06 April 2020

How to plan a simple, affordable funeral

6 min read



If you’re on a budget and planning a simple funeral, there are plenty of creative ways to make cutbacks. The key is to do your research, consider alternatives to traditional must-haves and take a little time to make some ‘do-it-yourself’ style finishing touches.

Plan ahead

If you want to ensure your funeral is a simple but beautiful affair, forward planning is essential. The more elements you and your family can arrange ahead of time, the fewer last-minute decisions that will need to be made – which can save all parties both money and stress.

If you want to save your family from the burden of funeral debt, you may want to consider taking out a funeral plan (Royal London has a range of funeral plans you may be interested in). While there are different types, typically, at the basic level, they enable you to make advance payments towards your funeral costs, and so take a little of the financial burden off your loved ones.

Set a budget for your funeral

While planning a funeral is obviously an emotional task, it can help to think of it like some of life’s other milestone moments, such as weddings or anniversaries.

The first step to planning such events, which bring many people together and require a great deal of organisation, is to iron out a budget – in line with your desire to keep it simple - and stick to it. If you or your loved ones already have a funeral plan in place, this should help bring the overall cost down to something far more manageable. Your family and friends can always add their own additional flourishes after, if they want to and can afford it.

To create a budget, research the type of funeral you want. Once you’ve worked out the rough costs, let your nearest and dearest know the details, and make it clear that you’d like a simple, no-frills send-off.

Shop around for a funeral director

If you’re looking for a highly recommended funeral director, make sure they’re a member of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, an organisation that promotes best practice in the industry.

You can also ask friends or family for personal recommendations. You can also check out average funeral costs in your region, or call up the funeral directors in your area and ask for their pricing. Their websites should also detail all the costs involved in the various packages they offer.

If possible, have a face to face meeting with the funeral director. This can help you decide if they’re the right fit.

Read the small print

Once you’ve decided on a funeral director, it’s a good idea to look into the items included on the various funeral packages they offer. You want to know exactly what you are paying for, especially if you want to keep your funeral simple. Generally speaking, most UK funeral directors are either specialists in a particular type of package, or offer various options that cater to different needs. They are typically defined like this:

Traditional funeral

  • A traditional funeral usually includes funeral director’s fees, burial or cremation fees, classic hearse, wood veneer coffin, wood ashes casket, a limousine etc. There are also many additional and optional services available to add on, for example a horse-drawn hearse and coachman or floral hearse.

Simple funeral

  • A simple funeral is a no-frills option that takes the traditional funeral package back to its basic form, with a less decorative coffin, transport or even, by having a less popular day or time (this is an opportunity to save costs) and savings on the non-essential elements.

Direct funeral

  • A direct funeral is for those that, for whatever reason, do not wish to hold a funeral or have any form of service at the crematorium.

Keeping it personal

Whether you are arranging your own funeral or planning one for a loved one, you’re sure to have many family members and friends willing to help out and take on some of the tasks. Once the key elements of a funeral are organised, you should then be in a better place to be able to make those simple but effective touches that can really personalise the day.

Creating personalised invitations, designing and printing the order of service booklets yourself, arranging modest flower sprays from your own flower garden (or even requesting that the money for flowers is donated to a worthy cause instead), are all great ways to make a funeral a day to remember. If you have a family member or friend who’s an amazing cook, you could ask them to create the food for the wake rather than hiring a caterer.

A funeral is our way of honouring a person in death, and people are generally delighted to be able to contribute and feel part of this simple but spectacular send-off.

Find out more about funeral plans from Royal London.