Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 10.26.2022

How Long Does a Funeral Service Usually Last?

How Long Does a Funeral Service Usually Last?

Reviewed By: William Prout

Cross Checked By: Joshua Siegel

How Much Time Does A Funeral Take?

Each funeral differs from the other. Funeral length can vary based on culture, religion, personal preferences, and more. These variables make it tough to ascertain how long a typical funeral service would last. Short funeral ceremonies can be conducted within 15 minutes, whereas some funerals can last longer than 90 minutes. Hence, the average funeral may last somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. When planning a funeral, discuss timings with your funeral director to gauge how long a funeral will last. 

How Long Do Funerals Last?

The average funeral service lasts for around an hour, although there is a lot of variability in the length of services subject to religious beliefs and customs. Some services can last for days while others can be as short as 20 to 30 minutes. It is common for a funeral service slot to be allocated on an hourly basis, but it is always possible for you to request for your funeral home or cemetery for more time. When booking a venue for funeral arrangements, remember to account for some extra time for people to enter and exit. You may want to consider booking a double time slot in case the funeral runs over time, just to err on the side of caution. Note that your crematorium and cemetery costs will depend on the length of the slots you have booked for your service. Some services are deliberately kept shorter than others. Following this, some time is set aside for family and relatives of the deceased to share stories and mourn together.

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It is common for some services to last as long as two hours when time is given over to speakers, funeral songs, hymns, readings, and so on. Certain cemeteries and funeral homes might charge a late running fee, in the scenario the service runs over the slot booked. It is important to request an itemized list of such costs beforehand so you can be prepared. But when it comes to the length of a service you are attending, you can glean a rough idea by the length of the order of service, based on the funeral service schedule, given out as you enter the viewing. This schedule will detail how the service will be structured. For instance, it might begin with a song or prayer, followed by a reading of the eulogy, and then time allotted to sharing stories, poems, and collective grieving. If you plan on arranging a funeral, speak with your minister or celebrant for a precise time estimate of your service.

In the situation where you need to leave early, ensure you cause as little disruption of the ceremony. Funeral receptions or wakes can last for a few hours after the ceremony, but it is expected that guests will come and go at this time. Hence, it is not expected for attendees to stay until the very end. The family of the bereaved will typically stay throughout the speak with guests.

How Long Does A Cremation Service Last Compared to a Burial?

Similar to burials, the length of cremation services can vary, but most are likely to last between 30 to 45 minutes. This length does not account for the time taken to enter and exit the premises by the family and friends of the loved ones. During this period, the cremation service may feature readings, poems, a eulogy, and music. 

In contrast, a burial service tends to last longer. If the person is being buried, then there might be a service held first, that follows the format of an ordinary funeral service lasting an hour. The burial itself will be followed by a few words from mourners, which can add another 30 minutes to the ceremony. What must also be factored in is the travel time between the churchyard or cemetery where the burial will take place and the location of the service. 

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What Determines The Length Of A Funeral?

Besides cultural differences, there are multiple factors that can affect funeral time. Some of the main ones include:

  • The number of attendees: If the number of attendees is few, a funeral can last shorter. However, the more attendees there are, the longer it can conduct the funeral service as everybody settles in. Eulogies might also last longer as there might be more speakers at larger funerals. 
  • Allocated budget: The budget one has allocated when planning a funeral also determines its length. Naturally, the longer a funeral is likely to go on, the more expensive it is. If you plan on keeping your funeral on the shorter side, this might be easier on your overall expenditure. Ensure you talk through the celebrant of your funeral about all included fees before booking any services, as some locations might charge higher fees than others. 
  • Personal preferences: Whether it be the wishes of one’s loved ones or those of the deceased, the average length of a funeral ultimately depends on how long they would want the service to go on. Some people prefer poetry, eulogies, prayers, and other readings in addition to traditional rites as part of a funeral service. Some funerals also include a viewing which occurs before the service starts and allows the deceased’s loved ones to view their body. This can last for a number of hours, but not all visitors are required to attend this. 

    Summing up

    Multiple factors determine whether a funeral will last 30 minutes or a couple of hours. From the slot time booked to the location of your service; each of these factors needs to be accounted for during the funeral planning process. When you are planning a funeral, it is a good idea to discuss the timings of your service with a funeral director, who will likely give you a good estimate of how long your service will last.