Types of Funeral Service in the UK


May 29, 2018
funeral service

The shape of the UK has changed massively over the years, so it’s little wonder that the types of funeral service available have also had to change with the times too. We live in a diverse, multicultural society, so in addition to delivering traditional Church of England Funeral services, funeral directors are also experienced in arranging Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Roman Catholic funerals too – to name but a few.

The longer lives we are living, soaring funeral costs and our own personal wishes are all good reasons why as a nation we are finally starting to look ahead and be more open when it comes to arranging our own funeral.

But arranging a funeral and putting plans in place no matter how big or small can be quite a big deal these days. It all depends on the type of funeral service you want and how much of the ‘detail’ you want to deal with.

So to help you make your funeral plans, here are some of the types of funeral service available to you as well as a few tips on other funeral planning options you may want to think about:

The Traditional Funeral Service

Be it a cremation or burial funeral service, the traditional religious funeral is still the number one type of funeral service in the UK. Although a religious funeral, this doesn’t need to be held in a church and you don’t need to be an active member of a church either.

The religious funeral service can either be held at a church with the committal taking place after at either the crematorium or burial site, or entirely at the crematorium.

The Non Religious Funeral Service

An increasing number of people are now looking to non religious funeral services, often referred to as Humanist Funeral Services. The humanist funeral service can be tailored to the individual’s wishes without the constraints of the traditional bible readings and hymns.

A non religious funeral service can be carried out by anyone, but typically a humanist or celebrant is selected to help structure and deliver the service. A humanist funeral tends to focus more on the celebration of life, which is why some consider it to be more uplifting than a more traditional funeral service.

As there are no legal requirements, humanist funeral services can take place anywhere but typically they are held at crematoriums, cemeteries or woodland burial sites.    

The Green Funeral Service

Green funeral services or eco burials are popular for those who are more interested in the welfare of the planet or perhaps like the idea of being at one with nature. With a number of woodland burial sites throughout the UK, plots are available in natural woodland landscapes, usually with no markings other than a wooden plaque if requested.

The cost of the woodland burial plot usually depends on the location within the woodland burial site and you will need to ensure that the coffin is an eco coffin, made of bio-degradable material that is accepted by the owners of the natural burial ground.

An eco coffin can be made of a number of bio-degradable materials from bamboo to wicker or willow to wood - you can even get wool coffins and banana leaf coffins too. Depending on the type of materials used, costs will vary so it is worth comparing coffin prices to see what you prefer.

Alternatively, if a woodland burial is your preferred choice however you are not bothered about a coffin, you can always choose to be buried in a shroud.

The Direct Cremation Funeral Service

Direct Cremation is a simple cremation funeral service but without the service. The person who has died is taken directly to the company providing the direct cremation services; be that a local funeral director or dedicated direct cremation company and then the cremation is arranged at a date and time to suit the provider with no one in attendance.

If the family require the ashes back, this can be arranged as part of the service.

Due to its simplicity, direct cremation appeals to people who want to save money as it is considerably cheaper than a traditional funeral service. In addition a direct cremation is often chosen by those who don’t like the upset of a traditional funeral service or those who prefer to have a separate celebration of life or memorial service at a later date.

It is worth mentioning that although it is your funeral, the funeral service is all about the family so some people do get upset at the thought of not having a service as a way of saying goodbye and paying last respects. It is therefore important to talk to your family if you think direct cremation is the right type of funeral for you.

The DIY Funeral Service

It may surprise you that there is no legal requirement to have a funeral or use the services of a funeral director, so you can arrange a DIY funeral or home funeral service if you like. Before embarking on a DIY funeral though it is worth thinking about the logistics. For example who will look after the body in the lead up to the home burial? How long will it be kept for and will it require specialist treatment? Where will the person be buried?

In addition to care and preparation of the deceased, for a DIY Funeral you will also need to think about digging the grave and whether you require the expertise of a professional gravedigger.

For more information on DIY funerals, visit the Natural Death Centre website.  

The Burial at Sea Funeral Service

Some of you salty sea dogs out there may have this romantic notion of buried at sea and although it is entirely possible, this type of watery send off can be taxing both in terms of time and cost.

There are only three recognised places in the UK that a burial at sea can be arranged:

  • Off the Needles, Isle of Wight
  • Between Hastings and Newhaven
  • Off Tynemouth, North Tyneside

For burials elsewhere, the cost will be greater and in addition to your death certificate; Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infection and Notice to a Coroner for Intent to remove the Body from the UK, you may also need to provide evidence that your proposed sea burial location is suitable, such as information on water depths, currents, pipelines and fishing.

Of course if you do prefer a watery grave but are put off by the restrictions of a sea burial, you could always opt for cremation and choose to have your ashes scattered at sea instead.

 To pay or not to pay

 In addition to thinking about the type of funeral service, it is also important to think about funeral costs and exactly who will pay for the funeral?

It’s all well and good writing a wish list for the funeral service of the year, but if those left behind are unable to pay the funeral costs, then your chosen funeral service may never materialise.

So as well as thinking about the actual funeral service, also think about whether you are happy leaving the funeral costs to your family; whether they can afford it or if you prefer to pay for the funeral costs yourself.

If the latter then there are a number of ways you can go about it. A life insurance plan or Over 50 life insurance plan as they are also known will leave a cash sum that could help your family, whereas a funeral plan would arrange the funeral costs and the services of a local funeral director too.

It’s worth mentioning that whilst most funeral plans include a set range of funeral services, they can often be tweaked to work in line with your requirements. For example a funeral plan could be used for a woodland burial service; you would just need to ensure that the coffin included in the funeral plan is an eco coffin, accepted by the woodland burial site you intend to use.

For more information on prepaid funeral plans, funeral costs and ways to pay, please click here.

And of course in addition the type of funeral service you want, you may also want to think about the actual detail of the service such as funeral music, poems and readings as well as transportation as again, these days this is not restricted to a hearse and limousines. From VW camper vans to motorbikes; vintage lorry’s to hot rod hearses, the world really is your oyster.

To find out more about your options

Visit our funeral planning hub


over 50 choices blog

  • The Problem with Pay Now, Die Later: Funerals Uncovered TV Programme https://t.co/37iPtb6B7N
  • Our summary on the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2018 https://t.co/zXHMylOYKG
  • I was quoted in the Daily Express today on rising funeral costs https://t.co/TDIgUZzBRE https://t.co/abpYEkSyHO

Follow @Over50Choices on Twitter

Our Trusted Partners

over 50 life insurance    funeral plans   equity release         best energy deals   over 50s car insurance  making a Will

We use cookies to improve our service to you. You can read our cookie policy here. By continuing you agree to our use of cookies.
To learn more about what cookies are and how to manage them visit AboutCookies.org