Practical Matters

On this page I highlight a few things that you may want to be aware of before arranging a ceremony. For more information on funerals generally, do have a look at the Humanists UK website.

You can select a celebrant yourself, or you can ask a funeral director to find one for you. In either case the celebrant and the funeral director will communicate with each other to make sure that everything goes smoothly on the day.

Location of ceremony

A humanist cremation usually takes place in a crematorium chapel, whereas a burial could take place at the graveside or it could start off at another venue − for example, a burial chapel at the cemetery − and then proceed to the graveside for the committal. Memorial services, burials or scattering of ashes could be almost anywhere.

Timing at crematoria

It is important to understand that timing for cremations is strictly enforced. The time available for a ceremony varies, but is typically between 20 and 30 minutes. If you feel that the ceremony will require more time − for example, if many people are likely to be attending, or if it includes lots of music or personal contributions − you may be able to book a double slot. Do discuss this with the funeral director or crematorium office as soon as you can.


In most crematoria and chapels there is an extensive online library of music from which to choose.  If you would like to use something very unusual, or a privately recorded piece, or live music, it is worth flagging this up as early as possible so that arrangements can be made for it to be played.

Order leaflet

Some people choose to have an order leaflet printed, which sets out the order of the ceremony, the music, and perhaps some poetry or prose or short personal tributes. It can become a memento of the occasion for those who attend, so you may want to choose photographs to go in it. Again, this is something to discuss with the funeral director, though more and more people design and print it themselves.