Can you have a funeral on a weekend

You can have a funeral on any day of the week, but you’ll need to ask for a specific date to secure a weekend service.

Most funeral directors and religious venues will offer a funeral on a Saturday or Sunday, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind.

You usually arrange a funeral up to two weeks after death. This gives friends and family the chance to make arrangements. But this can take longer if the funeral director has limited availability. 

People usually hold funerals on a weekday, between Monday and Friday in the morning or early afternoon. But you can usually arrange a funeral service for the weekend instead.

Arranging a weekend service is easy if the venue is available

If you decide that a weekend service suits your needs more than a weekday, then it will generally be easy to arrange. You need to speak to the funeral director who can let you know if a weekend service is available and speak with the crematorium, church, or other service site on your behalf. 

It’s also possible to contact the venue yourself if you’re not using a funeral director. You can find contact numbers online or in directories, and staff at the venue can help you organise the service and go through the details of booking a weekend service.

Funeral directors look after the body as well as organising the funeral

It’s your choice whether or not to engage a funeral director, but it’s good to know the extent of what a funeral director does after a death. 

In each case, funeral directors will:

  • Collect the person who's died and bring them to the funeral home

  • Dress and preserve the body for viewing and in preparation for the service

  • Organise the service and provide coffin bearers to carry the coffin into the venue

  • Handle the legal documents necessary to hold a burial or cremation

More people can arrange to come to a weekend funeral 

Not everyone who wishes to come to the service can take time off from work to be there, especially if they have to travel from another part of the country or overseas. A weekend service gives extra travelling time, and allows people to be there for longer.

A growing number of funeral directors, crematoria and cemeteries now regularly offer Saturday morning time slots for anyone who would struggle to make a weekday service work. Sunday services tend to be a little less common and you can only book them on request if they are available.

Weekend funerals tend to cost more

Holding a morning or early afternoon funeral on a weekday is generally cheaper than having the service later in the afternoon. As funerals do not regularly take place on the weekend, there may be an additional cost of between £500 and £1,000.

With the average cost of a funeral in the UK coming in at around £4,417, options for simpler, more affordable funerals are also becoming more widely available.

Holding religious services on a Saturday or Sunday

Historically speaking, it’s been difficult to host religious services on the weekend as Saturday and Sunday are often considered holy days. 

For this reason, Jewish funerals cannot take place on a Saturday, as it is the Shabbat, or Jewish day of rest. Similarly, Catholic services could nnot take place on a Sunday, as it’s a day reserved for worship. This restriction has eased over recent years,with funerals taking place after morning worship has finished. This is very much at the discretion of the church, so if you’re organising the funeral you’llwant to check what their position is.

Some religions require quicker funerals

While the Christian and Jewish faiths permit a period of weeks between a death and the funeral, some religions require a more immediate service.

Islam

A Muslim funeral, or Janazah, is expected to take place within 24 hours of a death. Extenuating circumstances such as police investigations may cause a delay, but the preference is for the person who’s died to be buried as soon as possible.

Hinduism 

similarly to Islamic tradition, people who organise Hindu funeral want them to happen quickly with one to two days after death being normal

Sikhism

sikh funerals traditionally take place within three days of a death, giving the family more time to make preparations. Sikh cremations can take place during the day or night, depending on the rules of the venue.

Buddhism

Buddhists tend to prefer cremation and to organise funerals quickly after somebody has died. They believe the soul is still inside the body after death, so try to avoid doctors performing post-mortems or anyone embalming the body wherever possible.

The type of funeral service you choose affects when you can hold it

There are a number of different types of funeral available. Before you make a choice though, it’s worth knowing how that choice affects the likelihood of having a weekend service:

  • Traditional burial - as weekend burials have become more common you are more likely to be able to book a Saturday or Sunday service then ever before.  

  • Cremation - crematoriums have also made things easier for anyone wanting a weekend service in recent years, but you should check with your funeral director, as they’ll know more.

  • Direct cremation - with a direct cremation there’s no service to plan. The ashes will be returned to you, and you can arrange a gathering or send off in the venue of your choice at any time.

  • Woodland burial - a woodland burial, or eco funeral, can require a specialist funeral director who knows the land available and has biodegradable coffins. Because this is not always a religious ceremony it’s more likely that you can choose any date that suits both you and the funeral director.

  • Burial at sea - the biggest obstacle for planning a burial at sea on a specific date is the weather, as boats will not go out if the conditions are too bad. You might need to wait longer if you want the service to be held on a specific day.

If you know you want a weekend funeral

Your funeral director should be able to help you book one. Funerals may have always been traditionally held mid-week, but if a Saturday or Sunday works best for you and other attendees, then the chances are good that it can be arranged.

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