There are two important venues involved with most funerals: The venue for the service and the venue for the wake.
For burials, the service is generally held at a place of worship before the body is taken for burial. For cremations, the service is often held in a chapel alongside the crematorium, although it is not uncommon to have a service at a local place of worship before going to the crematorium.
It may be that choosing a venue for the service is one of the more straightforward decisions you will have to make in planning a funeral, as most funeral services take place in a church or crematorium close to where the deceased has lived. Your local funeral director can generally make these arrangements on your behalf and will be able to offer advice on nearby locations and their availability.
There are, however, no rules against holding your funeral service in a less traditional venue, providing whoever runs it is willing to have a coffin in their premises.
One of the simplest ways around the permissions issue is actually to have the service in your own home, before the body is taken for cremation or burial. But if you're looking for something a little more unique, there are many options available, from theatres to sports stadiums. Funeral firm Poetic Endings organises funerals in London in locations from historic buildings to museums.
A social gathering after the funeral service is an important opportunity for friends and family of the deceased to comfort each other, sharing memories and offering support. The location for this gathering - the wake - is important, as it should be easy to get to following the funeral service.
The venue for the wake can be a place that held a special meaning to the deceased, a local pub, restaurant or social club. Equally it could simply be a convenient and welcoming environment for loved ones to gather.
An important part of choosing the venue for a wake will be the catering. Families on a budget may wish to choose a venue that will allow them to take care of the catering themselves, bringing in their own sandwiches and sausage rolls. Other venues will offer to handle the catering with range of options based on a per-person charge. Again, local funeral directors are well placed to offer advice on venues that are used to hosting funeral parties and the rates they charge.
It can help people come together at a funeral if the venue is decorated to commemorate the deceased. In 'How to do a funeral', writer Emma Freud says decoration gives mourners something to talk about, "anything to stop it being the worst, quietest and saddest party of all time."
This could involve a favourite colour scheme, running a computer slideshow of old photographs or even just having photo albums placed around the room. You may also want the facilities to play background music, or even to host dancing if you are planning a celebration of life. Whatever your plans to personalise proceedings, it is important to make sure the venue can accommodate your wishes.
Location, location, location
In considering venues for either service or wake, remember to try to make it as easy as possible for friends and family to get to. If the location is meaningful for the deceased so much the better, but it must be accessible. Consider public transport links or even the possibility of mourners car sharing or providing lifts to those who will find it difficult to travel.
And although there are fewer and fewer rules around funerals, noisy public spaces are probably not suitable. It pays to choose somewhere that will be sensitive to the unique circumstances of a funeral service or wake.
Golden Charter has one of the largest network of independent, local funeral directors in the UK. Many are long-standing, family-run businesses and all can provide compassionate and professional advice. Find out more about how you can plan for your funeral with one of the funeral directors in our network. Request a free, no obligation information pack or call 0808 169 4534.