Arranging a funeral often involves planning the timing of the day, from the initial funeral procession through to the wake. It’s important to figure out what will happen when and where, so you can inform guests and ensure that each part of the day runs smoothly.
In order to do this, it can be useful to know how long an average funeral service lasts. This can vary depending on the person’s religion and the place of worship where the service is held. And of course, many people plan non-religious or humanist funerals which don’t involve a place of worship. In these cases, a simple service will often be held in the crematorium.
What time are funeral services?
The time a funeral service starts can depend on availability at a church, crematorium or other venue used for the funeral. It can also depend on what works best for the family, according to their plans for the day. However, funeral services in the UK tend to be held in late morning, midday or early afternoon.
Funeral services aren’t commonly held much later than this, as there needs to be enough time for all parts of the occasion - for example, the church service, crematorium or burial service and the wake. Except for the wake, which can extend into the evening, most parts of the funeral will be held in daylight. However, it’s important to give attendees enough time to get to the first venue, which is why late morning is a popular choice.
How long does a church funeral service last?
In general, church funeral services tend to last around an hour, although some can be as short as 20-30 minutes.
The length and content of the service depends on the family’s wishes, as well as any requests left behind by the deceased person. The particular religion of the person can also dictate what is included in the funeral service and how long it lasts. For example, Catholic services involving a full Mass will take a lot longer than those without.
If you choose a church service, you will discuss the hymns, readings, eulogies and other personalised elements you’d like to include. Most churches are happy to work with you to personalise the service and respect the person’s wishes, even if it means spending a little longer planning the service itself.
Most churches book funeral services in one hour slots, but you can of course request extra time depending on the church. You may be required to book a double slot if you think you will run over the allotted time. Bear in mind that this might incur additional costs. Some Church of England, Anglican and Catholic services can exceed an hour.
How long does a Catholic funeral service take?
The length of a Catholic funeral service primarily depends on whether a full Requiem Mass is included, as this can increase the length of a 40-45 minute service to comfortably over an hour. The Mass includes the Holy Communion and the Eucharistic Prayer.
Many Catholics believe strongly in having a Mass said at their funeral, but it isn’t usually obligatory. However, it depends on the church.
How long does a Methodist funeral service last?
Methodist services can last anywhere from 20-30 minutes to an hour, or you can request more time if you feel you need it. These services can be arranged at the church, crematorium or burial plot - or all three if the church offers these options.
How long is a cremation service?
Cremation services tend to be shorter than church funeral services, but not always. Typically, crematoriums book services in half hour slots, but this 30 minutes also takes into account mourners arriving, settling in and leaving.
If you feel you need more time than this, there are a couple of options. Many crematoria offer the chance to book an extra 15 minutes or even a double slot. This could give you a full 60 minutes for the service and the practical elements of getting mourners in and out. If you’re considering this option, it’s important to bear in mind that there will usually be an extra charge if you book an extended or double slot.
As time is often limited at the crematorium, you can also hold a longer service beforehand - either at a church or a non-religious venue. This will usually be held in addition to a smaller service at the crematorium, before the body is cremated.
How long does a humanist funeral last?
Humanist services are unlike church funerals in that they are not structured around traditional religious ceremonies such as prayers or hymns. Humanist funerals tend to be very unique, designed to celebrate the life and mark the passing of the individual. As such, the amount of time they last can vary considerably.
Many humanist funerals contain music, words of welcome, tributes, poetry readings, time for reflection, songs, closing words and final music as curtains are closed or the coffin lowered. They can also be highly personalised, lasting for as little as 20 minutes or as long as a whole afternoon or day.
As they are non-religious, humanist funerals tend to take place at crematoria - but they can also take place in non-traditional venues. It is not a legal requirement to have a funeral service in a church or any other religious establishment, so you can hold a humanist ceremony wherever you like. You don’t even need to use an undertaker, or actually even hold a funeral service if you don’t want to.
It is crucial to remember though that burial or cremation must take place according to UK law, and the death of the person must always be registered.