How A Celebratory Funeral Can Still Be Formal

Many people will be familiar with funeral services where the emphasis is less on mourning a death, but on celebrating a life. Sometimes that can extend as far as asking people to dress informally, with the standard black ties and suits being replaced with colourful attire and casual clothes.

However, this is not an ‘either-or’ situation. Every funeral can have its own tone and flavour and the funeral stationary for the day should reflect this

Among the most notable funerals recently was that of Dame Deborah James, the former headmistress who became the host of the ‘You, me and the big C’ podcast as she fought against bowel cancer.

The Daily Mirror reported on the details of her funeral as she was laid to rest, focusing on her “heartbreaking” choice of song of ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ by the Blood Brothers.

However, while the paper noted she had wanted the event to be a celebration of her life, it also stated the words she had given to the Sunday Times in an interview in the spring, when she said: “It sounds morbid, but I want a sombre funeral in black and white because I think people look good in black and white.”

She did add one fun element, however, after stating she wanted it to be held at a church in Barnes, south west London. The wake afterwards would need to have tequila, she insisted.

Sure enough, footage of the event shows Dame Deborah’s funeral was indeed a black and white dress affair at St Mary’s in Barnes. The stationary was understated and without colour except for the picture of Dame Deborah herself.

This goes to show that funerals need not be an all-or-nothing affair, but can mix the formal with the informal in all manner of ways, reflecting the different tastes and wishes of the deceased in each and every case.