What to wear to a funeral — a detailed guide

If you are wondering what to wear to a funeral that you’re invited to, you’re not alone. It can be a tricky task. The underlying theme in all of this is respect — dressing in a way that doesn’t appear flashy and instead, blends in with everyone in the room. However, expectations of what men and women should wear can vary, and not all families opt for the traditional forms of funerals these days. 

Nevertheless, we believe there are certain tips you can follow in choosing funeral clothes that help you avoid looking out-of-place in any way, communicate mourning, and show you’re taking the occasion seriously. But please be mindful that these are guidelines and ultimately, appropriate clothing options will depend on the culture, heritage and traditions followed by the family of the deceased.

1. General guidelines in dressing for a funeral

The rule of thumb when it comes to funerals is that black is the traditional colour choice. Almost always, it is appropriate, versatile for both formal and casual types of clothing, and you are never going to look out of place wearing black to a funeral.

Nevertheless, bear in mind that non-black clothing is also acceptable in many cases, so long as the colours aren’t bright types such as reds, oranges, yellows and pinks. White, meanwhile, is an acceptable colour for shirts worn under darker colours (e.g. white dress shirt overlaid with a dark suit), as well as accents and jewellery pieces. 

The commonly accepted approach to dressing for a funeral is that you ought to dress as you would for a religious event or job interview. That means it’s best to have the upper torso, shoulders and knees covered. Shirts or dresses should come up to the neck, and open collars are not recommended.

If the funeral you’re attending is more casual, then t-shirts might be appropriate, but do avoid going with shirts that have logos or wild prints. To play it safe, bring along a formal jacket in case you arrive and see that everybody else is a little more dressed up, as this basic addition will help make your own outfit passable. Again, colour choices should be subdued, since you don’t want to draw attention away from the person everyone is there to pay respect to. 

On a similar note, don’t consider wearing athletic shoes, sandals or flip-flops to the funeral regardless of whether it’s outdoor or has a casual dress code. This is simply not the occasion for those kinds of footwear. And lastly, be mindful of the religious setting of the funeral, if it has one, given that certain religions may require traditional wear for men or women. Read more on funeral traditions of various religions here.

2. What to wear to a funeral: men

In Western cultures, first and foremost, you’re never going to go wrong with a buttoned shirt. Preferably it has long sleeves and a collar, and you have it tucked in. Your best choice of pants would be dark-coloured slacks, and your safest bet here is black. Dark jackets are always the best kind to overlay the shirt. Don’t forget to wear a belt, and as for your footwear, choose between loafers and dress shoes.

Here are some suggested ideas for men’s attire at a funeral:

• Dress suit with tie.


• Polo shirt with slacks.


• Button-down shirt with tie and slacks.


• Button-down shirt with vest, tie and slacks.


• Any of the above overlaid with a blazer instead of a suit jacket.


3. What to wear to a funeral: women

Women’s funeral wear tends to be formal, so you’ll want to make sure that your shoulders are covered and that a skirt or pants cover – or at least reach – your knees. Usually  Western cultures wear clothing that isn’t brightly coloured for a funeral, although tasteful colour accents may be acceptable.  

Here are some suggested ideas for women’s attire at a funeral:

• Dress


• Pants and top with sleeves


• Pantsuit


• Skirt suit


• Skirt with sweater


• Skirt with blouse


4. Dressing for non-traditional services

Given there are other forms of services you may attend that aren’t traditional funerals, it’s important that you note the differences among them so that you’ll have a better idea about how to dress for them. That said, if you’re ever in doubt — particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the venue or don’t personally know the host family that well — it’s best to go with conservative, traditional options. Remember that nobody will ridicule or scold you for showing up overdressed to such solemn occasions. It’s far worse to come underdressed.

What to wear to a memorial service

Typically, memorial services are held without the body present. While this might happen due to various reasons, it’s not unusual for a memorial service to take place weeks or even months after the person has passed away. Maybe different groups of people are invited to attend on separate dates, and it’s easier to host them on weekends.

Therefore, a memorial service can be a bit less formal than a funeral. So while the same guidelines for dressing for funerals apply, you can opt to lean more towards the dressy-casual side of the spectrum — and in some cases, even wear jeans. The important thing, nonetheless, is that the colours are subdued and nothing about your clothes is flashy.

What to wear to a wake or visitation

In some parts of the world, a wake is a reception held after the funeral, but in this case, we’re talking about the United States, where a  wake is an open-casket viewing of the body of the deceased person. 

Although it’s traditionally a Catholic ceremony, in recent years people have used the term ‘wake’ more loosely, while others tend to call it simply a ‘viewing’. A visitation, while a similar event, takes place without the person’s body present. Either way, you’re expected to express your condolences and give support to the family and close friends of the person who has passed away. 

When you attend, it’s best to stick to guidelines we gave earlier for funeral attire. But if you want to be completely sure, check with the family about how formally you should dress. They should be able to confirm whether everyone is going to wear black or some will be attending in grey or other dark, non-black choices.

What to wear to a celebration of life

Not too long ago, the phrase ‘celebration of life’ came into vogue, along with the concept of focusing on how someone has lived their life as opposed to the fact that their life has ended. So if you’re invited to this occasion, expect the service to be more casual and perhaps a little more lively. You might even witness a creative, alternative ceremony that causes guests to smile and laugh about notable moments in that person’s life. Don’t be shocked if the service ends up being a full-on party with music, drinking and dancing.

Does a celebration of life allow for a more casual wardrobe? Yes, but you’ll still want to dress as respectfully as possible. It still boils down to the culture and values of the family of that person, but it’s quite plausible that going with smart-casual dress and muted colours will be perfectly acceptable.

Remember that if you won’t be wearing black, then darker earth tones are the next group of colours to consider. Nearly all shades of grey are highly suitable, as are dark blues. For your reference, here is a palette of non-black clothing colours that are generally suitable to wear to a funeral:

Speaking of funerals and memorial services, note that HeavenAddress has combined with Memories to provide one single platform for remembering loved ones and curating the legacy of you and your family. All HeavenAddress memorials and related content can be found on Memories, safely and securely stored for future generations to access. Memories is also available on iPhone and Android mobile apps, so be sure to register now and start preserving your life’s memories.

20 Best funeral invitation templates in 2021

To provide you with some help at what can be a very difficult time, here’s a guide to creating funeral invitations online, along with 20 recommended funeral invitation templates. 

The passing of a loved one is a  difficult time for the family. There’s the emotional burden that has to run its course, and then there are the multiple responsibilities, schedules and deadlines to worry about — particularly when it comes to that person’s funeral. So yes, seek out guidance and help from professionals in the industry, as they’ll be able to handle the logistics while you attend to your family as you all take time to mourn.

But there’s one task which you may still want some control over: sending a funeral invitation to every friend, relative, workmate or other personal contacts of the person you’ve lost. Before the golden age of the Internet, the traditional way to invite people to funerals was via telephone calls. But while it’s indeed the more personal method, the downside is that it consumes a great deal of time and emotional energy to reach out to each person who would want to attend. 

Instead of calling everybody, you might prefer to call immediate family members and close friends only. And for everyone else, you can save time, energy, and a little money as well by designing a digital invitation to send to their email addresses or share over social media channels. 

How to create a digital funeral invitation

Bear in mind that when it comes to this invitation, there’s no need to make use of overly striking visuals or attention-grabbing words. The message you put on this invitation should be simple, thoughtful and concise. Moreover, you want to include the following details:

• Full name of the celebrant

• Funeral date and time

• Contact information of you or a family member who’s handling RSVPs

• Picture of the deceased (this depends on the invitation template used)

• Details on the order of service (if applicable; or, you can indicate that these will arrive separately later on if that’s the plan).

As for the headline of your invitation, it’s best to go with one of the typical, respectful phrases that express your admiration for your loved one, and respect for the guests. Phrases such as “You are respectfully invited…” and “In loving memory of…” are certainly appropriate, and of course, you can modify them slightly to suit the context of your funeral arrangements. 

Now, here are some well-designed funeral invitation templates, all of which are available for download online. By relying on a template, you’re allowing yourself more time to grieve, to celebrate your beloved’s life with the rest of the family, and you’re also taking an extra step in making the funeral a truly special occasion.

Funeral invitation template #1


The colour scheme of this one is a mixture of plum and maroon, which gives your invitation a hint of royalty while maintaining a sombre tone, as there is no presence of brightly coloured details or highlights.

Funeral invitation template #2


Given the way invitations used to be sent in the form of wooden slabs (with the details carved out) some time ago, this design somewhat serves as a throwback to those. 

Funeral invitation template #3


If intricately drawn leaves and stems are the sorts of elements that appeal to you, then this template might be a very suitable choice. The pink colour also evokes a lot of warmth, so it might help to include a message about joining you in “celebrating the life of” your dearly departed. 

Funeral invitation template #4


Notice the fancy border style and the striking, gilt aspect overall of this template? Use this one if you want to make the funeral a little more special, and to treat your beloved like a king or queen.

Funeral invitation template #5


The combination of a golden border, white text and black background does make this template quite sleek. It’s perhaps among the fanciest of templates on this list.

Funeral invitation template #6


How’s this one for a fresher take on a funeral invitation? We usually associate green with life as opposed to death, which makes this a great choice if you want to use the funeral to celebrate and express joy for the life your loved one lived.

Funeral invitation template #7


Not only are the delicate images of flowers quite striking here, but details of the funeral are enclosed in an oval shape on a white background, which gives them extra prominence.  

Funeral invitation template #8


With its dark shade of turquoise, this template evokes a distinct hint of sadness (which of course, should be the predominant feeling on these occasions).  The well-organised layout adds a sense of formality that’s softened slightly by the leaf motif. 

Funeral invitation template #9


With bright red flowers blooming at the top and bottom of this template, it’s ideal for a  “celebration of life” event — especially if your loved one had a passion for gardening, flowers, or nature.

Funeral invitation template #10


Intricate roses help create a nice contrast against the white foreground and simple black frame on this stylish invitation.

Template #11


This is one template that uses a clear photo of a bouquet of roses for the background. And while this can be edited online and sent out via email, you might actually find that it also works nicely for printed invitations, too.

Template #12


What’s unique about this template is the background texture, which makes it seem like this invitation was designed over a watercolour painting. And given the black text displayed over a predominantly white background, you’ll have no problem making all the details readable.

Template #13


When it comes to “celebration of life” events, it’s probably worth using a happy photo of your loved one. This helps to confirm to everyone who is invited that indeed, this event is about being thankful for the life that person lived, and the contributions they made. 

Template #14


Is orange perhaps a more attractive colour to you than red or pink? Perhaps your beloved chose orange as their favourite colour. In either case, this eye-catching option might be the perfect template for your invitation. 

Template #15


This classy invitation uses classic yet modern fonts and a timeless gold-and-navy color scheme to show deep respect for your loved one.

Template #16


This template has a distinctly simple design with simple graphic elements that bring attention to the person you’ve lost, rather than the invitation itself.

Template #17


Did your beloved enjoy having a good time at parties? Well, then this template might just serve as the perfect way of paying tribute to their life – with everyone invited to a “memorial party”, rather than a funeral.

Template #18


The purple in this design is particularly strong, and the mountain image in the background reminds us that the universe in which we live is bigger than any of us understand. This reflective design is a very respectful choice. 

Template #19


If you’d like to include the order of service in your invitation, this template is an excellent choice. The pink background and hints of nature help add a touch of sweet sorrow to the occasion.

Template #20


Apart from flowers, there’s probably nothing more appropriate for funeral invitations than a depiction of the sky above us. Whether your loved one was religious or not, the sky invokes a sense of awe and reminds us that our lives are part of something much, much bigger.

Memorial invitations like these are essential to celebrate the life of someone you’ve lost, and so is an online memorial. Did you know that HeavenAddress has now joined forces with Memories? That’s right — we’ve combined the two and formed a single platform for remembering loved ones who have passed and curating your legacy, and that of your family, right now. All content and memorials on HeavenAddress are now securely stored in Memories. Also, you can access Memories both on your desktop and via Android and iOS apps. Create a Memories account and start preserving the memories of your family’s lives today.

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