Choose a type of funeral ceremony

As with final disposition, a specific type of funeral ceremony may be specified in the deceased's last will and testament or other end-of-life documentation.

If not, religious traditions and customs may help guide decisions when planning.

However, no matter the religious affiliation, a funeral service typically:

  • Occurs shortly after the death
  • Takes place before burial or cremation
  • Occurs with the body present
  • Is traditionally guided by religious or cultural traditions
  • Takes place at a funeral home, religious institution, or cemetery (known as a graveside service)

While there are only a few different methods of final disposition due to state law, there are a variety of ways to conduct a funeral service.

Ultimately, the surviving family is free to customize these services to remember the deceased however they see fit.

See below for some ideas.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to know Choose the final disposition before the funeral service, because the service will likely follow the logistics of disposition. For example, if the deceased is to be buried, you may want a graveside service at the cemetery.

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The most common type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a "traditional" funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and a formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment, or cremation of the remains.

It is generally the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to the funeral home's basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body; rental of the funeral home for the viewing or service; and use of vehicles to transport the family if they don't use their own. The costs of a casket, cemetery plot or crypt, and other funeral goods and services also must be factored in.

In addition to a traditional funeral service, there are a few other types of funeral ceremonies.

Graveside Service

  • A period for family and friends to give their condolences to bereaved
  • Common for food and drinks to be brought and served
  • May be a single day or a period of time (up to a week)

Direct cremation/funeral

  • Lowest cost option
  • Can include low-cost memorial service
  • Viewing will be limited in size


  • Also known as "open-casket funeral"
  • Involves the direct presence of the deceased
  • May require embalming

Faith-based Funeral

  • The faith and traditions of the deceased and their family may determine how the funeral is organized
  • Involves coordination with a house of worship
  • Will determine final disposition as well

Burial at Sea

  • Requires following state and federal regulations
  • Can involve costly transportation if deceased lived far from coast
  • Likely to be impractical

Funeral services of various religions


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