Funeral Etiquette: Who Needs to Be Paid?

by Eliza Martinez

You already know you'll pay the funeral home and cemetery for a coffin, a burial plot, and preparing the body. Some additional payments are not always included in these bills and it's proper etiquette in many circles to tip others involved in holding a funeral for a loved one. In your grief, you might forget, so understanding the protocol beforehand prepares you when the time comes.

Clergy

Many clergy won't accept a tip for performing a funeral, but offering is good etiquette. This money is often called an honorarium that you present to a pastor or priest in honor of your deceased loved one. In some cases, the clergy use the money as personal funds and in others, the money goes into a church fund. Most honorariums range from $50 to $300. Ministers who spend a lot of time with a dying person and the family or who take part in funeral arrangements typically get more than a clergy member who simply preaches a sermon, reads a few Bible verses or delivers a eulogy at the service.

Music

In many churches the organist, band, choir and handbell choir are not paid. If they play the music for a funeral, it is good etiquette to offer them a tip for their additional services since they make an extra time commitment to be present. In most cases, $50 to $75 for each musician is customary. This money is offered as appreciation for playing requested music as well as to honor a musician's time.

Flowers

Most funerals have a variety of flower arrangements, some ordered by the family of the deceased and others delivered by well-wishers. People who deliver flowers most often work for tips, so offering each delivery person a small tip is appropriate. For small arrangements, $2 to $5 is fine, but up to $10 is customary for larger ones. Whether flowers are delivered straight to the church or funeral home, or they come to you at home, don't forget to thank the delivery person monetarily each time since each delivery may come from a different employee or florist.

Funeral Home Employees

Some of the staff at the funeral home receive tips for their services. These include the person who does hair and make-up on the body, the person who transports the coffin and the person who writes the program for you. If you choose to hire a limo to carry close family members to the burial, this tip might not be included in a funeral home's bill unless the establishment owns its own set of limos. In many cases, most of these tips are included in the final bill. To be sure, ask for an itemized breakdown of the charges so you can offer tips if they don't appear in your final bill. Good etiquette says that you don't tip a funeral director. His services are paid as a salary by the funeral home.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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