In this section
How can I make the funeral ceremony even more meaningful?
Can I add religious content into a Celebrant-led funeral service?
How long does a Funeral service last?
If you’ve never planned a funeral before, making the funeral and burial arrangements – from picking out the casket, the music, and even deciding who will speak at the service – can seem overwhelming, especially at such an already distressing time.
However, planning a funeral can be a cathartic way to say goodbye to your loved one, and offers you and your family a way to truly celebrate their lifetime. So it’s understandable that even the little details take may take on new importance.
One of the most common questions our celebrants are asked when helping to plan a funeral is how long is it appropriate for the service to last.
Ultimately, a funeral service is as unique to a person in death as they were in life, and there is no right or wrong answer. There are, however, certain things you ought to take into consideration throughout the planning that may give you an indication.
How to Determine How Long a Funeral Should Last
It’s important when planning a funeral that you aim to set out a clear structure and allow a specific amount of time for the service. A celebrant will be able to help you set out the details of the service, and help you to arrange the service in the appropriate order. This should enable you to gauge a relatively accurate time frame.
But why is it important to know how long a service will last?
There are a number of reasons why it is important to know the correct length of time for the funeral service, including purely logistical reasons, such as booking the venue and allowing attendees to arrange travel to and from.
Whilst there is no hard and fast rule to how long a funeral service should last, there are a number of factors you should consider throughout the planning that may affect the duration of the service.
Factors That May Affect Funeral Service
Cultural and Religious Traditions
When planning a funeral service, it’s important to consider the cultural and religious needs of the deceased.
Religion and culture have a huge impact on people’s lives and even in death, it may be important to include the religious and cultural practices and rites of their denomination or belief. Especially since a lot of these practices may be believed to be necessary for the person to rest in peace.
Funeral rites will be specific to each religion, as such, the length of time necessary for the service will differ accordingly.
Funerals, unfortunately, can be expensive. It’s important that throughout the planning you keep your expenses in mind and within a set budget. Remember that some locations may charge extra fees if the service runs over, so it is important to talk through the proposed schedule with your celebrant prior to the service, in order to get an accurate timeframe.
The Number of Attendees
If you have a large number of people coming to the funeral, it may be wise to leave a time allowance of 15 minutes either side of the service to allow your guests to be seated, and then to leave afterwards, without overrunning the time you’ve booked the venue for.
Similarly, factor time into the length of the service for your guests to offer their condolences to you and your family members.
Often, before they die, your loved one may make specific wishes known, whether verbally or through their last will and testament, regarding their funeral arrangements. Outside of traditional funeral rites, your loved one may wish to have certain songs played, have attendees dress up in costumes, or even have a bespoke ceremony performed.
A celebrant will be able to help you accommodate anything you may want or need for the funeral service, no matter how outlandish it may seem. As much as a funeral service is a chance to lay your loved one to rest and mourn their passing; it is also a time to remember who they were, and celebrate their idiosyncrasies. And, if that happens to be inviting the attendees to wear the colours of their favourite football team, then so be it.
The Type of Funeral Service
The length of a cremation may vary, although most last for around 40 minutes, including the entry and exit. You can use the time to perform eulogies, readings, or simply sit in remembrance. Usually, the coffin is not cremated immediately and is instead after mourners have left.
Regardless of any individualisation, burial services and cremation services both differ in length.
Burial services tend to last longer. If you are following the format of a more traditional burial, there may be a short service held first, followed by a committal of the body into the ground. Dependent on the wishes of the deceased, the former may have to include time for an open casket, performances or other ceremonies. You may also need to factor in travel time here between where the initial service is held to the place where the body will be buried.
Ultimately, the biggest factor at play in the length of the service is the wishes of the deceased, and of yourself and your family.
Hiring a celebrant for the funeral service
Planning a funeral can be stressful, especially if your loved one has some very particular wishes that need to be fulfilled.
Our celebrants offer a holistic service and can assist you in the planning of the funeral and offer support through this difficult time. Celebrants are used to accommodating different funeral services and are well practised in pulling in various traditions, concepts and conceit to tell a story that is uniquely theirs.