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Popular funeral flowers and arrangements

A guide to choosing funeral flowers

Expressing sympathy with funeral flowers is one of our longest-standing traditions, but knowing what flowers to choose can be hard, especially at a sensitive time.

The good news is, the continuing rise of alternative funerals has meant traditional funeral flower etiquette has softened, leaving you free to do what you feel is right for the person and the occasion.

This simple guide takes you through some of the most popular flowers chosen for funerals and the meanings behind them, as well as some more unusual and contemporary choices. You’ll also find useful tips for coming up with funeral flower ideas of your own.

Popular flowers for funerals

Lilies

Lilies represent innocence and a return to peace making them the go-to flowers for expressing condolences. The white lily represents purity and the white stargazer lily is a symbol of sympathy.
white lily suitable for funeral flowers

Roses

The rose is another reliable and beautiful choice of funeral flower and a single stem is often enough. All roses represent love, but each colour has a slightly different meaning. White stands for purity and innocence, while deep red roses symbolise love and grief.
white roses for a funeral

Carnations

If the cost of funeral flowers is a concern, carnations are a good option. They also have the advantage of staying at their best for a long time. Pink carnations symbolise remembrance and white varieties represent love.
carnations for funerals

Gladioli

Gladioli are striking flowers often measuring over a metre tall. They come in a huge range of colours and represent strength of character and integrity, making them great funeral flowers for men.
blue and white gladioli funeral flowers for men

Other funeral flower ideas

Chrysanthemums

In some parts of Europe, chrysanthemums are only ever used as funeral flowers and in Asia they symbolise grief. Although we don’t attribute the same meaning to them in the UK, their simple beauty makes them a fitting funeral flower.
bright pink chrysanthemum

Orchids

Orchids universally stand for eternal love. If you’re not sure which ones to go for, pink or white are associated with mourning and are often given as sympathy flowers.
pink orchid stem

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are usually used to say thank you so may not spring to mind as a funeral flower, but they are also associated with deep emotions, so could make a touching choice for a floral tribute.
pale blue hydrangea

Tulips and daffodils

These vibrant spring flowers are associated with new beginnings, but can also add a refreshing burst of colour to a sad occasion — perfect as a tribute to a bubbly personality or for funerals as a celebration of life.
tulips and daffodils funeral flower arrangements

Flower arrangements for funerals

There’s no requirement for flowers expressing sympathy to the family to be presented in a particular way, so do whatever you feel is right. If you’d like the flowers to be on display at the funeral, it’s advisable to go for an arrangement that is flat at the back, so they can be laid down on the coffin or ground.

Here are some popular funeral flower designs:

Sprays and sheaves

spring funeral flower arrangement

Wreaths

A wreath is probably the most familiar funeral flower arrangement. The circular shape represents eternal life and they can be made to different sizes using a variety of flowers.
funeral flower wreath

Baskets

Floral baskets contain a mix of flowers and foliage and are good to display on tables or alongside the coffin.
flower basket for funeral

Special shaped tributes

Special shaped tributes add a very personal touch to a funeral. They can make a name in flowers or something personal such as a much-loved car or sport.
dad tribute funeral flower arrangement

Choosing funeral flowers — 5 things to consider

Family wishes

It’s worth double–checking the family’s wishes. Today, people often ask for donations to favoured charity rather than funeral flowers.

The personality of the person

If the deceased was a bubbly person, you could choose bold, bright flowers to reflect their personality or you could use their favourite flower as inspiration.

Type of funeral

Is it a traditional funeral service or a more of a celebration of life? Knowing the tone of the occasion can help you decide on appropriate funeral flowers.

Your budget

The cost of funeral flowers can mount up especially if you go for large arrangements. Don’t forget, something very simple can be equally as touching if not more so. Don’t underestimate the power of a single rose or hand picked flowers from the garden.

What to write on funeral flowers

Choosing the right words for the card to accompany the flowers can be hardest of all. Don’t feel the need to say too much. A simple ‘Forever in our hearts’ can be enough. Read What to write on funeral flowers and sympathy cards for inspiration.

And finally, always remember that it’s the thought that counts. Sending flowers for a funeral or to express your condolences is a touching gesture and a wonderful way to convey your sympathies.

Find out more about the SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan

You can get a quote or give us a call on 0800 904 7649 to talk about your plan today. You can also request a call back.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.