died. This includes choosing flowers (if you want flowers), a coffin and a hearse.

We will explain the costs as we go along. We can advise on greener choices and more affordable choices. We will do our best to source whatever you are looking for!

If you ask us to help you find a celebrant, we'll send you details of a couple of people who we think would suit what you’re looking for. You then contact them to plan the music, readings and other elements of the ceremony.

There’s a bit more legal paperwork to do at this meeting too, but we can walk you through it. And, of course, you can ask any questions.

Once all the details have been agreed, we’ll send you a final invoice.

5. If you wish, visit the person who has died.

While someone is in our care, you are welcome to visit them, wash or dress them, or bring in clothes for us to dress them.

Our Friends and Family room is different from a traditional chapel of rest. It’s a light and welcoming private space, it’s even been described as a bit like someone’s living room.

You can bring music, candles, decorations for the coffin, or just sit and spend time with the person. This is your time.

We can also arrange to bring the person home or to a place of worship the night before the funeral if you wish.

Find out more about visiting Poppy’s or about bringing someone home before the funeral.

6. Keep in touch.

Between the meeting and the funeral, your funeral director will stay in touch by phone or email with any updates or decisions that you need to make.

On the day before the funeral, we’ll give you a call to check the final details and make sure all your questions have been answered.

7. Pay for the funeral.

Unlike most funeral directors, we don’t ask for a deposit. However, we do ask for payment in full three working days before the funeral. There are slightly different arrangements for a burial and we can talk you through these.

You can pay us by bank transfer, debit card or credit card (not Amex). However, we cannot accept payment via solicitors, personal cheques or credit cards registered outside of the UK.

You can also pay for a funeral from the bank account of the person who has died, if there are sufficient funds. To release funds, the bank needs to see the funeral director's invoice and the death certificate. We recommend speaking to the bank's bereavement team as soon as possible.

8. The funeral day and afterwards.

Your funeral director will make sure everything runs smoothly on the day. They will also be in touch with you a few days afterwards with any final information, for example details about picking up the ashes from the crematorium.

There is no time limit on grief. We know that many people need support long after the funeral is over. That’s why we’ve put together this information about charities and bereavement support services who are here to help.

Most people choose Poppy’s because someone has recommended us to them. If we’ve helped you, we’d love it if you shared your experience with others or left a review. You can read our reviews here.

Arranging a funeral? Call us on 020 3589 4726 or email us on

Read more step by step guides — including how to prepare children for a funeral and how to register a death.

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