Skip links

Funeral ceremony checklist

Have to plan a funeral and don't know where to start? This checklist will help guide you through the many things to consider and discuss with your funeral director and celebrant.


This funeral ceremony checklist is designed as a support tool for my blog titled 10 Tips for Families for Creating the Perfect Funeral Service. There are up to 33 things to consider, but don’t feel overwhelmed, just use this as a guide.

The death of a loved one is shattering. The shock and grief closes down our nervous system, including the pragmatic side of the brain, and so the task of planning a funeral in the depth of our grief can seem insurmountable. Unless we have been through the process before, we have no idea where to start.

A funeral checklist can help a grieving family to work through and discuss important elements that will create the perfect funeral for your loved one.


As a funeral celebrant, I have a range of questions I need answered by the family so that the ceremony can be a respectful, tender experience for all concerned. That’s why I have created this Funeral Ceremony Checklist so that families can slowly begin the process of planning the funeral for their loved ones.

Whether your loved one has left instructions in an Emotional Will or in the My Funeral Wishes section of the Rest Easy Journal as a guideline, or if they have never discussed their funeral wishes, this checklist may help you and your family to get some clarity around the funeral service you are planning.

There’s no need to answer everything straight away, but some of the questions will be asked by your funeral director, so it’s good to have some answers ready for your discussions with them. With any luck, your loved one will have filled out instructions in the Rest Easy Journal or similar to guide your answers.

  1. Do we want a cremation or burial?
  2. Will there be an open coffin? (This will require embalming).
  3. Funeral director – which one?
  4. What type of coffin? Urn?
  5. Cemetery: plot purchased already? If not, how to arrange and purchase plot?
  6. Religious or secular ceremony?
  7. Which priest/minister/imam/rabbi/pundit/spiritual leader?
  8. Which funeral celebrant?
  9. Which church/cemetery/hall/chapel?
  10. What will be done with the ashes?
  11. Eulogy – who? Who will get info ready for them?
  12. Poems and prayers – which ones and who will read them.
  13. Music on arriving, during the reflection, the video life story and on leaving.
  14. Who will speak, read poems, sing, share memories?
  15. Clothes to be sent to the funeral home – what? Who will arrange/deliver?
  16. Transportation for family to funeral? Who?
  17. Which photo for coffin/service?
  18. Live streaming? Who will oversee this and notify off-site guests of the link?
  19. Who will gather and agree on the photos for the life story video? ‘
  20. Who will put the video together?
  21. Who will check that our equipment (thumb drive, phone, video presentation) works at the chapel/church/graveside?
  22. Do we want flowers (native only?) and tributes or donations?
  23. Who will gather information for the design and printing of the program?
  24. Will we provide a visitor’s book or let the funeral home supply one?
  25. Will we need Pallbearers (6)? Who? All dressed the same? Who will notify them?
  26. Will there be a guard of honour? Who will organise this?
  27. Will we ask for specific clothes for guests? Colourful, black, uniform?
  28. Where will the wake be? How long? Budget? Who will book the venue?
  29. Caterers – who? what? how much?
  30. Funeral notice will appear in newspaper. Who will write it?
  31. Where else will we notify people? Facebook? Email?
  32. How will we arrange payments for services? Who will pay?
  33. Who will check current health requirements during COVID restrictions and make sure they’re adhered to on the day?

Please note: this is a guide only. The funeral director and celebrant you choose will help you with this and will provide a list of what they need from you. It is important, however, that no matter how overwhelming it feels, you begin to discuss the points on this Funeral Ceremony Checklist.

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.