How Long Does It Take to Plan a Funeral?

Wondering how long does it take to plan a funeral? Here's what you need to know...
Nathaniel Felder
5 minutes

When someone you love dies, you may not know where to start. There are so many decisions to be made, and the process can feel overwhelming. However, taking the time to plan a meaningful and personal funeral service will be one of the most important things you can do for your loved one. And not just that - it will help you navigate the grieving process, too.

It's understandable that you want to honor them in the best way possible. For many, this means planning a unique funeral that reflects the lost life and personality.

Of course, the funeral isn't the most urgent of the things to do when someone you love dies, but it's important to start thinking about it as soon as possible. This provides time to make all the necessary decisions. As you’ll learn in this quick article, planning a funeral isn’t as quick and easy as you may initially think.

So, how long does it take to plan a funeral? It can depend on a few factors - religion, location, number of guests, and more. But in general, it can take weeks to plan a funeral. We’re going to provide tips to help you trim that timeline down - and, you’ll learn how to actually go about planning a funeral. Let’s not waste any more time.

How Long Does It Take To Plan A Funeral After Someone Dies?

Most funerals in America happen a week or less after the death. A week is usually sufficient to make preparations and get in touch with loved ones with the assistance of a funeral home. Because of decomposition, funerals have historically had to be held within a few days.

However this time can be increased up to two weeks, if the funeral director doesn’t have available appointments, or there is a wait at the place of worship. 

Factors Affecting How Long It Takes to Plan a Funeral

Now that we’ve answered the question of how long does it take to plan a funeral, we want to explain the various factors that affect this timeline. To help evaluate how long the funeral planning process will take, you should consider these elements:


If they were a person of faith, your loved one's religious beliefs will inform the funeral service. You don't have to be of the same religion as the deceased to give them a religious service, but if this is the case, it will take time to learn about the associated customs and traditions.

Other religious considerations include whether the funeral will take place in a church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious building. You will also need to plan who will conduct the service.


Where the funeral takes place also affects planning, as some locations have specific requirements or regulations. For example, if you're planning an outdoor service, you'll need to consider the weather forecast and obtain permission from the relevant authorities.

Funeral homes will usually have a chapel or other space that can be used for the service. You may need to book this in advance, especially if you're planning the funeral during a busy period.

Type of funeral

The most traditional type of funeral is a burial service, but there are also cremation services, green burials, and even home funerals.

Each type of funeral has specific conditions. For example, a green burial might require finding a natural burial ground that meets your loved one's particular requirements.

Cremation services are often quicker and easier to arrange than a traditional burial, but you will still need to decide what to do with your loved one's ashes. This could involve scattering them in a place of significance or keeping them in an urn.

Number of guests

The number of guests at a funeral can affect how long it takes to plan the service. Some locations have specific requirements or regulations about the number of people who can attend.

Larger groups might need additional facilities, such as chairs, sound equipment, and catering. It's also important to consider how guests will get to the funeral and whether they will need any special assistance, including transportation options and parking.

The Funeral Planning Timeline: What to Expect

So, how long does it take to plan a funeral? As you now know, it can take approximately a week to two to plan a funeral .

Now, you’re probably wondering why it takes so long - and what the different steps along the way are. In this section, we’ll cover the entire funeral planning timeline to help you navigate the process. These are some of the decisions involved:

Determine who is going to plan the funeral

Often, those closest to the deceased plan the funeral. However, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, it's better to involve someone with great organizational skills or more experience.

You can also speak to a professional funeral planner. This option provides a way to streamline the process.

Gather any necessary paperwork

You need to gather the necessary paperwork before you can plan a funeral. This includes the death certificate, the will, and any other documents that relate to the funeral.

If you're planning a burial service, you will also need to contact the local authorities to find out about any required restrictions or permits.

Find a funeral home (unless you're going virtual)

When choosing a funeral home, consider its cost and services. Some funeral homes focus on cremation services, while others may promote green burials.

Offering a virtual memorial service is a great way to accommodate those who can't travel or live far away. You will need to find a platform that can host the service, such as Skype or Zoom, and provide instructions on how to join the service.

It's also important to provide guidance for online attendees regarding the appropriate etiquette to ensure the service runs smoothly.

Plan the service and pick a date

While there are some traditional elements that are almost always included in a funeral service, there's also room for creativity and personalization. After all, this is a celebration of your loved one's life, and you want it to represent them perfectly.

Research the key elements of a funeral service, and decide if it will be a traditional service or more informal. If the deceased left instructions about their funeral, make sure to follow them as closely as possible.

After deciding on the service, you can start to plan the details. This involves writing a eulogy and selecting readings, music, flowers, and other elements significant to the deceased.

Choose a date that is convenient for those interested in attending. Avoid any significant holidays or religious celebrations, as these can be difficult times for people to attend.

Send invites, bring it all together

It's a good idea to send out invitations well in advance so that people have plenty of time to make arrangements to attend. Provide all the essential details, including date, time, and location.

On the day of the funeral, arrive early so you can greet guests. You should also thank everyone who attends the service.

Can You Do Anything to Accelerate the Funeral Planning Timeline?

The question of how long it takes to plan a funeral may prompt concerns about why the process needs to happen quickly. This is especially true if family obligations, budget constraints, or religious customs impact the timeline for the funeral.

Here are some options if you need to hasten the funeral planning process:

Skip some of the traditional funeral elements

Opting for a more informal service and skipping traditional funeral elements such as the eulogy, readings, or music will save a lot of planning. You could also choose an alternative venue such as a park, community center, or even your own home.

How long does it take to plan a funeral if you skip these more time-consuming elements? Well, these adjustments can reduce the time you'll spend organizing by several days if you don't need to align dates with formal venues.

Reduce the guest list for a more intimate service

A smaller and more intimate guest list can speed up the planning process because people are less likely to have scheduling conflicts, and you will be able to manage the logistics easily. It will also save time on preparing invitations and managing RSVPs.

Set a strict budget and stick to it

Once you have a budget in mind, it will be easier to make decisions about the service, which will save you time and money. It's essential to consider how to pay for the funeral and compare prices between different funeral homes, as there can be a big difference in cost.

Go Virtual

How long does it take to plan a funeral if you choose a virtual option? This option can reduce the time you spend planning a funeral from weeks to just days. That's because you can plan the whole process electronically and avoid the time constraints and costs associated with traditional funeral services and venues.

The power of technology also allows you to honor and preserve your loved one's memory beyond the funeral service.

Consider building a memorial website at Forevory. This kind of memorial helps support friends and family members through the grieving process while celebrating the life of their loved one.

A tribute website lets you share photos, videos, and memories of your loved one with everyone who cared for them. It also provides a space to give and receive messages of condolence and support through recording and hearing online memorial voice notes, signing the online memorial guest book, and watching online memorial videos.

Another beautiful element of a tribute website is that it enables future generations to gain a meaningful connection with their ancestors, learning about their lives, what they meant to others, and the impact they had on their communities.

What If I Need to Delay the Funeral as I'm Not Quite Ready?

How long does it usually take to plan a funeral if you can't immediately start planning? It's important to get the right support if you feel this way. Talk to family and friends about your decision as it's helpful if everyone understands why you need more time.

It's natural to feel anxious about the funeral because you don't feel ready to say goodbye. It's worth thinking about the ways you can remember your loved one in your daily life after the funeral is over.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Plan a Funeral? Wrapping Things Up

So how long does it take to plan a funeral? Generally, the more formal the service, the longer it will take to plan. But you also have options if you have to plan the funeral quickly or prefer to slow things down.

Remember that you can be creative in combining traditional and modern elements and that virtual options may allow you to create more inclusive and enduring memories in a short period of time.

For more information about how to create a beautiful tribute website in honor of your loved one, please visit the Forevory features page.

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