Funeral Etiquette: Setting a Funeral Dress Code

Funeral Etiquette: Setting a Funeral Dress Code

Funeral Etiquette: Setting a Funeral Dress Code

Although many of the traditions of funeral planning remain intact regardless of how much times may change, do not be surprised if you find people relaxing quite a bit in terms of the funeral dress code. In part due to the casual nature of today’s clothing in general, it is becoming more common to see people attend funerals in things like jeans, khakis, and sneakers.

Some people have no problem with this, as the most important issue isn’t what attendees are wearing so much as the fact that they came to show their support. For others, this lack of reverence can be a real slap in the face. Like a black-tie wedding or other formal event, some funerals call for more somber and appropriate attire.

It can be difficult to know whether or not you are justified in setting a funeral dress code. After all, unlike a wedding (which people must be invited to in order to attend), funerals tend to be open to the public—and dictating what guests may wear could put a strain on an already overwhelming emotional time.

Funeral Etiquette: Setting a Funeral Dress Code

Setting Funeral Attire Restrictions

Funeral attire varies depending on culture, religion, location, and each individual family. This kind of variability makes it difficult to set rules regarding dress code. If you feel very strongly that guests show the proper amount of respect, it is best to make it clear from the start.

  • Place a notification in the funeral announcement. If you are publishing an announcement in the newspaper, online, or even notifying a church or other group, take a moment to mention the funeral dress code. There is no need to go into elaborate detail; rather you can simply start the ball rolling by requesting formal funeral attire.
  • Put it in the obituary. An obituary is a good place to make funeral dress code requirements clear. Because obituaries tend to be longer and more involved than a funeral announcement, you can give your reasons. Maybe the deceased wanted everyone to show up in black tie, or you’d like to do a tribute by having everyone wear something purple. Perhaps you’d prefer if everyone wore white instead. It is perfectly acceptable to mention it here.
  • Let the funeral director know. Many people contact a funeral home directly to learn about the arrangements being made. By letting the funeral director know of your wishes, he or she can pass the message along to those who enquire.

The most important step is to remember that enforcing a dress code by turning people away is not recommended. Although you might not like the relaxed funeral attire in recent years, mourning is a very personal process, and the individual may have reasons for wearing what they wear that you are not aware of. Do your best to make your attire requests known—and then respect everyone’s individual choices.

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