Planning your own funeral – a definitive guide

4 Photo Collage Funeral Memory Board

Planning your own funeral is becoming an increasingly common way to relieve the stress of those close to you at such a difficult time.

In 2021, there were over 1,600,00 unplanned funerals in the UK, resulting in family members having to deal with the pressure and stress that is often associated with funeral preparations.

While you can start to plan your funeral at any point, some often only consider plans when they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness or nearing the end of their life. Whatever the reasons for doing so, it’s crucial to note that there is often a lot to consider.

At Memorial Stationery, we’ve outlined a definitive guide of what it takes to plan your own funeral and to help you outline a service that celebrates your life in a poignant and meaningful way.


Why plan your own funeral?

There are a variety of reasons you might want to plan your own funeral. Some of the common reasons are:

  • You’ve recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness and are looking to relieve the pressure on your loved ones
  • You attended a funeral and now have ideas for your own
  • You have certain wishes for what happens when you die and would like everything arranged in advanced
  • You find planning your funeral will help you come to terms with passing

Whatever the reasons, many people choose to plan their own funerals so that they have greater control over how their final send-off will play out.


Things to consider when planning your own funeral

In this guide, we’ll break down each relevant section, but depending on the reasons for planning your own funeral, there are several elements that you must first take into consideration before you can plan accordingly:


Funeral home

A vital element to funeral planning, as this will be the place that will deal with handling your body after you’re gone and completing any arrangements that you would like.

Type of service

Today, there are a number of different types of services you can have, whether you’re wanting something more traditional or off book, it’s important to decide in advance, taking your budget and the costs into consideration.


Where you want the funeral to take place.


How are you wanting to have your body delivered to and from the location of the funeral.

Funeral stationery

Think about what sort of stationery you are wanting to include, such as announcement cards, memorial boards, or even funeral leaflets.


What music are you wanting to have played at the ceremony? Keep in mind any specific song/s you might want to be remembered by and what sort of tone you’re looking to achieve with your funeral. The type of music you choose will help shape the ceremony.

Final arrangements

It’s essential to decide whether you want to be buried or cremated. If burial, think about where you would like your final resting place to be.


Outline how much you are willing to spend for the overall funeral and the service. Essential elements such as body arrangements, transport, and the order of service for the funeral should be factored in first and then any other elements, such as flowers or funeral stationery can then be added on after.


Choose your funeral home

Even when planning your own funeral, it’s important to get in contact with a funeral home as they’ll most likely be the provider you’ll make your funeral arrangements through.

Most people choose a local funeral home with a funeral director that understands the local legislation landscape, however, with the evolving digital market, online funeral home providers are also available.

This can help to determine your costs and overall budget too.


Find a funeral director

Funeral directors help organise the funeral and finalise other details you may not want to sort out, such as:

  • Legal documents
  • Dressing and preparing the body
  • Organising transport of the body
  • Arranging final wishes

While not necessary, you will want to find a funeral director that you – or someone you know – can meet in advance. It’s important to find someone that you can trust and feel comfortable with to help make the funeral arrangements as seamless as possible and assist once you’re gone.


Choose a type of service

Next, you’ll need to decide what kind of service you want.

Are you wanting a more traditional funeral service with a funeral Mass? Or would you prefer a simpler graveside service? Today, there’s a wide array of alternative service types available that can suit your character and your wishes, such as a woodland funeral or even a burial at sea.

Deciding on the type of service can also help to determine the location you want your funeral to take place.

When that’s decided, you will then need to start thinking about the logistics:

  • Where do you want it to take place?
  • Who will officiate the service for you?
  • Who do you want to speak at your funeral?
  • What music do you want played?

You’ll also need to think about the practicalities that are tied to this and make the correct arrangements ahead of time.



Another element that should be heavily considered in your budget is the transportation of your body.

Whether you’re planning a cremation or a burial, it’s important to arrange transport to and from the service. While traditionally it’s still common for a hearse to be used, lately, there has been an increase in other means of transportation.

For example, a firefighter who has passed may have arranged to be transported via a fire truck to the funeral or someone who was an avid equestrian rider may choose to use a horse-drawn carriage instead.

Arranging transportation provides you with another avenue to add a personal touch to your funeral and to help reflect your character one final time.


Funeral stationery

There are a number of funeral stationery options available to suit your budget and style. From memory boards to bookmarks, each piece of funeral stationery is designed to create that bespoke final reminder.

A funeral order of service is a widely used piece of funeral stationery that acts as an outline of the ceremony, providing guests with a running order of the proceedings. The primary element of any funeral is ultimately tied to the order of service. With templates available online, you can design and create an order of service before your passing.

The idea behind a funeral order of service is to also act as a physical keepsake for those in attendance to remember the day – and more importantly – to remember you by.

It generally includes information about the ceremony, hymns, prayers, or readings that are also planned to occur.

At Memorial Stationery, we provide a wide array of options, both standard and bespoke, to help you create the perfect funeral order of service. You can design a funeral order of service online with ease, complete with our unique templates for any funeral leaflet that can also be customised to your liking, offering the perfect way to commemorate and celebrate your life among your loved ones.

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Flowers and other accessories

Depending on your budget, other accessories such as decorations, catering and flowers can be arranged in advance.

While not necessary, flowers help to add a traditional and hopeful touch to any proceeding. Originally incorporated into funerals back in the Victorian Era, flowers were used to help not only add colour to a ceremony but also help mask the smell of the bodies.

Thankfully today, flowers are used instead to remind us of the beauty of life and act as a way to celebrate a loved one.


Burial or cremation

When it comes to outlining your final arrangements, it’s important to decide whether you are wanting to be cremated, buried, or even want to donate your body to science.

Deciding how you will be laid to rest is crucial, especially when it comes to factoring it in within your budget. In the UK, the average cost of a burial was almost £1,700 throughout 2020, almost double the price of a cremation.


Final preparations

A reception, wake or another form of gathering may not be a necessary requirement for a funeral, but it can act as a comforting part for those attending.

When planning your own funeral, it’s important to consider those close to you and how they may want to unwind after what might be a difficult service for them.

A wake provides your guests, usually friends and family, with the opportunity to bond and reminisce after the funeral, giving the chance for it to bring people together at a difficult time.

You can also decide in advance whether you would prefer those in attendance to instead donate money to a charity or cause that you hold dear. This can be a great way to add another personal touch to the proceedings too.


Inform someone close to you

Finally, once you have outlined a plan or made the necessary arrangements, it’s important to inform someone close to you. This is so that they can help fulfil your final wishes how you want and also act as a point of contact if needed for anything you’ve organised.

While planning your own funeral can be a difficult undertaking, it’s a great way to provide a personal touch and arrange your final send off how you want.

At Memorial Stationery, we’re here to help ease the pressure on you and your loved ones with our free design service of all types of funeral stationery, allowing you to have a personalised and bespoke touch to your own funeral.

If you’d like more information on our services, design templates, and more, get in touch today.