What decorations to have at a funeral

Updated February 21, 2017

Funeral rituals and traditions can vary from culture to culture but most modern funerals in developed countries involve a viewing or wake and a religious ceremony. Decorations for the viewing room, church or temple should reflect the deceased person's life and lifestyle and help family and friends celebrate and reminisce about the person. When you use flowers, photographs, mementos and ethnic elements to decorate a funeral space, you allow those who grieve to connect one last time with the departed.


Floral decorations are a tradition at most Christian funerals. Family and friends usually send flowers in honour of the deceased. Funeral planners may ask you what kind of flowers were the favourite of the deceased and encourage you to use those favourites in decorations for the casket and in floral arrangements. Any kind of flower received can be used to decorate the chapel or viewing room but some flowers do have special meanings. Lilies are related to the innocence of the soul, pink carnations stand for remembrance and red roses represent love and respect. Place the flowers around the casket, on the altar or around a funeral parlour on tables or podiums.


Photograph displays or digital slideshows at a funeral help celebrate the deceased's full life. Whether photos are posted on boards and held on easels around the viewing parlour or framed individually and placed on tables in a chapel, family and friends appreciate reviewing moments from the loved one's life. Photos also serve to provide conversation starters that can help the grieving cope. One large portrait photograph placed near the casket is also appropriate.


Sharing special collectibles, awards, military medals and other mementos that relate to the deceased at the funeral is a meaningful way to decorate the funeral home or chapel. When you place a favourite item of clothing, work tools, handmade crafts or even recipes on a table in a funeral room, you bring a concrete way for visitors to connect again with the deceased. Guests can be included in the decorating by bringing items that they feel represent the departed.

Ethnic Enhancements

Cultural differences and views of death can determine different types of appropriate decor for the funeral room. For example, a gong may be placed at the entranceway of the funeral parlour at a Chinese funeral while Hmong families may include faux gold money boats and bamboo instruments called "qeej" in their funeral decorations to tie in traditional burial rituals.

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