Funerals and flowers. It seems the two go hand in hand but when organizing a funeral, it’s a good idea to understand the departed’s personality, culture, and beliefs and not just assume flowers should be present. However, like most Christian or unaffiliated funerals in the western world, chances are you have some decisions to make about flowers. First is the types of arrangements.
There are four main categories to consider:
1. Vases/Bouquets - Cut flowers, often made up of many different varieties that are placed around the casket in baskets or on tables and also given/received as condolence.
2. Sprays - Large flat arrangements of cut long-stemmed flowers to lay over the top of the casket or display on a flower stand.
3. Wreaths/Crosses - Just as it says, these are shaped arrangements of flowers. They can be circles, hearts, or crosses, to be displayed on stands beside the casket or even placed inside it.
4. Live plants - Where all of the above use cut or fake flowers, it is becoming increasingly popular to include living plants as well. Similar to traditional bouquets, these are often received as condolence and are placed around the casket in baskets.
Once you know the type of arrangements you want, then comes the task of choosing flowers. There are so many variables that go into making these decisions. Did your loved one have a favorite flower you want to highlight, or perhaps a color theme you want to carry through all the arrangements? What season is the funeral taking place in and do you want your funeral flowers to convey a specific meaning? Well, here we have 10 of the most popular cut and live flowers to help you craft the perfect arrangements for your unique situation.
The stalwart Lily. Undoubtedly the most popular funeral flower for their calming peaceful representation of a return to purity or innocence. The White Stargazer Lily in particular is a symbol of sympathy, but any White Lilies can convey grace, dignity, and even majesty. They are an elegant choice for any funeral wreath or bouquet.
Carnations are popular not only for their ability to mix well in other arrangements but also because they are long-lasting. If you are wanting to make Carnations the star of your funeral arrangement keep in mind pink means remembrance, white means love and innocence, and red means admiration and respect.
Some sects of Christianity also symbolically believe the first carnations bloomed from the tears Mary cried for her son as he carried the cross, making this a very popular funeral flower.
Around the world Chrysanthemums or Mums are associated with funerals and mourning. In fact, they are so closely tied to grief and death. In some Asian and European countries, it is considered inappropriate to give this flower at any other time. In the United States, White Chrysanthemums symbolize faith and comfort so when combined with their more universal tie to mourning, this makes for the perfect symbolic funeral flower. Growing in widely varied shapes also makes Mums an easy flower to add to any arrangement, be it a casket spray or simple basket.
Related to the Iris and sometimes known as the “Sword Lily,” the tall, elegant Gladiolus is a classic funeral flower. With its long stems and stately look, Gladiolus symbolizes integrity, morality, and virtue. They come in a variety of colors which makes them a great addition to any funeral floral arrangement. Yet, we recommend you to make sure to use white or subdued shades, especially if they are going to make up the main body of the bouquet.
Right in the middle of our list is Roses. Though more often thought of for romantic occasions, they can be used to bulk up and add loveliness to funeral arrangements as well. Roses have a nearly universal meaning of love and respect, but bright colors should be avoided for a more somber occasion. Good options are soft pink meaning love, grace, and gentility or white Roses which symbolize innocence, reverence/remembrance, and humility. However, though not used in funerals themselves, don’t be alarmed if you receive a condolence arrangement in dark crimson, as it is a way to convey deep shared sorrow and grief. Last, a single Rose when placed in a funeral spray is a symbol of eternal love.
6. Sweet Pea
The stunning and fragile Sweetpea has a very poignant, yet simple meaning: “good bye.” Closest in appearance to perhaps an orchid, these delicate blooms can add a unique look and lovely fragrance to any funeral arrangement. As they come in many colors, for a traditional funeral try to stick to the Sweetpea’s softer colors of white, pink, and lavender to represent the peaceful farewell you are wanting to give to your loved one.
The last of the cut flowers on our list is the Yellow Zinnias. Like many others on this list, Zinnias come in a variety of bright colors. However, it is only the yellow that symbolize remembrance. Perfect for a more casual service or celebration of life, these long-lasting flowers can lend a cheerful brightness to the day, especially if it’s for someone who loved to laugh.
The first and probably most recognizable of live plants is the Orchid. While also used in cut arrangements, it has become increasingly popular to display live flowering plants at funerals with Pink and White Orchids being some of the most common. Orchids in general, are a symbol of love but white and pink Orchids symbolize sympathy and are quite often sent as a plant to a bereaved person. If you want something that says “I will always love you,” then Orchids are the funeral flower for you.
A potted Pink or White Cyclamen is also a lovely choice. Like the above Sweetpea, this plant also means “goodbye.” Small, delicate blooms over soft leaves, reminiscent of Lily pads, give this plant (and your funeral) a peaceful air. They can also be kept as a remembrance of your loved one after the funeral, as a well-cared for Cyclamen can live for up to a century, blooming year after year.
10. Forget Me Nots
The name of this plant gives its inclusion on this list away. The tiny, yet beautiful cornflower-blue blossoms, are a timeless and charming symbol of remembrance. This annual plant is not typically found in cut arrangements due to the fragility and size of the flowers, but a Forget-Me-Not makes for a great funeral potted plant, especially if you don’t wish to have it hanging around for decades afterward. To your departed loved one, it is a promise to never forget them and the impact their life had on you.
So, what flowers best suit your needs? If using one primary flower, hopefully these give you an idea of what you can use as accents to fill out your bouquets. When in doubt about color, white is always the safe option. But whether you're using purple peonies, classic green foliage, or anything your heart desires, another possibility to consider is carrying your floral theme through the rest of your funeral. Reflecting the flowers in the programs, slideshows, and decor can be a nice way to honor someone who loved nature.
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The last choice then, is where to go to get your flowers. It’s always good to shop locally, but when not possible or for last minute needs, here are some online flower businesses that operate across the continental U.S.
Flower Delivery Services
Urbanstems.com - On-Trend Seasonal Bouquets $$
($15 off your first order of $50 when you click this referral link for Urban Stems)
Bouqs.com - Eco-Friendly Flowers $$
Fromyouflowers.com - Affordable Everyday Flowers $
(10% Off all flowers when you click this referral link for From You Flowers)
Proflowers.com - Modern & Stylish Arrangements $$
1800flowers.com - Classical & Contemporary Arrangements $$
Ftd.com - Expansive Choice & Convenience $$
Daffodils - the symbol that is used by the cancer council, as a sign of respect for all those who have lost their lives to cancer.
Baby’s Breath - For funerals of infants and babies. Baby’s breath symbolizes innocence, pureness, and love
Daisies - As a main flower they are traditionally used for the funerals of children. Primarily white, they are also a popular choice for bulking up funeral arrangements featuring other flowers.