A Guide to The Order of Funeral Services : Wales & UK

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If your loved one has passed away, you may find yourself planning a funeral and not knowing where to begin, not knowing what happens during the funeral may feel daunting and having an understanding of the order of service may help you prepare for the day ahead as best as you can. 

This helpful guide will take you through each step of the standard Wales & UK funeral services, giving you an understanding of what to expect on the day. 

What is included in a funeral service?

Traditional funerals include having visitations with your loved one before the ceremony, you and your family will be able to individually say goodbye in a private restroom. Then as per your loved one’s wishes it is typical to host a service in which prayers, hymns, songs, scriptures and eulogies are presented, followed by the burial or cremation. 

There are other funeral service options such as cremation without ceremony in which your loved one would have preferred a simpler service, this includes a small family gathering for cremation and scattering of ashes. 

What’s the main aspects on the day of the funeral?

Typically the beginning of the day will consist of you & your close family and friends arriving at the funeral before guests, many families choose to hire cars for this occasion. You will then be transported to the funeral ceremony. 

Following the ceremony the cremation or burial will take place and finally you may wish to invite your guests to a reception or wake.

Many families choose to have large receptions to honour the loved one’s life, this is where food & drink is served and friends pay their respects to the grieving family. However it is also common to have an intimate reception with only family, due to covid-19 funeral services including receptions and wakes had been restricted to less than 30 guests, however with restrictions lifting we may begin to see more guests & attendants allowed. Please check with your local government on their restrictions & requirements for any funeral services in 2021. 

Who speaks at funeral services?

At a traditional service the religious ceremony leader will speak first during the ceremony, this will be a moment where they briefly discuss the person you are honouring, a little about them & their family, if the deceased was a close member of the religious community then the leader may speak a little about them relating personal stories or events, however this is not required. 

If the loved one has requested that a family member or friend speaks a eulogy honouring their life then the nominated person would usually give a speech discussing the fond memories with the loved one, or relating who they were as a person to the guests. 

If no member of family or community has been nominated to perform the eulogy then guests may take it upon themselves to say a few words for the deceased.

Family members and friends may also choose to read passages from religious scriptures or poems that remind them of the deceased instead of a speech.  Typically each family member who has to choose to give a speech or passage will speak between 3-10 minutes each. 

How long does a funeral service last?

Depending on your religion and beliefs some funerals can take days, however most traditional funerals in the UK will last for about an hour, this includes the speaking from the religious leader & family, followed by the burial or cremation. The service may be one of the shortest points of a funeral, as it is usually the reception & wake that lasts the afternoon- evening. 

What music or songs will be played during a funeral service?

It is common for funeral music to be a favourite hymn that guests will receive lyrics to sing with, alternatively some more personalised funerals may play a favourite song, in recent years popular funeral songs include Lay Me Down by Sam Smith, Flying Without Wings by Westlife & Over The Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz. Although there are no set rules on choosing the perfect funeral song, it can simply be a song that your loved one has requested or one that reminds you of them. 

If you’re having problems deciding on what song to select you can ask others for advice, and think about the type of tone you’d like to set, otherwise your local funeral director may be able to offer suitable hymns that may set the tone you are looking for. 

Order of Service Booklet

The order of service booklet can be a vital part of your loved ones funeral, it will help guide your guests and instruct them of what will be happening throughout the course of the day. Designing your order of service booklet is pretty straightforward, however your funeral service directors will be able to provide a template for you including in your funeral plan & packages should you wish. 

Typically include in the booklet is ;

  1. Cover page – This will typically have a photo of your loved one, name, date of birth – date of death & location of service.
  2. A brief outlining of the service 
  3. Personal details 
  4. Related hymns that will be sung 
  5. Prayer that will be presented
  6. Closing page – A final image and a thank you to all attendants 

Leaving a funeral

Towards the end of the service your guests & attendants will begin to leave, typically offering words & advice and comfort, it’s common for the family of the deceased to say a final speech before this moment thanking everyone for their attendance and expressing how thankful your loved one would have been. At no point are you obligated to be the last people remaining, however it is usually the case as family will stay longer in most circumstances

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