When you’re planning a funeral, especially your own, it’s surprising how many aspects of the big event you can tailor. Take getting there…
The way you are conveyed on your final journey to the funeral service can help those left behind better understand who you were. You might like to take care of the transport arrangements for loved ones too, so that getting to the funeral on time is one less thing for them to worry about.
This guide looks at some of the transport choices available to discuss with the funeral director or prepaid funeral plan provider.
Who is this guide for?
Traditional funeral transport
Traditionally, a motor hearse transports the coffin to the crematorium or place of burial, and family cars take the chief mourners.
The family cars are typically limousines, but can be estate or saloon cars which can cut the cost.
Each limousine can carry up to six people, sometimes seven - with the seventh passenger seated next to the chauffeur. A classic red Routemaster bus can carry up to 32 passengers on the upper deck. Funeral staff accompany the coffin in the lower saloon.
Many people appreciate having a chauffeur-driven car to get them to the service on time. It's one less stress and worry on the day and they get to share such a poignant journey with others. Many, on the other hand, feel more comfortable in their own car.
What funeral hearse transport options are there?
If you’d prefer to flout the motor hearse convention and go out in the style of your choosing - after all, it’s your last chance to make a statement! - you've plenty of choice.
A traditional motor hearse is classy, or showy, depending on your viewpoint. There are electric options for the eco-minded.
You can have a two or four horse-drawn hearse with a glass carriage, and feather plumes in your favourite colour for the horses.
Still a bit conventional? You could opt for a fire engine, a JCB, or a tractor. Perhaps something more retro would tick your boxes, such as a motorcycle and sidecar (that’s where you’d be), a trike motorbike hearse, a vintage lorry, a milk float for a very special delivery, or a VW camper van?
Prefer to keep things simple? What about an estate car, a Land Rover, or – popular with natural meadow and woodland burial grounds – a bicycle hearse or a handcart?
And if you’re determined to have the last laugh, there’s always Del Boy’s three-wheeler reimagined as a hearse from Only Fools & Hearses , or a hearse that looks like the Batmobile.
Only Fools and Hearses
For all Trotter fans and independent traders
You can more or less ask for whatever you want. Essentially, if it’s legal, your funeral provider will try their best to accommodate.
Prices for an alternative hearse will be about two or three times the price of what you would expect to pay for a traditional motor hearse.
If budget is your primary consideration, the lowest cost option is what’s termed a 'specialist vehicle’ or ‘suitable vehicle’ - in other words a private ambulance or estate car.
Where does the funeral procession start?
On the day of the funeral the hearse and any following cars will leave ('process') from the place of rest.
The only limitation on the route and how far you travel to the place of cremation or burial, will depend on the terms of the funeral director's service or the terms of a prepaid funeral plan. A funeral package or plan will typically include 15 miles. This is usually enough for the hearse to swing by home, and for the mourners to follow from there. (Mileage can sometimes be extended outside the terms for an extra cost per mile.)
People often like to take a trip down memory lane, taking in places along the way that were meaningful. You could, for example, drive by the park where you walked the dogs, the place where you got married, your favourite pub or chippie, or a bench where you’ve enjoyed watching the world go by. You could even specify a drive through your hometown on the way to your journey’s end at the crematorium or place of burial.
What transport options are included in a funeral plan?
A funeral plan will include a traditional motor hearse or a suitable vehicle as standard, and up to two limousines. But there's a variety of prepaid funeral plan types to suit all needs. With transport or without, and some with the option to upgrade, e.g. to a horse-drawn hearse.*
* Read your funeral plan providers’ terms carefully as they all differ as to when - or indeed if - you can make changes to your Plan, which could be at the time you buy, during, or after a final payment.
List of alternative hearse suppliers
Only Fools & Hearses - bygc.me/onlyfoolsandhearse
Motorcycle Hearse - bygc.me/motorcycle
Trike Hearse - bygc.me/trike
Morris Minor Hearse - bygc.me/moggy
Land Rover Hearse - bygc.me/landrover
Bicycle Hearse - bygc.me/bicycle
Chevrolet 3001 Pickup - bygc.me/chevrolet
Ford Funeral Handy Van - bygc.me/handyvan
VW Camper Van - bygc.me/vw-camper
Fire Engine Hearse - bygc.me/fireengine
Hot-rod Hearse - bygc.me/hotrod