How to Arrange a DIY Funeral: 15 Money-Saving Tips


After the death of a loved one, it’s normal to contact a trusted funeral home to handle the arrangements on your behalf. If you’re unsure how to plan a funeral for someone else, a funeral home can help you plan each step quickly and easily. 

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That being said, there might be a time when you would rather arrange a DIY funeral. What does this mean? It’s when you make all of the plans and arrangements yourself rather than going through a traditional funeral home. Not only is this one of the best low-cost funeral ideas, but it gives you more flexibility during planning.

But before you decide to arrange a DIY funeral, there are a lot of things to understand. Luckily, there are many money-saving tips to make this process easier on your wallet and mind. 

Can You Have a DIY Funeral? 

In short, the answer is yes: you can have a DIY Funeral. That being said, you’ll still likely need the help of a funeral home for some parts of funeral planning, like arranging a burial or cremation. As for the planning and officiating of the funeral service, you can certainly do this all on your own. 

What’s the advantage of planning a DIY funeral vs. a traditional funeral with a funeral home? The biggest reason is cost. A traditional funeral can cost thousands of dollars. While it’s true that a funeral home can do the planning on your behalf, alleviating your burden during a time of grief, this isn’t always in every family’s budget. 

If you’d prefer a funeral that’s more cost-effective, or if you’d like full freedom over different elements, a DIY funeral might be the perfect fit. Better yet, if you or someone in your family has professional event planning experience, arranging a funeral for a loved one could be easy to do on your own. 

When do you need a funeral home?

Again, it’s likely that you’ll need to contact a funeral home for at least a few steps of this process. In many states, it’s not legal to bury a loved one on private or public land. You’ll need to go through a cemetery. In addition, you might need a funeral home’s help with transporting and preserving the body. 

That being said, you can handle all of the planning and even the burial arrangements on your own. You can purchase an urn, casket, and other products online or in person, even if you’re not working with a funeral home for the overall planning. 

DIY Funeral Decoration and Flower Tips

Whether you’re holding a large funeral or an intimate one, the right decorations and flowers set the tone for the service. Not only do these evoke memories of the deceased, but they’re a comfort when families are grieving. Here are the best DIY funeral decoration and flower tips depending on your budget or situation. 

1. Choose local flowers

It doesn’t have to be hard to source affordable funeral flowers. The best option is to choose a selection from your local florist. These are usually lower-cost than national brands, and you don’t have to worry about shipping costs. 

Another way to keep costs low is to transport and set up the flowers yourself. Many florists offer local transportation and delivery, but this is an extra fee. Instead, bring the flowers yourself and arrange them in a way that makes sense to you.

Remember, you don’t have to opt for the most complicated, expensive flower arrangement. Simpler, smaller flowers can be just as beautiful and meaningful. 

2. Share family photos

An inexpensive yet powerful memorial idea is to use family photos as decorations. You can enlarge these photos, create a scrapbook, or even frame one to keep in the entryway for the funeral. Family photos, especially photos of the deceased, help keep the event focused. 

Family photos also make a great DIY funeral favor. You’d be surprised how few people have printed photos anymore, so this is a touching tribute each guest can keep in their homes. 

3. Light a lot of candles

Another inexpensive funeral decoration tip is to include a lot of candles. In many cultures, candles are a way to honor and remember the dead. Though they might be gone, their spirit is still with us like the flame of a candle. 

Not only are simple candles affordable, but they look elegant, too. Perfect for decorating your funeral venue, these are an excellent choice for any funeral plan. 

4. Create a DIY playlist

There are so many funeral songs to choose from, which is usually handled by the funeral home. However, you can create any playlist that’s meaningful to you to play at the service. This can include traditional songs, religious hymns, or even the deceased person’s favorite pop soundtracks. 

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5. Encourage guests to sign memory cards

Bring your guests into the action by creating memory cards. This is an affordable DIY that also incorporates remembrance. Set up some simple cardstock or flashcards with a few pens. Encourage guests to share their favorite memory of the deceased as they enter the funeral service. 

After the memorial, you can arrange the cards into a frame, album, or book. This is perfect for the family to take home, reminding them of all of the times they’ve had before with their loved one.

6. Arrange a memory table

Similarly, you can also create a memory table. This is a specific table that has photos, mementos, and other reminders of the deceased. It can include anything that makes sense to you. 

You don’t have to decorate the memory table yourself. Invite guests to bring their own mementos of the deceased, whether they bring postcards, photos or other trinkets. Arrange the table to showcase these unique finds. 

7. Host the event in a park or garden

Another alternative is to hold the funeral or memorial in a park or garden. The natural beauty does the decorating for you, reminding you that life and brilliance are around every corner. This is especially meaningful if you hold it in a park or garden that the deceased loved. 

8. Use balloons to add color

You can add color to any event space with balloons. Though these are usually used for birthday parties and celebrations, there’s no reason you can’t also use them for funerals as well. Choose some in your loved one’s favorite color and add life to the space of your choice. 

9. Include live music

If possible, live music also helps your DIY funeral come to life. Ask your guest list to see if anyone has any musical talents they’d like to share.

 A song in honor of the deceased is sure to be moving. Otherwise, you can also hire a local band or musician to play your loved one’s favorite songs. 

10. Choose a theme

Finally, you can choose a theme for the funeral. A theme is a great way to honor someone’s life, and there are no limits to what you can choose. 

Whether you honor their love for football, their creative side, or their outspoken nature, a theme is a way to reflect on a life well-lived. This gives you the freedom to decorate beyond what’s normally seen at a funeral, and it lifts everyone’s spirits.

» MORE: Are you preparing for the loss of a loved one? Get support now.

Other DIY Funeral Tips

Aside from the ideas above, you can also get creative with these tips below. It’s always the thought that counts when it comes to holding a DIY funeral in honor of someone you love. 

11. Host a small service

A private funeral service is one that’s only open to close family and friends. Not only is this more affordable, but it’s significantly easier to plan if you’re doing so on your own. Instead of coordinating large numbers of guests, you have only a few people to worry about. 

12. Ask for donation in lieu of flowers

If you’re worried about the cost of the funeral, it’s okay to ask for donations to help cover the expenses. You can ask for donations in lieu of flowers or other gifts. This is perfectly acceptable, and many are happy to help when it matters the most. 

13. Invite guests to speak with an open mic

An open mic during the funeral service gives the guests a chance to take the lead. Instead of taking over the service yourself, offering time for guests to speak openly and share stories is often more meaningful and personal. This means you have more bandwidth to dedicate to other parts of the DIY funeral planning. 

14. Ask guests to bring food for a potluck

A potluck is when guests at an event each bring a dish. This is perfect for a low-cost, DIY funeral service. Most families join together after the service for a repast, and a potluck ensures no one person has to organize food for everyone. 

15. Start funeral planning early

The easiest way to organize a DIY funeral is when the planning has been done in advance. After the death of a loved one, emotions are high. It’s not always easy to know what your loved one wanted or how to make arrangements. 

On the other hand, if you had these difficult conversations and started funeral planning, the weight is lifted. To start your own, you can create a free funeral planning profile with Cake. Then, share with those you trust. 

Planning a DIY Funeral Service

Many people believe you have to go through a funeral home to organize and arrange a funeral. In reality, this isn’t true at all. While a funeral home can be an outstanding resource, you’re always free to take matters into your own hands. 

Use the tips above to make your DIY funeral planning a breeze. From creative decorations to low-cost venues, there are so many ways to simplify this process. Remember, funerals are for the living. So as long as you’re honoring your loved one’s memory and coming together with those you trust, you’re on the right track. 

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