Planning A Funeral - Bath

Planning A Funeral and Celebration of Life

How To Plan A Funeral In Bath

Planning A Funeral In Bath

Funeral Celebrant In Bath

What Does Planning A Funeral Involve?

There's nothing to stop any of us planning a funeral in advance and some people find it very helpful to think about their own funeral. However, most of us avoid planning it until we have to. It's very easy then to be rushed into making decision, which may not be the right ones, and to end up spending more money than we mean to.

If a funeral hasn’t been planned in advance, most people go with the first funeral director they contact because everything feels urgent and overwhelming.

But it makes sense to have an idea of what you want a funeral director to do for you before you commit yourself. The most important thing is to take your time and talk things over with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t allow anyone to rush you into making decisions.

If you want, you can ask a funeral director to collect and look after the body for a day or two until you decide what you want to do about the funeral arrangements. Ask them how much they will charge just to do this. Then, if you decide later that you want to use a different Funeral Director, it’s still possible to do so.

I hope the information below, with links to local resources, will help you think things through.  Good sources of general information are the Good Funeral Guide and Natural Death Centre.  And you’re welcome to contact me for an informal chat with no obligation to use me as a celebrant.

Contact Susanna About A Funeral Service

How will the funeral be paid for?

It’s very easy to feel pressured into spending more because you want to 'do your best’ for the person who has died. But the things you say and do at a ceremony are much more important than the things you buy.

The person who arranges the funeral with the funeral director takes on responsibility for paying for it. Some funeral directors ask for a proportion of the payment up front. If there is money in the deceased person’s estate, it can be used to cover reasonable costs. If they had money in the bank, the bank should be able to settle the funeral director’s bill from there.

If you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to financial help.   At the bottom of this page are some suggestions for reducing funeral costs and I'm happy to talk things through.  


Plan Your Funeral
How Much To Spend On A Funeral


The traditional arrangement is to have a service in a crematorium chapel and a gathering or wake at a different venue.   A 30-minute service works well if you want something simple, but it can feel rushed and you may prefer a ‘double slot’ of an hour. 

But maybe you don’t like crematoria and would rather hold the whole ceremony somewhere else, combining it with the gathering as a single celebration of life.

You could then opt for an unattended cremation (increasingly known as a Direct Cremation) followed by a ceremony and celebration somewhere special to you.

Smaller Funeral Directors will mostly use local crematoria for an unattended cremation, so you'll know when and where it's taking place. Check what they offer before you decide who to use.

There are many national companies specialising in Direct Cremations and they may not tell you when or where the cremation is taking place.    Again check what they offer before you commit yourself. 

If your budget is tight, an unattended cremation is the cheapest option. But if it’s important to you and your family to have the person’s body present at the funeral, it may not be the right choice.


Burials are more expensive than cremations, but returning a person to the ground may be very important to you.

The traditional cemetery in Bath is at Haycombe, which has a variety of different types of grave. You can have the service in the Hilltop Chapel or an alternative venue.

Or you may want a woodland or natural burial ground. Nearest to Bath are Bath Natural Burial Meadow in Midford and Leafy Lane Woods in Box.

If your parish church has an open churchyard, you have a right to be buried there. This would normally be accompanied by a Christian committal at the graveside.

Visit any burial ground and see it for yourself before you make a decision. Costs vary considerably, so make sure you know what all the charges are.

It’s also legal to bury a body on your own land although there are a number of legal restrictions and practicalities to consider.

Should I Choose A Burial Or Cremation?
Burial Service In Bath

Alternative venues

If you choose to have the cremation or burial separate from the main ceremony, you have a real choice of venue – outdoors, hotels, community centres, pubs, sports clubs, your own house or garden. Whatever seems appropriate and whatever fits your budget.

The ceremony can can be longer and more relaxed and you don’t have to go somewhere else for the wake.

It may be more difficult to find a venue if you want the coffin present.    But there are two lovely barns nearby which are used for funerals -  Roundhill Barn in Kelston and Wick Farm near Farleigh Hungerford.   If there are other places you are interested in, I'm happy to research them for you.

It’s worth noting that Funeral Directors may charge if they have to take the coffin from an alternative venue to the crematorium or burial ground.

Green funerals

If you feel strongly about reducing your carbon footprint, the best option is a natural burial ground. But if that's beyond your budget, there are still things you can do. For example, you could choose:

  • a shroud, local willow coffin or one made of recycled wood.
  • an electric hearse
  • a biodegradable casket for ashes
  • locally grown flowers
  • not to have printed orders of service
  • to have a collection for a conservation charity
  • local, organic food at the gathering or wake
  • to plant a tree instead of having a stone memorial
  • a final resting place which is close by so that family and friends don’t have to drive to visit the grave
Cremation Service
Burial Service In Bath

Do it yourself Funerals

Some people prefer to hand all aspects of the funeral over to the funeral director. However, involving yourself in the arrangements or sharing them with friends and family can be very satisfying and make the whole ceremony feel deeply personal. It can also reduce the cost.

You don't have to use a funeral director at all and it's perfectly possible to make all the arrangements yourself. But this does take time and some advance planning.

If that feels too daunting, there are many aspects of a funeral that are not difficult to arrange yourself. At its simplest, services sheets can be designed and printed at home, you can bring your own flowers and family and friends can act as coffin-bearers. If you get a coffin with weight-bearing handles it can be carried low (not on the shoulders), which is easier.

If you want to do a bit more, you could decorate or make the coffin yourself, (though check with the crematorium or burial ground what they allow). Or transport the coffin in your own van.

The key is to have a flexible funeral director who will adapt to your wishes and not charge you within a ‘fixed price package’ for the things that you are doing yourself.

How To Choose A Funeral Director

When choosing a funeral director you want to find someone you both like and trust – someone who listens and spends time finding out what you want rather than suggesting a ready-made package.

You also want want a funeral director who is completely transparent about their costs and terms of payment.

Some funeral directors are local and independent.  Others are owned by national companies like Dignity and Co-op. Some national companies ‘look like’ local independent ones, so it is worth checking if this is something you mind about.

Research different funeral directors and get quotes from two or three. If the person’s death is expected, it is a very good idea to do this in advance.

The funeral industry in the UK is unregulated so, in theory, anyone can set themselves up as a funeral director. You should choose a funeral director who is a member of either the National Association of Funeral Directors or The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. The Good Funeral Guide has a searchable list of their recommended Funeral Directors.

How To Choose A Funeral Director
Choosing A Funeral Director In Bath

What to do with ashes

Many people are unsure what to do with ashes. You may want to keep them and use them in some form of keepsake. But scattering or burying ashes provides a place you can visit and remember.

If you’re arranging a direct cremation, you could choose to have the funeral ceremony or celebration of life a few days later and scatter or bury the ashes then. Or you might decide to keep the ashes for a while and bury or scatter them with a very simple ceremony.

Ashes can be buried in a cemetery or burial ground or on private land with permission from the owner. You can also bury ashes in your garden though there are some legal considerations. And if you move house, you would have no right to visit.

There are no explicit laws in the UK about where you can scatter ashes but you do need permission from the landowner. You can scatter ashes over a river or in the sea without permission but you should check with the environment agency first.

How To Keep Funeral Costs Down

  • Choose a basic coffin – you could decorate it either before or during the service with flowers or pictures, or cover it with a cloth.
  • Embalming is only required by law when the body has to be transported overseas – either to or from the UK. In other circumstances, it is not necessary and may be a cost you want to avoid.
  • Vehicles – choose a less expensive hearse or use your own vehicle if it's big enough.  Arrange your own transport to the venue instead of a limousine.
  • Buy your own flowers or ask friends and family to bring some.
  • Ask family and friends to act as coffin-bearers.
  • Celebrant – you can conduct the ceremony yourself or ask a friend to do it.
  • Orders of service – print these at home or do without.
  • Opt for an unattended or direct cremation.
  • Hold the ceremony at home or an inexpensive venue like a village hall.
  • Ask friends and family to contribute food and drink to share at the wake.
  • When friends ask if there is anything they can do to help, say yes!
How To Keep Funeral Costs Down
Funeral Celebrant For A Funeral Service
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Psalm 23

Frequently Asked Questions About Planning A Funeral