Understanding Funeral Flower Etiquette
Your guide to choosing the best sympathy flowers
A gift of sympathy flowers demonstrates your support, and helps comfort the bereaved. Because there are so many options for funeral flowers, choices can seem overwhelming. But once you understand funeral flower etiquette, you can easily select appropriate funeral flowers to express your condolences to the family. The guidelines below will help you do just that!
What types of flower arrangements are appropriate for funerals?
The immediate family provides the flowers to adorn the casket, such as a casket spray, floral rosary, or casket pillow. Casket sprays often include banners or ribbons expressing affection for the deceased. If the family has chosen a cremation service, they may select funeral flowers to decorate the display table, such as a cremation arrangement, photo display, or floral garland.
Extended family members and groups of colleagues or friends may choose to send larger arrangements, such as standing funeral sprays or floral wreaths. Funeral floral wreaths are offered in lovely shapes, including circles, hearts, and crosses. Sprays and wreaths are displayed on standing easels, usually close to the casket. These, too, may include ribbon banners honoring the deceased.
Neighbors, friends, and members of the community can select from a wide variety of sympathy floral arrangements. A local florist can provide designs in your preferred style, including funeral urns, sympathy flower baskets, and vase arrangements.
Where should I send sympathy flowers?
If you know where and when the funeral will be held, you may wish to send your gift of sympathy flowers to the funeral home. Larger pieces, such as standing sprays and funeral urns, are usually sent to the funeral home to enhance the environment for the service. A local florist can coordinate with the funeral director to ensure your gift arrives in time for the funeral.
You may also choose to have sympathy flowers delivered to the home, so that family members can take comfort from them in the days following the funeral service.
What kind of flowers should I send for sympathy?
Sympathy and funeral flowers tend to be a bit more formal than other types of floral arrangements. For a traditional look, you might choose lilies, roses, or gladioli. Snapdragons, stock, larkspur, and carnations are also popular. Flowers with a more casual garden feel, like daisies and sunflowers, are less commonly selected. But when it comes to choosing sympathy flowers, there are no hard-and-fast rules. For instance, if you’re honoring someone who loved tulips, ask your local florist to include them in your arrangement.
Can sympathy flowers be colorful?
Whites, ivories, and soft pastel tones like peach and lavender, are the most traditional choices for sympathy flowers. Once again however, there are no iron-clad rules. As a florist, I’ve often been asked to create colorful funeral flower arrangements to commemorate the lives of men and women with bright, bold personalities. Feel free to take cues from your understanding of the deceased. But if you’re unsure which colors to choose, know that soft shades are always appropriate.
Can I send a sympathy gift instead of flowers?
While most people choose to express their condolences by sending sympathy flowers to the family of the deceased, some types of gifts can also be appropriate. Potted plants, such as orchids, peace lilies, and dish gardens, are a welcome and suitable choice. If the family enjoys gardening, you may even select a plant for the outdoors, such as a rose bush.
You may also choose to send a gourmet basket to the home for the family to enjoy and share with visitors during the grieving period. Most gourmet baskets include fruit, chocolates, savory snacks, coffees, and teas. Your local florist can customize your basket to meet any special dietary needs.
Other gifts might include memorial items like wind chimes or garden plaques. If the family has requested charitable donations in lieu of flowers, then by all means you should honor their wishes.
To whom should I address the sympathy flower card?
When sending flowers to the funeral home, address the card in the name of the deceased (e.g., Mr. John Smith). When sending flowers to the family home, address the card to the closest surviving relative and their family (e.g., Mrs. Susan Smith and family).
What should I write on the sympathy flower card?
Because sympathy flower cards are quite small, it is best to keep your message brief but meaningful. Short phrases are most common, such as, 'I will remember John fondly,' or 'We are keeping you in our prayers.' Ask for assistance from your local florist if you need suggestions for your sympathy card message. As a florist, I help my customers write succinct messages that convey their sentiments simply and with feeling.
How should I sign the sympathy flower card?
As a courtesy, sign the sympathy card with both your first and last names, to minimize any possible confusion for the recipients. If you’re sending flowers from a family, include your spouse’s name but summarize the remainder: e.g., Laura and Thomas Hayes and family.
When sending flowers from a group of people such as colleagues, sports teams, or church groups, simply sign the card with the name of the group: e.g., Your friends from the Wednesday Night Bowling League. It is unnecessary to list the individual group members.
Choose sympathy flowers with confidence
With a solid understanding of funeral flower etiquette, you’re certain to select the most appropriate flowers to express your sympathy. If you need additional guidance, feel free to reach out. We’re here, and happy to help!
Best wishes from Lise and the Love in Flower Team