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Frequently Asked Questions - Funerals & Memorial Services

What is the difference between a Celebrant Service and a Religious Service?

A Religious service is bound by the laws of the Church and spiritual beliefs of their faith. 

Like a Civil Celebrant they also have guidelines in running any service but Religious services 

also have specific rituals that are required.

If your loved one followed their faith throughout life, it is appropriate to use a religious service

 as a tribute to their faith. Religious services can also be officiated in their Church.

A Civil Celebrant may conduct a service in some secular churches/chapels but can also conduct 

your ceremony almost anywhere else.

A Civil Celebrant is authorised by the Attorney General’s Office of Australia and is qualified 

to officiate as a secular officiant. They do have flexibility in administering a personal 

customised services with or without referral to religious or spiritual beliefs.

A Civil Celebrant can therefore conduct your Funeral/Memorial service and Committal 

without the religious requirements of a mass or a church service.

Many more Australian families are choosing a Civil Celebrant for Funeral and Memorial 

ceremonies for a more flexible approach.


FAQ - Funerals

What needs to be done after death?

A Doctor needs to be called so a death certificate stating cause of death can be issued. 

If the Doctor cannot determine the cause of death, they will notify the police who will 

organise a coronial investigation. Sometimes if this occurs in the middle of the

 night, the Dr may not attend until the morning.

This is an emotional time for all, you have time to make decisions. After a death you 

should go home and rest, there is nothing you can do until after the Dr. has issued the

 death certificate and your loved one has been transported to a Funeral home/facility. 

Funeral arrangements cannot be commenced until the Dr. has signed and issued the certificate.

Once the cause of death is certified either the family, Doctor or Nursing Staff at a 

hospital or Nursing Home can contact a funeral director chosen by the next of kin. 

The funeral director will arrange to move the deceased with utmost respect to a 

funeral home or holding facility until you decide which funeral home you prefer.


FAQ - Funerals

Coffin or Casket? What’s the difference?

You will have an opportunity to discuss this with your funeral director, 

these vary in cost greatly. Basically, a Coffin is closed and a Casket is 

lined with inside padding and finish, suitable for a viewing. Open Casket.


FAQ - Funerals

How soon after death should you have a ceremony?

Funerals are usually scheduled within 7 -10  days generally depending on 

your Funeral Director. However, if your loved one is being cremated straight away, 

you may hold a Memorial Service where the body is not present. 

This provides the family with a little more time to prepare a DVD presentation  

and organise family tributes but this is up to you. (Funeral Directors offer very 

efficient services for a DVD visual presentation  - 60 photos only)

There is no restriction on time before you hold a Memorial Service if cremation 

has already taken place. Photos, the cremation Urn and Mementos can all be placed 

to represent your loved one at both Funerals an Memorial Services. 

Most families take 2 weeks to a month before a Memorial service, but there’s no rules. 


FAQ - Funerals

Do you have to use the Celebrant recommended by your Funeral Director?

No. You can choose your own Civil Celebrant if you prefer.  Funeral directors do have people on hand. 


FAQ - Funerals

Can you choose your own Celebrant?

Celebrants are often referred by the funeral director on your behalf but you can choose 

your own Celebrant who will work with your 

funeral director and you to achieve a personal service.


FAQ - Funerals

What do I do as your Celebrant?

I visit you at your home and help you organise an Order of Service which suits your requirements. 

This helps organise a flow of the outline of the service on the day.

I support you from the first meeting contributing my experience and skills until the

 end of the service as well as the Committal either at the Venue or the Grave side.

I liaise with you and your chosen funeral director before and on the day to ensure 

your wishes are carried out.

I write and prepare the Eulogy (Their Story) together with you and close family members

 to truly reflect the life of your loved one.

I guide you gently through the day and during the service which is a

 difficult and emotional time.


FAQ - Funerals

Is there a format for a Funeral/Memorial Service you should use?

There is a format I use from experience but this is a guide and together with you 

and your family we can change this around to suit your wishes. 


FAQ - Funerals

What can you include in a Funeral/Memorial Service?

  • Favourite songs (3)
  • Readings
  • Slide Show (60 photos) Music background
  • Tributes (3-5)
  • Large Stand-alone Photos
  • Mementos
  • A Singer
  • Live Music
  • A Poet

FAQ - Funerals

Where can you have the service?

You can hold a service almost anywhere.  However, if the Coffin/Casket is present, 

it is preferred you have the service at the Funeral Home Chapel,

 the Cemetery Chapel or Church as there is logistical considerations. 

You must check this with your Funeral Director.

Memorial services can be anywhere as there is no Coffin/Casket present.


FAQ - Funerals

Can you have a service at a Nursing Home / Residential Village?

You will have to check with the Nursing Home but it has been my experience that a 

Memorial Service can be held in a community area at a Nursing Home at 

an agreed time, often on a Sunday. 

There is usually a large TV which offers a resource for a DVD slide show.

Your loved one may have spent some time here before they passed. 

This way both family members and residents and even nursing staff can attend. 

 There is always a kitchen near the community room but often family

 must provide their own food and beverage following the service. 

I have had very young great/grandchildren dance to the final 

song as a tribute to their grandmother.  


FAQ - Funerals

How long should the ceremony last?

The actual ceremony usually lasts approx. 30 minutes depending on the number of 

tributes who speak or read for approx. 5 minutes each. 

Always allow 1 hour for overlaps. This is usually followed by food and beverage in 

another area close by which runs for approximately 1 hr.  This can be longer at your 

own venue or club for a Memorial service but be aware that this is an emotional 

time for all and the whole experience should not be too long.

If you are booking a Chapel at a Cemetery it is often wise to book a 

double block of time, if you are expecting over 50 guests. 

The Chapel time blocks are 40 minutes from opening of the doors 

and there is often another funeral booked, close behind yours. 

Note that most Cemetery Chapels do not require Pall Bearers as the 

Coffin/Casket is lowered into the floor during the last song and transported by 

Cemetery staff to the Grave Plot or Crematorium from the rear of the Chapel.


FAQ - Funerals

Do you need a coffin if your loved one is being cremated?

If you are a having a funeral service you will always need a coffin/casket but these 

vary in price from $400 - $3000 but all look beautiful.

You can arrange through your funeral director for your loved one to be cremated promptly

 after death. In which case with permission, the funeral director can provide appropriate 

shrouding or a pine box for transport at a lesser cost. 

Often a Memorial service is conducted later with Photo and Memento representations

 of your loved one at another time which suits you.


FAQ - Funerals

Is it possible to have a ceremony for someone who died years ago?

A Memorial service is always possible at any time. You may like to link it to the anniversary

 of their death or even their birthday. Anything is possible. 

A Memorial service is a tribute to a person’s life and can be a 

celebratory occasion as time passes.


FAQ - Funerals

Scattering of Ashes - Do you need a Celebrant?

You do not necessarily need a Celebrant; you can choose a leader in your family 

to say a few words before the scattering of Ashes. 

However, sometimes this can be a lot for a family member and you may wish 

to have an experienced Celebrant to guide the order of the service.


I suggest you ‘Google’ the different ways of dispersing ashes as 

there are many options.

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