A guide to arranging your own funeral

Although it can be a difficult topic to discuss, planning your own funeral ahead of time can be greatly beneficial. Whether you’re concerned for the future due to a serious illness or simply looking to be prepared, arranging your own funeral service not only relieves the burden from the people close to you but also ensures your life is celebrated in the way you choose when you’re gone. 

Our funeral directors at Heart of England are here to offer support during this process and provide you with everything you need to know about arranging your own funeral so you can make informed choices that are best for you and your loved ones.

Is it normal to plan your own funeral?

Yes, while many people are not aware that is an option, planning your own funeral is a completely normal thing to do and is in fact more popular than you may realise. Making arrangements for your end-of-life celebrations ahead of time can be hugely beneficial both financially and emotionally for you and your loved ones, helping to remove some of the stresses that can make grieving so difficult. 

What is the best way to plan your own funeral?

Planning a funeral can take out a lot of the guesswork for your loved ones who will handle funeral planning in your absence. By documenting your final wishes and putting a plan into place for what your end-of-life celebration will look like, planning your own funeral can be an incredible act of love for those closest to you mourning during this time. One of the best ways to do this is through a pre-paid funeral plan.

Here at Heart of England, we offer a pre-paid funeral plan service that means you can easily plan for tomorrow, today. Our pre-paid funeral plan will ensure you have everything taken care of from the moment of death to beyond the burial. Our team of friendly funeral directors will talk you through the processes of funeral planning, from choosing cremation or burial to the location, types of flowers and readings, as well as managing your finances and estate through your will. 

This pre-paid service also allows you to have financial control over the funeral with a payment plan that allows you to pay the price of your service as it stands today. This funeral plan will also cover all third-party costs and once a complete fee has been agreed upon, that is the amount you will pay for the options you have chosen. If any costs do increase over time from finalising the plan to the funeral, you or your loved ones will pay nothing extra.

How do you organise a funeral checklist? 

Many factors go into the funeral planning process, from the type of service you wish to have, to the method of burial, type of coffin, service music, memorial flowers and many more. Therefore, putting together your funeral plan before your passing can streamline the process for those closest to you in the future and ensure your final wishes are honoured. Below, we have outlined the key components of planning into a funeral checklist so you can be sure you have all bases covered when arranging your service.

Decide between burial or cremation

One of the most important choices you will have to make when arranging your funeral is to decide whether you wish to be buried or cremated. This choice is completely down to you, but either choice will result in a different type of funeral service.


If you choose to be buried, you must consider whether you want a traditional burial or a natural burial as a more environmentally friendly option. We cannot cover the cost to purchase the grave in the cemetery or churchyard of your choice and this is because the cost for a grave purchase varies significantly from area to area, with many local authorities charging double fees or more for purchases by people living outside the area. What we do cover is the cost of the interment i.e. the preparation or digging of the grave.


If you would prefer to be cremated, you must decide which cremation process you would prefer, such as traditional cremation or water cremation (alkaline hydrolysis) which could become more popular in the coming years once it has been fully legalised. When it comes to the funeral for cremation, you can choose to have the service before or after the cremation happens. You will also need to make plans for whether you want your ashes to be buried, scattered or kept in an urn with your loved ones – in some cases you can have a combination of these options. If you want to familiarise yourself with your options and popular choices, our ‘What to do with ashes after cremation’ blog can help you come to a decision.

Select the type of funeral service

Once you’ve decided whether you want to be buried or cremated, it’s now time to decide on what type of funeral service you want – a traditional funeral or a celebration of life. This again is a personal choice on how you want your loved ones to come together to mourn you and what would be most healing for those you will leave behind. There is also the option for an unattended funeral if that would fit your desires better.


A funeral is the most traditional choice and often follows a more formal, structured format that often includes religious and cultural rituals. A religious leader or officiant will lead the service which may include music, prayers, readings and a eulogy. A funeral is typically held at your chosen church or crematorium, where the coffin or urn will be present, alongside various floral arrangements.

Celebration of life

On the other hand, a celebration of life is a more modern funeral alternative that typically doesn’t include any religious or cultural elements and is held at a more casual location instead of a funeral home or church. In this type of end-of-life celebration, your body is usually not present. A celebration of life is a more reflective service that focuses on the positive ways the deceased has impacted the lives of others and will often include a slideshow of pictures and people telling their favourite stories.

You may choose to have a funeral and also a celebration of life if you wish. A celebration of life can be a good opportunity for those who were unable to attend the funeral to still remember the deceased.

Choose your preferred coffin or urn

The next step would be for you to pick out what type of coffin or urn you would like. There are many different options to choose from and they will vary depending on personal aesthetic preferences and price. Picking out your own ensures you get what you want.

For more information on what is available to you, head over to our dedicated coffin page or download our brochure.

Select a burial plot and headstone

Once you have decided on the type of funeral and coffin you want, now is the time to consider preselecting and paying for a burial plot (if you’re opting for a burial rather than a cremation). Generally, you are free to choose any cemetery you wish. When choosing your burial plot, there are many factors to consider, however, cost and location are the most important. Choosing a scenic spot with a nice view or under a tree will give family members a peaceful place to visit once you’ve passed. 

Once you’ve chosen your plot, you must now decide on what type of headstone or grave marker you wish to mark your plot. You can decide to keep it classic with granite or marble headstones, all of which can be engraved along with a photo if you wish. There are many different types of memorials to choose from and here at Heart of England we have a simple headstone brochure that can help advise you on what memorial masonry is best for you.

Decide on your final outfit

Whether you’re going to be buried or cremated, or have an open or closed coffin, when planning for your final arrangements you should consider what outfit you may wish to wear. The outfit you choose is down to personal preference, some people may choose a formal dress or suit while others may choose a sentimental piece of clothing. 

You can also choose any memorable items you may want in your coffin alongside with you such as photographs, favourite books or jewellery, or you can choose to leave this open to your loved ones to decide upon at a later date.

Plan out the details of your funeral service 

The final and one of the most important parts of organising your own funeral is to plan out the details of your service. Whether you choose to have a traditional funeral or a celebration of life, planning out the intricate details of the day will ensure that your end-of-life ceremony goes exactly as planned and will also protect your loved ones, allowing them to grieve without the pressure of planning the funeral. Below, we have listed a few of the key details that you should consider when planning your own funeral service.


When it comes to deciding on a location for your funeral, a church or crematorium chapel are the most common options.. 

Choose a dress code

Traditionally, most funeral attire consists of dark formalwear, however the dress code you choose is entirely down to your personal wishes. If you would prefer people to come dressed in bright colours, your favourite sports teamwear or anything they want, then you can outline this in your funeral plan so guests know how to honour you appropriately.

Pick your funeral flowers and other decor 

Flowers play a huge role in a traditional funeral and there are many types of flowers to choose from that each have particular meanings. You may want to choose your favourite flowers to have on display at the funeral or keep it classic with traditional funeral flower arrangements that include lilies, carnations and roses. Our guide on how to choose funeral flowers can also help you get to know your options if you’re unsure.

Choosing other memorable decor such as photographs, mementoes and collectables to have on display is also an option. It is common for a lot of funerals to now include a slideshow of photographs collected by loved ones, so you can choose to put together a selection of your own favourite memories to be shown at your funeral too. A guest book is also a popular choice to have on display for attendees to write down a condolence message or special memory for loved ones to look back on.

Make a playlist

Music can also play a huge role in a funeral service. Although this step is optional, some people may wish to have their favourite songs played at their memorial service. If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing, make a playlist of meaningful songs to pass onto your loved ones to refer to when the time comes. You can also find inspiration and guidance in our blog on choosing funeral songs.

Share your final wishes with your loved ones

The final step of the funeral planning process is to talk through your final wishes with the people closest to you who will most likely be in charge of carrying out your final wishes. This will include discussing why you have chosen the options you have for burial, cremation, embalming etc. and why it’s important to you. It can also be a good time to have conversations about your will and discuss who will receive your most important possessions and assets. 

Although these conversations may be difficult to have, they will help to prevent any confusion and conflict that could occur in your final days or after you have passed. It will also give your loved ones reassurance of knowing what to do when the time comes as all arrangements have been made. 

Plan the perfect service with Heart of England

If you’re searching for more information or advice surrounding starting the process of arranging your funeral, our funeral directors are more than happy to help. Contact us today and one of our friendly directors will be there to answer all of your funeral planning queries. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more information on pre-paid funeral plans, head on over to our blog on how pre-paid funeral plans work to see if that is the right option for you.