Flowers have long been one of the most popular funeral gifts as a sign of respect for the family. However, some families choose to ask for different memorial gifts in honor of the deceased relative, usually donations for funeral expenses. For decades, a request not to gift flowers has been through the phrase “in lieu of flowers.”
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Does ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Mean?
- Asking for an Additional Contribution
- Asking for Donations to Charity or Organization
- Asking for Help with Funeral Expenses
- Requesting Other Gifts In Lieu of Flowers
- Informing Guests Not to Give Anything
- In an Online Obituary or Online Memorial
- Where Can You Post or Share Your ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Message?
Initially, this phrase was used in the 1950s to politely suggest funeral guests donate a financial contribution in memory of the deceased.
With the phrase itself translating to “in place of flowers,” it’s not always as clear as it could be. It’s easy to interpret this phrase to mean guests shouldn’t send flowers, even if the family welcomes this.
With more death announcements and obituaries sharing some kind of request for funeral guests, there needs to be an easier way to communicate the family’s needs.
In these cases, this guide shares 25 different ways to word “in lieu of flowers.” It’s time to eliminate funeral gift confusion once and for all.
Tip: Are you in charge of creating a funeral fundraiser? Cake offers a free funeral fundraiser tool so friends and family can help offset funeral expenses or give to a charity in lieu of flowers.
What Does ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Mean?
If you’re not familiar with funeral planning, you might not know what it means to say ‘in lieu of flowers.’ Though commonplace, more people expect to send flowers to a funeral service. In short, “in lieu of flowers” is another way to say ‘in place of flowers.’
There are many times when a family might want to request something else instead of flowers. Sometimes they want something practical, like financial help to afford the funeral service. Other times, they want guests to donate to a special cause. There are no right or wrong answers.
While flowers are a beautiful symbol of life, they don’t hold any functional purpose. In ancient times, flowers were common at funerals because they covered the unpleasant odors of death. Thanks to modern funeral technology, this is no longer necessary. Still, flowers have long been used by humans as a way to communicate feelings that are hard to put into words.
Planning a funeral is a highly personal experience. It’s more common than ever to start your own traditions and do what feels right to you. If you’d prefer something else ‘in lieu of flowers,’ there’s no shame in asking. Learning how to clarify your wording can give you peace of mind when you need it the most.
Asking for an Additional Contribution
If you’re looking to ask for a different type of contribution in addition to flowers, this wording is often tricky. The goal here is to be clear. When thinking about how to write an obituary, include one of these phrases to ensure guests know exactly what’s asked of them.
1. “You might also consider…”
This phrasing invites guests to consider a different type of gift in addition to flowers. Most importantly, it still leaves space for the guest to choose flowers or another sympathy plant as their contribution.
2. “In addition to flowers, the family would appreciate…”
Another straightforward way to ask for more than just flowers, don’t be afraid to simply write “in addition to flowers.”
3. “Flowers are welcome, and other contributions can be sent to…”
This is an open-ended way of asking guests to send flowers, but to also send an additional contribution. Make sure it’s simple and clear how to proceed with other contributions.
4. “While flowers are welcome, the family also asks for…”
If the family specifically is in need of any additional help or memorial gift, this phrasing allows for flexibility.
5. “The family requests both flowers and…”
Finally, get right to the point by asking for what’s needed directly. There’s no need for fluff.
Asking for Donations to Charity or Organization
The most common reason to ask for something “in lieu of flowers” is to ask for a donation. These are typically made to charities in the deceased’s honor. Think about what organizations mattered to the individual or family with one of these phrases below.
6. “The family asks for any donations to go to…”
The simplest way to request donations is with these words above. This still leaves room for flowers as a gift to the funeral home, but it also makes it clear the family requests a donation.
7. “Any financial contributions may be made to the charity of your own choice…”
If there is no specific charity in mind, it’s okay to ask guests to gift to somewhere they personally support.
8. “The family wishes memorial contributions be made to…”
Similar to the phrases above, this also leaves space for gifting flowers in addition to a donation.
9. “The family welcomes donations to [charity] as an expression of sympathy instead of flowers…”
Here, the family specifically states they prefer a donation over flowers. This takes the guesswork out of it for guests.
10. “We are remembering [Name] with a contribution to [charity]…”
Show the importance of a charity contribution by encouraging donations in their honor.
11. “In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made in [Name’s] honor…”
It is sometimes appropriate to use “in lieu of flowers” as long as you’re clear how you’d like guests to proceed with their gifts. In this case, the family requests donations instead.
12. “Donations made in lieu of flowers will be used to honor [Name’s] favorite cause…”
This is the most flexible phrasing for charity gifts. It allows guests to submit their donations to the family themselves to use as the deceased wished.
Asking for Help with Funeral Expenses
“In lieu of flowers” is sometimes used to request assistance paying for funeral expenses. Not everyone starts end-of-life planning while they have time. Instead, this burden falls to the family. Since funerals cost a pretty penny, the family might require financial assistance from guests and other loved ones.
13. “The family is asking for financial support for [Name’s] funeral expenses…”
This is a straightforward, no-nonsense way to ask for financial help covering funeral expenses. Guests still might choose to send flowers, but it’s clear the financial support is the primary concern.
14. “If you would like to donate to the funeral funds, contact the family…”
Using the phrase “if you would like to” is a polite way to request money if the guest is willing and able. There is no additional pressure.
15. “The family would appreciate assistance with funeral costs in lieu of flowers…”
Here, guests recognize that no flowers are needed. Instead, the family needs assistance with funeral costs.
16. “Due to the unexpected death of [Name], the family is requesting financial assistance with the funeral instead of flowers…”
If the death was particularly unexpected, it’s not unusual to ask for financial help paying for the service and burial.
17. “To ensure the funeral pays tribute to [Name], the family is humbly requesting support for funeral expenses…”
Remind guests how their donations will go to support the funeral costs. This is a way to pay tribute to the deceased.
Requesting Other Gifts In Lieu of Flowers
Sometimes you don’t wish for flowers as gifts, but you’re not asking for a donation. You might have a special request in memory of the deceased that doesn’t fit in the traditional obituary template. For ideas and inspiration on this phrasing, look below.
18. “The family welcomes guests to bring candles to the funeral in lieu of flowers…”
Candles are a common symbol of memorials and funerals. You can even get them customized online, like these personalized scented soy candles. They’re more affordable than flowers, yet they create a similar impact.
19. “In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to join for a potluck meal. Please bring a dish…”
Instead of money or gifts, why not join together for a family meal? Asking everyone to bring a dish instead of flowers is a special way to pay homage to the deceased.
20. “Because [Name] enjoyed [movie, location, etc.], the family asks for everyone to [partake in the activity] in lieu of flowers…”
Share something unique about the one who passed away. Maybe he loved movies, and his favorite film is playing in the park that month. Inviting everyone to join is a kind gesture.
21. “Instead of gifting flowers, the family is asking for assistance in setting up and cleaning the funeral service.”
The gift of service means a lot to the family in times of need. Inviting others to offer a lending hand is a gift in itself.
Informing Guests Not to Gift Anything
There are some occasions when it’s not appropriate to gift anything at a funeral. In some religions and customs, gift-giving is not welcome. Additionally, the family might keep the service simple. Here is what to include in the death announcement.
22. “No gifts or flowers are required for [Name’s] service…”
Keep it simple by letting guests know there’s no need for gifts.
23. “Instead of flowers, [Name] would want you to express your love to those you value…”
Sometimes the greatest tribute is an expression of love. Funerals are a time to be grateful for the time we have.
24. “The family is not asking for flowers or gifts, only your presence at the funeral…”
If no gift or flowers are needed, simply invite guests to show support by being there.
25. “In lieu of flowers, please keep the family in your thoughts…”
Finally, remind guests to keep the grieving family in their thoughts during this difficult time.
In an Online Obituary or Online Memorial
Though you’re likely most familiar with obituaries in print, it’s becoming more common to post them online. Today’s online memorial tools come with a lot of beneficial features, including the ability to request specific gifts ‘in lieu of flowers.’ Here’s how to make a specific request “in lieu of flowers” on an online memorial.
26. “In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate it if you could share a special memory on the digital guestbook.”
One of the best parts of an online memorial is being able to collaborate with loved ones. Encouraging others to share a special image or memory on the digital page is one idea in lieu of flowers.
27. “As an expression of sympathy, please share a donation using the link on this page.”
If your online memorial has a special donation link, this is an appropriate way to point it out.
28. “Should you desire, please make a contribution using the donation link.”
Even if the donation is optional, many obituary readers are looking for a way to get involved and offer support.
29. “Memorial contributions can be made to any charity of your choice. See our recommendations on the virtual memorial.”
In instances where you don’t have a specific memorial in mind, it’s okay to share several recommendations or let your supporters make their own decision.
30. “In lieu of flowers, please share this memorial page to your own social media page.
Another idea is to encourage your online obituary readers to share the obituary on their own. This is an easy alternative to flowers that costs nothing, but it still raises support.
Where Can You Post or Share Your ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Message?
Now that you know what to post, where should you share your message? There are a lot of different places to post or share an ‘in lieu of flowers’ message. It’s important to make sure people know how to best help your family in your time of need.
First, if you send funeral invitations, this is the most appropriate place to share an ‘in lieu of flowers’ message. While funeral invitations are optional, many families choose to mail, email, or text invitations to quickly spread the word about an upcoming funeral service. With your invitation, you should inform guests if there’s something else you’d prefer ‘in lieu of flowers.’
Funeral thank you notes
Similarly, you can also share your ‘in lieu of flowers’ message on your funeral thank you notes. Though optional, this is a common way to thank people for attending a funeral or memorial service. It’s appropriate to ask for assistance, support, or donations in this message.
Next, it’s common for families to honor loved ones by publishing an obituary in newspapers. Though you have limited space in a published obituary, it’s traditional to share information about the funeral service for the community. Along with the notice about an upcoming service, let guests know whether you wish for flowers or something else.
Online memorial site
Another place you can share your ‘in lieu of flowers’ message after a loss is on an online memorial website. These online platforms are becoming increasingly commonplace, and they’re the new normal. When you upload an online memorial, many allow you to include a link to a donation fund or memorial fund.
Lastly, it’s becoming very normal to share personal things on social media. This includes news of losses. Many choose to share obituaries as a way to honor their deceased loved one, and it’s also a place to receive support. As such, you can also share your request for donations in lieu of flowers.
Find Support Beyond Flowers
While flowers remain to be a common way to express sympathy to families who have experienced a loss, there are a variety of ways for guests to show support. Families today have a lot of freedom when it comes to asking their guests for the help they need, whether they require financial assistance or a special tribute.
The phrase “in lieu of flowers” indicates that flowers might not be the best choice as a gift. However, it’s still not very clear whether flowers are welcome by the family or not. Using an alternative phrase is the best way to communicate clearly after a loss.
Funerals are a time for grieving. There should be no confusion about what’s needed and how to honor the family. Refer to these phrases above when writing an obituary, funeral invite, or death announcement. There are no limits when it comes to heartfelt support and concern.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the gifts and donations 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.
- “History of the Society of American Florists (SAF).” Society of American Florists. 2021. SAFNOW.com