Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 10.28.2022

Your Guide to Private Funerals

Your Guide to Private Funerals



4 min read


    What are private funerals?

    Private funerals are funerals where the guest list is limited only to immediate family members or close friends.

    Why do families have private funerals?


    The rule of thumb is that the bigger the funeral, the bigger the expense.  Many families aren’t comfortable with such expenses and thus may opt for a private funeral.


    The cost aside, sometimes even the wealthy opt for private funerals for the much sought-after privacy, and the guest list is immediate family only.

    Religious or cultural customs

    There are certain customs in different cultures which aren’t open to the public but are limited to the close ones only.

    Expressing grief

    It can be uncomfortable for the deceased’s family to express grief in front of everyone. Hence, they might opt for a service with close ones only, to feel comfortable while expressing their grief.

    Who is invited to a private funeral?

    The list of people invited is strictly based on the discretion of the deceased’s family. They might invite their immediate family members only or also include a few close friends.

    Funeral Etiquettes to observe for private funerals

  1. How to know who’s invited?
  2. The only way to ascertain if you’re invited or not is to check your mail.

  3. How to respond if you’re not invited?
  4. It can be upsetting to know that you’re not invited, especially if you felt close to the deceased. However, bear in mind that the family must have had their reasons and it’s nothing personal.

  5. How to offer condolences?
  6. Even if you’re not invited to the private funeral, you can still offer your condolences by sending flowers or a letter.

  7. Avoid sensitive questions.
  8. It’s best to avoid asking anything which might be offensive or intrusive. At this point of grief, they might not be in a position to offer you explanations.

  9. Stay for only a short period of time.
  10. Even if you’re invited, be mindful of when the time is right to exit the funeral. Private funerals are usually short and sweet. 

    Tips for planning a private funeral

    1. Limit the guest list to include only the close ones.

    When planning a funeral it’s completely up to you to decide who to invite. You can choose to keep the guest list to immediate family members only or expand it to include a few close friends as well.

    2. Mention the private funeral in the obituary.

    When acquaintances and the general public read the obituary, they’re quite likely to enquire about funeral service details. Hence, it’s best to mention the private funeral in the obituary itself to avoid uncomfortable questions.

    3. Don’t shy away from asking for help.

    Even though it might be a smaller funeral, it would still require some planning and organizing. Thus, please feel free to reach out to your close ones for help in arranging the private funeral.

    Ideas for a private funeral

    1. Have a small service at your local park.

    Sometimes, the space at home isn’t adequate or perhaps, you would want some fresh air. In this case, a simple and sweet service at your local park is a good place to host a private barbeque or picnic.

    2. Consider holding a virtual funeral.

    The year 2020 showed how unforeseen pandemics can wreak havoc on our travel plans. In such cases, you may opt for a virtual funeral and live stream the service for those who are unable to attend.

    3. Dine together at your family’s favorite restaurant.

    Few activities are as intimate and joyful as breaking bread together. Hosting a toast in the honor of the deceased and sharing a meal as one family can be a great bonding event.

    4. Consider hosting a graveside service.

    A private funeral at the grave of the deceased can be a powerful and solemn event. The members can share their memories, and thoughts and say their prayers for the departed soul.

    5. Host an at-home potluck.

    As a more intimate alternative to dining at a restaurant, you can opt to host an at-home potluck, where all the members bring their own dish and the family shares it among themselves.