How To Pre-Plan a Graveside Service

In pre-planning funeral arrangements, one type of service to consider is a graveside service (a funeral service that is held at a gravesite at a cemetery). A graveside service can follow a traditional funeral, can precede a memorial service, or can be a stand-alone event. It is a type of service that can be held for burial, or for interment of cremated remains.

Where a graveside service takes place

A graveside service is held at the place of interment in a cemetery: at a grave, mausoleum crypt, or columbarium niche.

Graveside service costs

Holding only a graveside service can be less expensive than holding a traditional funeral. Some costs that a stand-alone graveside service avoids are:

  • Renting a chapel at a funeral home or religious place of worship, and therefore:
  • Extensive use of funeral home staff
  • Renting space for a viewing or visitation, and therefore:
  • Embalming
  • Traditional funeral features, such as flowers, musicians or soloists, and renting limousines and sedans for transportation of the family

However, graveside services are commonly held in addition to funeral services, in which case they are generally not less expensive than funeral services.

Graveside service features

A graveside service can be thought of as a pared-down funeral service. Many of the features of a traditional funeral are present, but minimized. For example:

  • Viewings and visitations are either very brief or not held at all
  • The funeral conductor/officiant can be a member of the clergy, a funeral director, or a friend or family member. However, the service in general is much shorter, requiring less of the officiant's time.
  • Pallbearers are generally not used at a graveside service, as the casket is usually in place by the time service attendees arrive
  • Usually only one eulogy is delivered rather than multiple eulogies, and there tend to be fewer readings and/or prayers
  • There are usually less flower arrangements or no flower arrangements, which can save money
  • Musicians or soloists do not usually perform at a graveside service
  • Photo slideshows and video tributes are not part of a graveside service, as the location generally cannot accommodate them

Think about who you'd like to attend your graveside service

You can limit graveside services to only family members or you can decide to include friends and acquaintances as well. Having a graveside service does not mean that less people will attend the service.

Pre-plan a post-graveside service reception or gathering

After the service, it is common to have a reception or gathering, which can be held at a funeral home, religious place of worship, a family home, or another location that can accommodate all those who attended the funeral. Food and drink are often provided, sometimes by the family and sometimes by the community. To learn more about how to plan a post-service reception, see our article Pre-Planning a Reception.

To find a funeral home to handle your pre-plans, use our resource Guide: Finding a Funeral Home.

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