Most funerals are held on weekdays. The biggest factor a family may not choose a Saturday or Sunday funeral is that there is much more limited availability. This drives up costs for weekend funerals.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Are Funerals Ever Held on the Weekend?
- When It’s OK to Have a Weekend Funeral
- When It Might Not Be OK to Have a Weekend Funeral
Usually, funerals that culminate in a burial happen a few days to a week after the person has died. Funeral etiquette varies by location and culture. This window tends to be broad enough that weekends aren’t the only option for holding the proceedings.
Here are some factors to consider when a Saturday or Sunday funeral seems like the best option available.
COVID-19 tip: If you're planning or attending a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, the order of service, etiquette, and timing will vary. Consult with the funeral director, event planner, or religious leader to see what changes will be made to the ceremony, wake, and reception.
Are Funerals Ever Held on the Weekend?
Funerals are indeed held on weekends, but it is pretty rare for a few important reasons. Ministers that officiate funerals are usually busy on weekends. This is especially true on Sundays, when they are with their own parishes or other houses of worship. Cemeteries are often only open on weekdays. This requires someone to work overtime on an unusual shift in order to accommodate a burial on a Saturday or Sunday.
However, some circumstances require a funeral to be held on the weekend.
When family can only arrive on a weekend
Family members often fly in or drive from far away. In this case, a family may choose to hold a funeral on the weekend so that the maximum number of family members will be able to attend.
The family may pay more and may have to work with a more limited list of funeral homes and cemeteries willing to accommodate a weekend funeral.
When cremation is planned
The challenges of a weekend burial are mediated when cremation is planned. A funeral service may be arranged on a Saturday or Sunday if it will not be followed by a journey to a burial site.
Some funeral homes or mortuaries can accommodate a simple service on the weekends and proceed with the cremation on their own working schedule.
When a minister and cemetery make an exception
Even in a typical funeral situation, ministers, funeral directors, and cemetery staff may agree to an exception to their work schedule. This could occur by special arrangement for an additional fee that incentivizes the exception. It can also be a choice made because of close community ties.
Your minister, funeral director, or cemetery staff may say that a weekend funeral is not a possibility. You can be willing to pay a premium or request recommendations for anyone in the area who would be willing to perform the rite on a weekend.
When it’s OK to Have a Weekend Funeral
Here are some reasons why you might opt to have a funeral on a Saturday or Sunday, despite the inconveniences:
- Close family members cannot get off work. Some family members may have demanding jobs that cannot give them time off until the weekend. Getting as many family members at the funeral as possible is helpful for everyone’s grief journey and their experiences of closure.
- A wake will be held on a weekday. If there is a way to hold the wake on a weekday so that more people will be able to participate and offer their condolences to the family, there may be more leeway for a weekend funeral.
- Close family members cannot get a flight/drive in before the weekend. When families live far away, getting to the site of the funeral on a weekday may simply not be possible, and waiting till Monday may also be prohibitive. A good time to look into weekend funerals is when the family must travel and won’t arrive until the afternoon or evening on Friday.
- Your funeral home/mortuary offers weekend funerals for cremations. If your loved one’s wish was to be cremated, the mortuary or funeral home you are working with should be able to talk to you about the possibility of the funeral being held on a weekend. There are fewer groups that need to be available in the case of a cremation, so you might be able to have a simple service then.
- The funeral is prepaid or money isn’t an object. When working on end-of-life planning, your loved one may have purchased a funeral package that included a stipulation that a weekend funeral would be an option. You also may find that if your family can afford to pay extra, having a weekend funeral that works best for everyone may be easier once you’ve offered to pay a surcharge.
- Your minister has already said this would be fine. Your minister may have mentioned availability on the weekends for this particular funeral. In cases like close family friendships, you may be able to hold the funeral on a Saturday or Sunday even without an additional charge. Close family friends make it more likely that they’ll make time on a weekend, though you may have to schedule around any spiritual gatherings at which they must officiate.
When it Might Not Be OK to Have a Weekend Funeral
There’s some gray area here — after all, your family may hold a wake, a funeral, a burial, or some combination of the three. These are examples that might mean you should focus on finding a weekday for the funeral.
- The weekend funeral privileges one or two family members over many others. If some family members can only come on a weekday and other family members can only come on a weekend, choosing to have the funeral on an unusual day may seem preferential toward certain family members. This is especially true if the weekend actually helps fewer or more distant relatives rather than those who are more numerous or closer to the loved one who passed away.
- Money is tight and a weekday funeral is available. If the charges will be substantial, having a weekday funeral is more prudent in the case of a very small estate. Loved ones don’t need an additional expense to be a burden during the estate’s probate process.
- The cemetery of choice cannot accommodate weekend burial. Many people plan to be buried in a particular cemetery, and many of them simply don’t offer weekend burials. Rather than making a change to a different cemetery and disrespecting the deceased’s wishes, opt to have a weekday funeral and burial.
Balance the Concerns for Having a Weekend Funeral
Funerals on Saturday or Sunday are unusual in many places. Your funeral director can help you work through the benefits and drawbacks of making this choice while you’re grieving. A funeral director can also be a source of helpful resources about obituary writing or other needs you have during this difficult time.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the funeral to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.