5 Things to consider when choosing funeral flower arrangements

Funeral floral arrangements can make a big difference to the feeling or ambience at a funeral and there are several things to consider when deciding the types of flowers and the styles of floral arrangements to order for a funeral.

Flowers can be chosen by style – formal, relaxed, wildflowers, structured – by colour, or by meaning and there are several traditional styles of flower arrangements which are often chosen for funerals here in Australia.

The flowers can reflect the personality of the deceased or can enhance a formal or relaxed mood at the service. Budget is something to consider and this will often be affected by what flowers are in season, where the funeral is taking place and the size of any arrangements chosen.

While flowers might seem like an unnecessary extra on such a sad or solemn day, be sure to consider the softening and uplifting effect the right flowers can have. Fresh flowers bring a fresh, familiar scent to a room and laying a carpet of flowers over a coffin can soften the harsh symbolism, making the final goodbye a little less harrowing on those in attendance.

The types of funeral flower arrangements

Funeral floral tributes come in many different shapes and forms, but the first thing to remember is you are not required to stick with either tradition or some pre-determined arrangement style, if you don’t feel it suits the personality of your loved one, your budget or the type of service or life celebration you plan to have.

Floral baskets are an informal way to display flowers at a funeral. They can be teamed with significant memorabilia to commemorate your loved one, like dad’s favourite scotch bottle or a teddy bear or toys if the funeral is for a child. The possibilities here are endless and only limited by your creativity and how personalised you would like the floral arrangements to be. Your funeral director will be able to make some suggestions if you are at a loss for ideas.

Standing sprays are a formal and quite traditional style of funeral floral tribute and these are usually placed alongside the coffin in the church or by the graveside. They are suitable for viewing from the front only and are generally placed on an easel for height and stability.

Sometimes families choose floral wreaths, hearts or crosses can be laid on the coffin, placed around the base of the bier or coffin stand, or on easels either beside the coffin or at the graveside. The funeral wreath is a traditional shape associated with remembrance with the circle representing everlasting life. Crosses and hearts have obvious religious and emotional significance. It is also possible to spell the name of the deceased in floral letters or create a flag of their country of birth or favourite sporting team to place on the coffin if they were a serious fan in life.

To keep the floral design simple boxed arrangements may be used, which can then be given to key family members to take home as a small keepsake.

Decorating the coffin with flowers can be done as simply as by placing a single rose, or a structured coffin sheath or single or double-ended coffin display to give a more formal and more elaborate look. A spray of local wildflowers gives a beautifully natural look and when teamed with some gumnuts, eucalyptus leaves and other native foliage which can give off a beautifully fresh aroma.

You may also consider ordering boutonnieres, a small, simple spray worn on the jacket lapel to distinguish pallbearers from other mourners.

Fresh funeral flowers and their meaning

Some families choose the funeral flowers by colour, formality or budget while others look to the meanings associates with different types of flowers.

Lillies, carnations, roses, gladioli, chrysanthemums and Australian natives are all popular choices for funeral flower arrangements with many having significance for the deceased and the mourners in attendance.

White carnations symbolise love and innocence, pink carnations symbolise remembrance and red carnations are a sign of great love and admiration. Throughout many parts of the world including Europe, chrysanthemums are only used as funeral flowers and are symbolic of death, however in Australia they are one of our favourite Mother’s Day flowers and they often make an appearance at funerals of women who were mothers.

Gladioli are often chosen for funeral floral arrangements because of their tall, structured appearance – they are a symbol of strength, moral integrity and sincerity.

Roses are considered a symbol of love and often take pride of place in funeral flower arrangements which white a popular choice to symbolise peace and pure love.

Be practical with your choice of funeral flowers

Let’s not forget that flowers are grown, not made; and although intervention with greenhouses and artificial growing conditions have advanced, there are still some flowers which cannot be sourced locally if they are out of season.

Talking to your funeral director or the florist about this early in the funeral preparations may help avoid disappointment on the day of the service. Often flowers sources from elsewhere because they are locally out of season are not as pretty or as fragrant and sometimes, they can be extremely expensive. 

Often it is possible to choose a look-a-like flower, which is locally in season, to give you the same effect as your elusive first preference. If you feel very strongly about having your loved one’s favorite blooms adorning the coffin, ordering a locally-sourced look-a-like this could be a more cost-effective way of getting the same effect.

Considering the cost of funeral flowers

Funeral flowers can be as simple or elaborate as you wish and so costs can vary from a few dollars for a single rose to hundreds of dollars for a complete suite of funeral arrangements including coffin displays, wreaths for the graveside and pallbearer’s boutonnieres. It all depends on the types of flowers you choose for the funeral.

Your funeral director will help you keep the budget for flower arrangements under control.  Often funeral packages will include a certain type of arrangement, to help keep costs down and to take the guesswork out of the decision making when at the time it might feel like an insignificant consideration.

Colour and style considerations when choosing funeral flowers

Other considerations when choosing flowers for a funeral might be the age of the loved one who has died, whether they were male or female, if they had any floral preferences in life or the colour of other elements of the funeral like the hearse, the venue’s interior or the coffin itself.

Pure white lilies or roses are striking on either a black gloss coffin or they may look much more subdued on a natural timber-style coffin. Wildflowers scattered over a wicker coffin look beautifully simple and natural, while standing displays, wreaths and coffin displays are quite structured and might suit a traditional church funeral or the funeral of an older person.

Relaxed open blooms might be more appropriate for a young girl or lady’s funeral while glasshouse roses give a formal feeling to the funeral of an older lady.

If it’s not a decision you are comfortable making, just talk to your funeral director and they will help steer you in the right direction to select flowers or other tributes that will best suit the circumstances and budget. Choosing the right floral arrangements for your loved one’s funeral is just one of the decisions that the funeral arrangers to McCartney Family Funerals can help with. Call them on 1300 043 522 for assistance day or night, right across south-east Queensland or find out more at

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