go your own way - independent funeral services

Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like any free, impartial advice about arranging a funeral or choosing a funeral director, or maybe you are wondering about arranging a home funeral, if you need a sympathetic ear to listen to your thoughts and questions, please do get in touch and I'll do my best to help you find the answers. 

How much does it cost for my services as a Celebrant?

My normal fee as a funeral celebrant is between £190 and £250 depending on length of service, plus a fuel fee - based on google maps estimate. 

This includes the initial visit and any other work to gather information for the tribute, liaising with your Funeral Director ( if you choose to use a different one ) and Venue Staff about music choices and ceremony content, attending the ceremony, and 3 presentation booklets of the ceremony script.  Orders of Service can also be created at an extra cost if required.

How much does a funeral cost?

The Natural Death Centre has some good advice about what things to consider before visiting the funeral directors.

It depends how much you want to pay! You can do a full funeral yourself for around £1200 including the crematorium fees - buy the coffin online, borrow or hire a large enough vehicle to transport the coffin - ( something like a Ford Galaxy or a Mondeo or Volvo Estate) liaise with the local crematorium, who are normally very helpful IF YOU ASK. If you'd like me to help you with these arrangements please call.

A very simple, basic funeral from a local independent funeral director could cost in total around £2,500. The national chain charges are more likely to be around £3500+. All Funeral Directors are obliged to supply you with a simple service IF YOU ASK for it. This usually means: a basic coffin, no chapel of rests visits, no limousines, no choice of day or time at the crematorium. True independents can offer more flexibility whilst still keeping costs down. They have their own vehicles whereas a national chain fleet will have to cover several branches and fit into a usage optimisation plan. The availability of a crew and fleet can restrict your options for an early date for a funeral... more often in fact than a 'fully booked crematorium.' Most independents in this area publish their prices on their websites.

You may wish to consider 'Direct Cremation' where there is no fuss, no viewing, sometimes no ceremony at the time of cremation, (total costs can be under £1000) 
You could arrange a memorial service afterwards for friends and family with the ashes present, at any time and venue of your choice. 

I can point you in the right direction if you want to find the best value alternatives.

See the Natural Death Centre for advice and guidance on keeping funeral costs down.

You may be entitled to a bereavement grant  and/or bereavement allowance from the government to help with finances if your husband/wife/civil partner dies.

How are independent funerals different?

For many people the traditional understanding of a funeral service is one where the procedure is formalised and inflexible and they are allowed only minimal input, or feel under pressure to buy extras. An independent funeral gives a more flexible approach which allows freedom for you to choose the theme and mood of the funeral to reflect and celebrate the life of the person who has died. You can have the ceremony you want, the coffin you want, the music you want at the venue you want. It can be somewhat religious or totally non-religious - you decide. Many people from strong faith backgrounds comment on the fact that they felt included, that there was space for their prayers, or that they were very moved or impressed by the service. 

Is it like a Register Office or Civil Wedding, where no religious references are allowed?

An independent funeral can be whatever YOU choose.  It is true that civil wedding ceremonies must ensure that certain words are spoken and there are some strict rules about what can and cannot be said, sung or read.  There is total freedom with funerals.  Many families I work with initially want no references to religion but during the planning process decide they might like a religious song or a form of prayer. 

Independent funerals offer the freedom to have as much or as little faith content as you like.  There is no liturgy, set service or scripted prayers.  We can use known texts or write everything from scratch.  For example, if the person who has passed away did not believe in God but liked singing along to Songs of Praise, we can use their favourite hymn in the ceremony but not include any prayers or reference to a religion or deity.  You choose whether to refer to a particular religion or belief, or not at all. 

I don't know where to start with what to include in my late family member's funeral.  You didn't know him or her, so how can you make it personal?

I listen to the closest family members and encourage them to tell me about the person who has died.  From what people share in these conversations it is possible to build an accurate picture of the person they have lost.  I help families and friends collect their thoughts and memories and select suitable ceremony elements to prepare a coherent and concise tribute to the life of their loved one.  It is my job to collect and channel what you want to say and remember, not deliver my own thoughts and words.  It can be a little strange to be the only person present who never met the person everyone is there to hear about, but I always feel that I have got to know the person through their family and that is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Feedback from my ceremonies include positive comments on how accurate the picture of their loved one has been painted. For ideas on music choices you can visit Wesley Music* online and have a look at their music libraries - they will show you the wide range of non-religious funeral music and religious funeral music that has already been used for ceremonies in UK crematoria. 

A ceremony might contain some or all of the following elements

Music on entry

Music for reflection/contemplation/prayer/photo slideshow

Music on exit

Opening words of welcome and explanation

Readings/poems/faith readings/hymns


Thanksgiving/Farewell words/Lighting a candle

Curtains close/stay open/coffin stay/leave

Silence for reflection/slideshow of favourite photographs

Time to approach the coffin to say goodbye/place flowers/messages

Closing words of comfort/philosophy/hope for the future

Funeral photographer/webcast/DVD recording

Release of doves/balloons

Who will speak at the ceremony?

We will plan the ceremony format together in advance, then I will usually lead the ceremony and introduce anybody else who plans to speak. This could be a family member or a work colleague or friend. If on the day emotions are overwhelming and someone who had wanted to speak feels they just can't do it, I can step in at short notice to read their tribute or poem. 

Do I contact you directly or via a funeral director?

I would be very happy to talk things through with you and for you to check my availability before you contact anyone. This means we can approach your chosen FD with some options for the funeral day and time. Often the FD will book the crematorium to suit his/her timetable before phoning a celebrant. We can discuss which crematorium has the best facilities you'll need in terms of music system, seating capacity, ease of access and car parking for example. You may decide to book a double time slot (this doesn't cost double by the way!) which would enable you to feel less pressured on the day. For example Guildford Crematorium has only a 20 minutes chapel time, with 30 minutes between ceremonies, allowing 5 minutes in, a 20 minutes service and 5 minutes out. Easthampstead Park, Aldershot, Woking and Reading have 30 minutes chapel time and 45 minutes between ceremonies. Woking Crematorium has a very small car park and a small chapel - perfect for an intimate, small gathering but more difficult (though not impossible!) for a large crowd. You may have a preference based on the fact that other family members have had their funerals at a particular place.  All these considerations are best thought about and discussed before visiting the Funeral Director if possible, so that you enter their premises with a good idea of what you want before you go. Visit more than one and be bold about asking when they are available and how much their fees are, and what do they include? The Natural Death Centre has some good advice about what to think about before visiting the funeral directors.

evelyn temple    tel: 07960 476 996     email:  enquiries@goyourownway.co.uk


Does the ceremony have to end with cremation or can it be a traditional burial?

Burial can take place at the crematorium's municipal cemetery, a woodland burial site, at sea or even in a private garden*. Most people do choose cremation. A civil funeral does not usually end with a burial in a religious burial ground, though some church ministers are accommodating to their local parishioners - if it's your local parish churchyard, ask!  

Can the ceremony take place in a place of worship followed by burial in the churchyard, for example?

Independent funerals can be held at your local crematorium, or a woodland burial site, or any other venue, but usually NOT in a church or religious building.  This is because most churches and places of worship in other faiths have their own procedures and rules for how a funeral should take place.  For example, burial in a church cemetery will usually require the vicar to conduct the funeral, though I have conducted ceremonies for interment of ashes in a churchyard, and a burial in a churchyard following a ceremony held in a local wedding venue barn. Recently I have been in touch with a local Baptist Church who will consider individual applications to use their premises on a case by case basis - they seek to be welcoming to the unchurched as well as their 'flock'!

It may also be an option for you to hold a small traditional religious funeral conducted by a member of the local clergy, followed by an independent/civil memorial service later.  Please feel free to call me or your funeral director for specific advice on your individual situation. 

I want to arrange a really unusual funeral and break all the traditional 'rules'. Are there any legal limitations?

An independent funeral is the perfect format if you want an alternative funeral ceremony. Many people believe that a funeral must be conducted in a specific way and that anything different to the traditional way is illegal. There are in fact very few legal requirements for a funeral, you are not legally obliged to use a church, a hearse, a coffin, or a member of the clergy! There is a lot of freedom in choice of location (such as open air, hotel, pub, on a barge, woodland, your home) music and content style.  The ceremony can be as conventional or alternative as you choose. My expertise is in the planning of the ceremony but I can direct you to ideas such as colourful bespoke coffins, unusual hearses - a campervan or motorbike and sidecar, or unusual send-offs such as ashes being compressed into diamonds, or incorporated into an oil painting, or a biodegradable flower seed card, or blasted into space in a firework, gun cartridge or rocket.  Go your own way!

Do you offer counselling services or keep in touch with families after the funeral?

Not usually, although it's true that I like helping people in the confusing and difficult time of bereavement and families often report that my visit and the process of planning an independent funeral has been extremely therapeutic. I can recommend professional support and counselling where necessary.

How long have Civil Funerals existed?

The Institute was formed in 2004 in order to bring a recognised professional standard to the funeral service.

How do I arrange a Civil Funeral?

There are several options for you to consider:

Please contact me and we can discuss a way forward that suits you without any obligation. 

Feel free to call your local crematorium to check their availability and ask for advice

Many will help and advise you how to arrange a low cost funeral if you ask!

You can ask a local funeral director, (assuming you plan to use one) about a Civil Funeral.

Who can I speak to in order to get a third-party independent opinion about Civil Funerals?

Please ask your funeral director.  I work mainly with local funeral directors  - see my links page for contact details. You can call any of these and ask about their experience with Civil Funerals. You can also contact Easthampstead Park  Crematorium* or Woking Crematorium* where I conduct the majority of my ceremonies. You can check out feedback on my 'what people say' page and on my listing www.funeralcelebrants.org.uk

Can I pre-plan my own funeral?

Yes, certainly.  I will meet you to advise and guide you concerning the ceremony.  

I will of course provide you with a full copy of the ceremony script for you to approve.  

I cannot guarantee that I will be the celebrant conducting the ceremony on the day

 and it is important that you make your wishes clear to your family, solicitor or executor,

 and/or lodge the script with your other significant paperwork.  

* See Links

evelyn temple    tel: 07960 476 996