Ways to Reduce Costs of a Funeral

Ways to Reduce Costs

Funerals can be expensive, but there are a number of ways to keep your costs down while still creating a wonderful ceremony for your loved one.

Direct Cremation and Direct Burial

The cost of a direct cremation or direct burial is much lower than a traditional burial or cremation. According to the SunLife Cost of Dying 2024 Report, the average cost of a direct cremation in 2023 was £1,498, and £1,657 for a direct burial (compared to £3,795 for a basic funeral with a cremation and £5,077 for a basic funeral with a burial).

It is important to understand that at a direct cremation or burial, family and friends are not present and generally it is not possible to choose the time or day that it takes place.

A memorial service or celebration of life can be held at a later date, when loved ones have had more time to plan and to think about how they would like honour and remember the life of the person they have lost.

After a direct cremation the ashes are returned to the family in the usual way.

To find out more about direct cremation, please see our Blog What is Direct Cremation? – Your Questions Answered.


Flowers can be picked from your garden or ask a kind friend or family member to provide them. People are usually only too happy to help.

Your Funeral Director may be able to source flowers for you, or you can order them directly from a local florist (see Flowers & Plants in the Inspiration and Providers sections of whiteballoon).

Coffins and Urns

There are many options for coffins, urns and shrouds with prices varying considerably depending on style and material.

A rented external wooden or wicker coffin with a cardboard coffin insert that is removed before cremation will significantly lower the cost.

Shrouds can be less expensive and are an acceptable alternative for most types of funeral. 

Coffins & Urns in our Inspiration and Providers sections have lots of lovely ideas and you can sometimes order directly, although many companies only supply through a Funeral Director. Also, please note that coffins and urns bought as part of a package from a Funeral Director are exempt from VAT. 


Prices vary not only from site to site to site but also depending upon the time of day, so do compare crematoria in your local area (see Funeral Locations).

Order of Service

Some people choose to print the order of service themselves or use an online company. For information on how to put together an Order of Service here and the Stationery for Funerals sections in Inspiration and Providers  has lots of examples and ideas and can connect you with suppliers.


Typically, six pallbearers are used to carry or escort a coffin, although depending on the weight you may require a different number.

Some people choose not to have a procession and instead arrange for the coffin to be quietly placed inside the church, chapel or crematorium, ready for when mourners arrive.

You may like to ask family or friends. Both men and women can be pallbearers and it is a lovely opportunity for them to take an active part in the funeral. When choosing from family and friends, bear in mind how the coffin will be carried (on shoulders, at waist height, or on a wheel bier – a small trolley) and also the distance from the hearse to where the service is taking place. If it is to be borne on the shoulders of the pallbearers, choosing people of a similar height will be important. If the coffin will be placed on a wheel bier, then height, strength and distance is less important.


It is a time when family and friends really want to rally round and help. Spreading the load by accepting offers or asking those close to you to bring cakes or sandwiches can save time and money. If you do need outside help and want to compare the options, see our Catering Inspiration and Caterers and Planners Providers sections.

Headstones and Memorials

These come in many different shapes, sizes and materials and the prices vary enormously. The best thing to do is to decide on your budget then look for Inspiration and Providers in the Stonemasons & Memorials sections to get ideas and find local suppliers. Don’t forget to check with the place where your loved one is going to be laid to rest to see if there are any restrictions in size, etc. The stonemason or your funeral director will be able to give you further advice on what is available.

Grave Diggers

Some people choose to dig the grave of their loved one themselves. This will depend on the rules of the cemetery or natural burial ground and you would need to obtain written consent from the appropriate authorities.

Hygiene Treatment

Embalming is only necessary if the body is going to be viewed before the funeral. These days, chilled matresses can allow you to have your loved one at home for a few days before the service, so embalming is often not required.

Conducting the Service

There is no legal requirement to have an officiant take the funeral service. If your loved one was not religious and if the ceremony is not on consecrated ground, you, a family member or a friend can conduct the service.

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