Colourful Funerals

Charles 3 Comments


Posted by Belinda Forbes


As a secular funeral celebrant, I’ve noticed a growing trend for colour at funerals – this could be a general request to wear bright colours or a suggestion to wear something in a particular colour.  At one young man’s funeral, the theme was yellow: as well as people wearing yellow ties and scarves, there were yellow flowers covering the coffin; each person who spoke held a sunflower and we all sang Coldplay’s Yellow.  At another, the coffin was purple and adorned with purple feathers and balloons – the mourners were dressed in shades of lilac and purple.  

This can, of course, be fraught with difficulties – many people take great comfort from tradition and the “respect” of wearing black.  Six people carrying the coffin wearing Man U shirts with the deceased’s name on the back is not for everyone.  And what about the people who didn’t realise that the dress code was “wear something red”?  Suddenly the respectful black tie looks out of place.

However, as I look out from the lectern, it is surprisingly moving to see all the men wearing pink ties.  As we become used to each funeral being a unique and personal event, we will make sure to find out if there is a dress code.  Instead of feeling uncomfortable in our colourful clothes on a drizzly day outside the crematorium, we can feel proud that we are honouring the wishes of the person whose life we are there to commemorate.


Belinda Forbes is a secular celebrant working in Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey. Her website is:


  1. Charles

    There’s a very nice funeral director in Solihull, John Hall, who, together with his brilliant daughter Aimee, do a good line in colour. I was celebrant for one of theirs – a red one. John and his crew all wore red short-sleeved shirts and grey trousers. You could easily tell that they were ‘official’ but they blended in brilliantly. I wish more FDs would enter into the spirit as they do. The name of the business? Colour My Funeral!

  2. Charles

    “I do posess a pink tie as a matter of fact,” said the funeral dirctor to me when I told him about the pink theme, “but I certainly won’t be wearing it.”

    Well, all I can say is the family picked the wrong funeral director, and if they’d come to the ceremony arranger (me) first, they’d have been sure to find an undertaker only too happy to respect them by wearing the colour of their choice (I can think of two in walking distance from my house). They could have got a pink coffin if they’d wanted one, too, even a pink hearse for a price.

    I know I’m getting boring on the subject of picking your celebrant before your undertaker because s/he’s the one with the skill to make the ceremony the way you need it to be, but if thousands of people really do visit this blog every week, this is one for you to think about. The change in the fate of future funerals is demand-led rather than supply-led; so if you’ve been to funerals you liked, or to ones you didn’t, it’s in your hands to find the right person who will help you fashion the ritual you vizualize – or even the one you can’t vizualize, yet.

  3. Charles

    Persistent, not boring, Jonathan. We need to keep saying it. Put the ceremony at the centre of your thinking, choose people who’ll help you to achieve what you want, and don’t just think funeral = crem. If that message gradually spreads, a lot of things about funerals would get better. But even celebrants sometimes put out info that suggests they always expect a funeral to be in a crem.

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