Choosing where to hold a funeral or life celebration is difficult at short notice. Give some thought to your ideal venue in advance and you will be doing a great service.
Traditionally, churches have been the choice for funerals whether or not the deceased was especially religious. Cemeteries usually have a chapel where a similar style of religious service may take place, though these are often smaller than churches and may not have the capacity for a big funeral.
However if you prefer a secular funeral the British Humanist Association can refer you to a humanist funeral celebrant who will be able to advise on suitable locations in your area. There is nothing to stop you arranging your own ceremony entirely, provided someone is prepared to be in charge and act as Master of Ceremonies.
Following a funeral you may wish to provide family and friends with refreshment somewhere private and quiet, close to the church or crematorium and where you will be treated respectfully. Many churches and crematoria have suitable rooms in which to hold a wake, but you should not feel restricted to these: a local pub or village hall might be more welcoming.
Your preferred choice may be to hold a private cremation service for close family, to be followed by a Life Celebration at a more convivial venue. Are you a football or golf fan, would you like to have your send-off in the clubhouse or at the stadium? What about your favourite bar, or you could hire rooms at the church, sailing club or theatre for a special send-off. Your choice of venue may help set the atmosphere, especially important if you would like to encourage your friends and relatives to remember the good times rather than stand in formal silence.
Newer woodland burial grounds, such as this one in Essex, provide separate spaces for welcoming guests and celebrating the life of the dead person, all surrounded by well-kept woodland reinforcing the idea that this is part of a natural process.
Many venues can offer privacy, with space to display your favourite photos or treasured possessions: your childhood athletics cup may be the single thing that conjures up your presence most effectively for loved ones, or you might want space to project a series of photographs of your favourite life memories.
Please let us have your recommendations for places that have proved to be ideal venues for funerals or life celebrations, we hope to compile a useful resource to save others from making grave mistakes.