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people at a funeral

07
Jun

2019

Attending a funeral can be stressful and its formality often pushes people outside their comfort zone. You might be unsure as to what the expected funeral etiquette regarding clothing attire is; here is some advice on what to wear at a funeral.

Where and when is the funeral being held?

When deciding what to wear, consider the location of the funeral and time of year. If the deceased has opted for a natural burial, the dress standards differ completely from a traditional funeral. 

Natural burials take place outside and it will be necessary to dress according to the weather conditions. Although still smart, the dress code is more casual; with ladies ditching high heels for more appropriate footwear and men not being expected to dress up in their best suit. 

Is the funeral service in a church?

If the funeral is being held within a church, a more traditional dress might be more appropriate.

Traditional Funeral - Men    

Most men have at least one dark suit on hand for occasions such as a funeral. A black suit is preferable, but a navy suit or a charcoal grey suit would also be considered acceptable. The dark suit should be accompanied by black shoes and a conservative tie, although a solid black tie is appropriate for an immediate family member.

If you are an appointed pallbearer you might not have a choice regarding what to wear. Pallbearer’s carry the coffin into the funeral service and due to them being on public display, the family may specify what kind of suit they would like you to wear so all the pallbearers are dressed the same.

Traditional Funeral - Women

A dark smart suit or black dress would be appropriate attire for a traditional funeral. Clothing does not have to be black, but dark colours like navy or grey are suitable. A funeral isn’t the place to stand out, so selecting conservative clothing is recommended. Hats can be worn, but they are not essential and any headwear should be simple.

What should children wear to a funeral?

For younger children, they should be smartly dressed, but it is not necessary to wear dark or black clothing.

For older children and teenagers, the funeral dress code for adults would be applicable. Therefore, for boys black trousers with a shirt and tie would be appropriate and for girls a dark dress.  

Is it a themed funeral?

Times have changed and more and more families are now planning celebrations of life instead of a traditional funeral service. Some people want a more personalised service. Rather than wearing black more families are asking guests to wear a specific colour. This could mean wearing a football shirt from the deceased person’s favourite football team, wearing a certain colour the person loved or dressing up for a party rather than anything more sombre.

Do other religions have different funeral traditions?

It is also important to understand that different cultures may have other customs regarding the appropriate attire to wear at a funeral.

Jewish Funeral 

A Jewish funeral service usually takes place in a Synagogue. Men are required to wear a head covering known as a kippah or yarmulke. If you do not own one, one will be provided for you as you enter the sanctuary. Gentlemen are encouraged to wear dark suits and ties. Married women are asked to wear headscarves at an Orthodox service.

Muslim Funeral

The funeral service will take place in a Mosque. You will be required to remove your shoes and deposit them in an appropriate location. Suits are always dark.  Most Muslim men will not be wearing neckties, but you can wear a tie if you want. Women must wear scarves on their heads.

Hindu Funeral 

During a Hindu funeral, mourners traditionally wear white. If you are attending the religious ceremony at the deceased's home before the deceased is taken to the crematorium, you will be required to remove your shoes before entering the home. At the crematorium, however, in the UK, shoes are not usually removed.

Buddhist Funeral

For a Buddhist funeral, you should wear conservative attire. White is the traditional mourning colour and wearing red is to be avoided as this colour signifies joy and happiness. It is mandatory that you remove your shoes at a Buddhist funeral.

If in doubt, ask.

Many families will request mourners to attend in certain dress code. The dress code can be announced when you create an online obituary, place a death notice in the local newspaper, or mentioned when inviting people to the funeral. If no dress code is given, most people will assume the dress code is smart black attire.

When deciding what to wear, your main goal should be to show respect to the family of the deceased by wearing something appropriate. You should never show up at a funeral wearing jeans, trainers, bright colours or big jewellery. If you are ever in doubt regarding what to wear, do ask those who are responsible for organising the funeral.

If you are planning your funeral in advance, you can leave dress code instructions within your funeral plan. Funeral Planning Experts can help you find a local Funeral Director.

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