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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 life. 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 unique to a person in death as they were in life, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, there are certain things you ought to consider throughout the planning that may give you an indication.

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 help you set out the details of the service and help you 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 some 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 as to how long a funeral service should last, you should consider a number of factors throughout the planning that may affect the duration of the service. Check out our extensive list of Melbourne Funeral Services to help you arrange a funeral for your loved one.

Factors That May Affect Funeral Service

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 you keep your expenses in mind and within a set budget throughout the planning. 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 before the service to get an accurate timeframe.

The Number of Attendees

Suppose you have a large number of people coming to the funeral. In that case, it may be wise to leave a time allowance of 15 minutes on 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.

Specific Wishes

Often, before they die, your loved one may make specific wishes known, whether verbally or through their 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 ones 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 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 individualization, burial services and cremation services both differ in length.

Burial services tend to last longer. If you follow the format of a more traditional burial, there may be a short service held first, followed by the committal of the body into the ground. Dependent on the deceased's wishes, 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 yourself and your family. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.

What Is The Average Time Between Death And Funeral?

Typically, a modern American funeral occurs within a week of death or up to two weeks with embalming.

So if it feels like everything is happening quickly, it's because it is. There are many options to consider and decisions to make when planning a funeral, and 5-10 days is enough time to arrange everything, but it can be a bit of a rush.

Historically, funerals had to happen relatively quickly due to the inevitable decomposition of the body. But a week is by no means the rule. In some regions and cultures, funerals may occur as soon as a day or two after death. On the other hand, with proper preservation methods, the funeral can occur up to two weeks, or even a month following the passing.

Assuming that the body will be present at the funeral, embalming and/or refrigeration will be necessary to keep the deceased well-preserved before the funeral if it will be longer than a few days.

Are the remains cremated? Then this is a different story. Once the cremation has occurred, the funeral can occur whenever the family would like. On a similar note, if the deceased is already buried or the ashes already scattered, a memorial service can be scheduled for any later date.

How long does it take to organize a funeral?

The type of funeral you'd like to organize can affect how long it takes to plan. For example, if you're thinking of unique funeral ideas and want to have a quirky funeral for the departed, availability and extra special planning can cause delays. Also, there are often things that need to be considered when planning a funeral, leading to it becoming more of a prolonged process than intended. This could include:

  • Accounting for friends and relatives who live out of the area and would need to travel/book time off to attend the funeral
  • We are ensuring close relatives and friends aren't on holiday at the time of the proposed funeral date.
  • Avoiding upcoming events that have already been pre-planned, e.g. a relatives' birthdays

Once you have everything in order, planning what will be said at the funeral, the order of service, and the logistics of the day need to be taken care of. This can be as thought out and as carefully planned as you like – but it's likely that regardless, you'll be planning up until a few days before the funeral.

How Long Can You Delay A Funeral?

As funerals are usually between one to three weeks after a death, it's unwise to delay the funeral for too long. The initial rush to organize a funeral so soon after death is required due to nature's natural course of body decomposition, as well as emotional urgency – as mourners want to be able to say goodbye and make their peace with the passing of a loved one.

However, it's important to acknowledge that sometimes delays cannot be avoided. This could be because:

  • The deceased's body is part of a criminal investigation and needs to be preserved for post-mortem and criminal evidence purposes
  • The deceased was a soldier whose remains have not yet been found
  • The deceased has been categorized as a missing person
  • Relatives or friends may live overseas and could not be able to travel for a few weeks

However, it may be beneficial to hold a memorial service in any of these instances when you can – but be swift in organizing the actual burial or cremation as soon as possible, depending on how long it will take to have the actual funeral.

How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost

How much is it going to cost to honour your loved one with a memorable goodbye? You only get one chance to celebrate this special person's life, but how should you budget for funeral expenses, whether the person who has died had set money aside or not?

If you are paying for a funeral in the United States, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars on funeral costs – depending on the specific services you'd like to include in the funeral package. A life insurance policy can often cover the funeral cost, but family members might need to come up with the cash before the insurance reimbursement comes through.

A good funeral home supports you in planning a funeral, but they offer transparency in the cost of services and funeral expenses. Look at the average funeral cost in 2021, set a budget, then prioritize the services that best align with your personal preferences and goals.

The average funeral cost depends on the type of funeral package you choose (burial or cremation) and a variety of other factors that can influence the price: location, services, funeral products, transportation, venue, and more.

The latest numbers from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) show that most families pay an average of $7,360 for the funeral, or $8,755 if the cemetery requires a vault. Remember that these average funeral costs don't include outside services, such as the burial plot, transportation, or flowers. So, the overall average funeral costs can quickly run between $10,000 - $20,000 in total.

Average Funeral Cost Breakdown: Categories and Services

Planning a funeral is much like looking at a menu of options. Your funeral director will generally provide package options that include the most popular services. Need help in planning a funeral service? Check out Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals in Melbourne.

You can choose a funeral package that matches your preferences or select an a la carte approach that allows you to hand-pick the specific services you desire.

Every funeral should be as unique as the person being honoured. So, your funeral director will encourage you to be creative in designing services that fit your family traditions and customs.

Here's an overview of some of the costs that will influence the price you pay for funeral or cremation services:

  • Casket: How much is a casket? Prices vary depending on the type of casket you desire. A cremation casket for the cremation process can be as low as $1,000, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,400 to $10,000 for a burial casket or even more for a more luxurious option. Less expensive yet still lovely casket materials include fibreglass, fiberboard, metal, or plastic. Eco-friendly caskets can also be affordable and beautiful. For caskets made of bronze, mahogany, copper and other higher-end materials, or customized caskets, bespoke prices will reflect the details.
  • Vault: Many cemeteries require each casket to be placed inside an enclosure, known as a vault. This extra layer of burial protection is often made of cement and will cost around $1,400.
  • Urn: What type of container would you like to use to store and display your loved one's cremated ashes? Urns tend to be quite a bit cheaper compared to caskets, and they do vary in price. You might budget $300 for a simple memorial urn, but there is a wide variety of options, styles and prices depending upon materials and details. Note that your crematory provider must include a basic plastic container as part of the cremation service. You can always take your time choosing your preferred urn and have the ashes transferred by your funeral home at a later time when you're ready.
  • Cremation: The cremation fee will be lower if you work with a direct cremation provider, such as a funeral home with an on-site crematory. Since most funeral homes don't own crematoriums, it's common to outsource the cremation to another provider. This direct cremation cost can start at around $500-1000, often with an additional fee for the funeral home coordination.
  • Funeral Home: The funeral director and support staff need to be paid for their time, so a funeral service fee is often added to the cost. This funeral expense may run more than $2,000 and covers all administrative support before, during, and after the funeral services.
  • Ceremony: Other funeral home expenses might include several hundred dollars and up to use the funeral home chapel for a memorial or funeral, plus an extra fee for staffing support during the event depending upon the complexity of your service and the number of people attending. The venue cost can be higher or lower, depending on where you want to hold the services. For example, some churches offer free use of the chapel for congregation members. Other times, families pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to book a local event venue.
  • Embalming: It's not always necessary to pay for preservation services, especially if you're interested in a more eco-friendly option. However, if your loved one is transferred interstate, or if you want to hold open-casket services, then you might expect to pay between $700 - $800 for embalming.
  • Transportation: The funeral director will take care of the transport to the funeral home after your loved one has died. Transportation may be included in the basic funeral package, or you might be charged a few hundred dollars. You'll likely pay another transportation fee for the hearse that takes the casket from the funeral venue to the cemetery. Some funeral homes also provide transportation for the family, such as a limousine for around $150.
  • Viewing Preparation: You want your loved ones to look their best during an open-casket viewing. Cosmetic services often start around $250 and include professional styling for makeup, hair, and clothing that you provide.
  • Other Burial Costs: The burial plot price depends on the cemetery you choose and even the location within the cemetery, with costs often running between $1,000 - $4,000. Burial plots in big cities are in higher demand, so they usually cost more than small-town burial plots. A simple headstone can be as cheap as $300 or as pricey as $5,000 - $10,000 for an upright or elaborate monument design.
  • Flowers: A full floral package for a funeral can range widely, as with any important event. It all comes down to which florist you choose and what style and quantity of arrangements you want to include. Some sources quote $200 - $800 as a good number to budget for funeral service flowers, but this depends on your vision. A common tradition is to adorn the casket with flowers – known as a casket spray. The price of these flowers will depend on the specific blooms you choose but often run between $150 - $550. If you blanket the casket in rare orchids or peonies, for example, your budget may run into the thousands. Wreaths, bouquets, and standalone sprays can be $50 - $250 each on the more modest end but can run into the high hundreds or even thousands of dollars for more elaborate designs or premium blossoms. If you want boutonnieres (lapel flowers), you might budget anywhere between $10-40 each. If cost is a factor, make sure to share your priorities with the funeral director or florist directly so they can help you create a beautiful design that suits your needs. There are also some tribute collections available online that are attractive and affordable.
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