9 Ways Funerals are Becoming More Like Weddings

Funeral Industry News October 6, 2020
Wedding Couple With Sparklers

9 Ways Funerals are Becoming More Like Weddings

After eight months of hardcore planning and preparation, my son’s wedding is finally behind me. If you’ve ever been through this yourself or with one of your children, you know how thoroughly soul-sucking and expensive the process can be. Much like funerals, which are also emotionally and financially draining. But those aren’t the only similarities.

Until recently, the products and services offered by the funeral and wedding industries have remained fairly unique and separated. These nine examples prove that’s no longer the case.

Gift registries

Once reserved for china patterns, gift registries are a boon for anyone buying a wedding gift for someone you really don’t know. Today couples can create a list of all kinds of things they want you to buy for them; you can even send cash to go toward their lavish St. Lucia honeymoon. Perhaps it was inevitable that someone would create a gift registry for funerals. GiveInKind.com lets families create registries for not only grief and loss, but also births, medical issues, and general help. Gifts for grieving families include gift cards, grief books, and self-care boxes. It’s a really great idea, because just as no newlywed needs four Instant Pots, no grieving family truly needs a roomful of plants and throw blankets.

Dreamy destinations

Speaking of St. Lucia … There is now such a thing as a destination funeral. In 2018, Travel + Leisure estimated that half of American funeral directors have been asked to arrange one. Basically, a destination funeral consists of making pre-arrangements to be buried or have your cremains scattered in a foreign location. One option would be a $300,000-per-plot San Michele island cemetery in Venice where Ezra Pound and Igor Stravinsky now rest. Another would be having your cremains scattered in the Mediterranean by the captain of a private chartered yacht. One can always dream!

Event planners

Remember Martin Short’s hilarious character Franck the Wedding Planner in the movie “Father of the Bride?” Most wedding planners aren’t so eccentric, but they do play a key role in making sure entire wedding weekends go off without a hitch. Who wouldn’t want that for their funeral? At least one company now offers funeral planning services to help you arrange anything “from an intimate family reception to a 500-person celebration with a 12-piece live event band.” New Narrative Memorials is a firm offering “event management and consulting tailored for the modern memorial.” Christina Andreola says she founded New Narrative Memorials in 2017 after she planned her uncle’s funeral “event” for 250 people.

Can koozie favors

Face it: If you throw a wedding reception without a personalized can koozie to commemorate the event, you’ve failed as a bride and groom. Here in the South, at least, can koozies are as ubiquitous as the Coors Light cans they keep comfortably cool. They are an excellent complement to the also-required wedding reception open bar. Actually, an open bar wouldn’t be a terrible idea at all for funerals. What better way to honor a loved one than turning up a can of Budweiser in their name? If you go that route, be sure to check out these memorial can koozies on Etsy.

Shot glasses as gifts

Prefer a shot of Cuervo over a can of PBR when you want to remember your late family member? Worry no more, because now you can knock ‘em back with memorial shot glasses. Always a best bet for the groomsmen at a wedding, these personalized glasses on Etsy are sure to be a hit with your pallbearers.

Pinterest boards

Pinterest is a mecca for brides-to-be (and girls who hope to one day become brides-to-be). The site lets you “pin” images and links to virtual bulletin boards you create for different topics like “Reception Ideas” and “Honeymoon.” But as more younger people are coming face-to-face with mortality, it makes sense that they use the tools to which they’re accustomed to plan their own funerals. Search Pinterest for “funeral” and you’ll find a seemingly-endless scroll of boards users have created. “My Funeral,” “Funeral Ideas,” and “Chic Funerals” are just a few you’ll find.

Sparklers

I’m not sure when it became a tradition to hand fireworks to a bunch of tipsy people to hold over an newlywed couple in flammable clothing, but apparently it’s a thing. And apparently it’s also a thing for memorial services. A company on Etsy sells custom tags to slide over sparklers specifically at funerals. They don’t recommend when these should be lit during the service, but I can’t get the image out of my head of a casket being pushed by pall bearers through a tunnel created of flame-bearing mourners…

Fashion matters

You may have noticed that black is no longer de rigueur for funerals. However, it’s still a go-to for funeral fashionistas, who plan their mourning outfits like they plan their wedding guest get-up. In their blog post “Funeral Outfits for Women,” OutfitTrends.com recommends their top 20 looks for funerals, including a “black wide-brimmed hat with oversized sunglasses” accessorized with “simple studs or drop earrings.” The above selection (#6 “Non-Traditional Funeral Service Look”) is a “a little edgy,” with an “unconventional but not immodest” leather jacket and shoes that “are a pop of color that is limited enough to make it acceptable.”

Innovative guest books

Among the first-time exhibitors at last year’s NFDA convention expo was Memorial Signature Frame. The folks at the Memorial booth explained that their product started out as a unique guestbook feature at weddings, but has become just as popular at funerals. Instead of signing a traditional book, guests use a diamond-engraving pen to sign a wide metallic frame surrounding a photo of the deceased.

What’s next?

While there have always been subtle similarities among funerals and weddings (families gathering together, lots of food and flowers, designated attendants, religious ritual, and the like), these trends seem to be closing the gap between the festive celebration of marriage and the somber observation of death.

Who knows where this will end? Will bakers be asked to make four-tier funeral cakes? Will professional photographers get involved? How about engraved invitations and RSVPs indicating a preference of steak or chicken at the funeral rehearsal dinner? I’m sure tux rentals would fit in there somewhere. Or maybe the less formal farmhouse funeral trend will take over, with a rustic barn as the backdrop for a casket sitting on a bier of hay bales. Just throwing out ideas here, but if any of these take off, I’m totally taking credit.