The service

Choosing the service that’s right for your family

Having helped families across the decades we are familiar with all aspects of planning a special and memorable funeral service. Whether you choose traditional or contemporary, religious or non-religious, formal or informal – or a blend of influences – we are here to take care of the practicalities.
Our goal is to help and support you to look back without regret and take comfort from the way you celebrated the life of your loved one.

Services can be held at our branches in Elgin, Inverurie, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh and Ashington.

Service rooms are suitable for those that don't want traditional church or crematoria style funerals, some can also be used for catered memorials and celebrations of life.

Who will lead the ceremony?

If the deceased had an active faith it will be probably be clear to you where you’d like the service to be held and who you’d like to officiate. We are also happy to liaise with local or retired clergy to find you the advice and support you require.

For many people a traditional religious service is not appropriate and there are many qualified people who will provide a dignified funeral service with your desired blend of content. We can enlist the services of a civil celebrant or those of a secular humanist. Celebrants and clergy may charge fees which we will forward on your behalf. If a donation to a place of worship is agreed, we would not normally leave this to you and the officiant to arrange.

World religions

John Beattie & Sons provide funeral arrangements for all world religions including Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. We understand that faiths, traditions, rites and beliefs are very important and there are many different ways of celebrating lives lived. Consequently, managing funerals can vary significantly and we are able to draw on our considerable experience across this spectrum.

Roles for family and friends

You may wish to include other special people in the ceremony such as relatives or friends or others such as employers, colleagues or teachers, by asking them to deliver a reading or compose the eulogy, a tribute to the life of your loved one. Readings can also include poems or favourite passages from books as well as religious readings.

Event planning

From the most extravagant events to the simplest send-offs we can assist with unusual requests as well as the conventional.

Service sheets or tributes

John Beattie & Sons can also provide service sheets or tributes, usually 4, 8 or 12 page A5 booklets, that provide a running order, names of key contributors as well as words from hymns, songs or readings. It can also include photos of your loved one.

We also provide advice on digital presentations and slideshows.

Attendance cards

We also offer attendance cards to provide you with a record of who came to pay their respects. These are distributed to mourners and are commonly used to offer messages of comfort that, in some cases, they may not have felt up to doing in person. We can collect and collate these for you after the funeral. Charitable donations or collections can easily be taken on your behalf.

Distant friends and relatives

For families and friends who cannot attend, most crematoria – and many of our own service rooms - provide a weblink for live streaming. Subject to availability, we can commission a professional to record the whole funeral including the use of drones to follow the cortège route.


Music can lend a lot to the atmosphere on the day. We know families often like to personalise the funeral service by choosing special pieces of music. You can opt for church hymns or popular songs which carry meaning. Whatever you choose, we can liaise with the organist and, if it is in copyright, source the music. Click here for a list of popular music choices.

All crematoria have sound systems to play music and generally have the most commonly requested pieces, including popular, classical and religious. All chapels have an organ and an organist is usually on hand. They are able to source additional music, providing it is commercially available, although will need some notice. In the absence of specific requests, something appropriate will be played at the organist’s discretion. You could also consider live performers such as a choir or musicians. They will need to be booked in advance and performers do charge a fee.

Arrange a Funeral FAQs

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Is there a cost difference between a burial and cremation?

The choice varies depending on which part of the country you live in. Urban areas have good access to crematoria but burial ground spaces are increasingly limited. Conversely, rural areas have plenty ground but are further away from crematoria. The costs vary between the regions so call us to find out what the options are for your area of choice.

With coronavirus restrictions, my funeral will be private. Can you help with celebration arrangements at a later date?

We can assist with all elements of event planning for a funeral including celebrations after - whether they are on the same day or at later date. Whether you want a simple tribute or an extravagant memorial event, we're here to help you and your loved ones.

Are we limited to the number of cars?

As of July 2020, our entire fleet of limousines will be fitted with screens to comply with the social distancing restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic. This means you can have as many cars as you like, bearing in mind there may household limits set by the Government which will continually evolve. As these restrictions ease, we can explore coaches or other options for larger groups.

I am worried about thanking everyone who attends...

We can help. As there are limits on who can attend a funeral, we offer online obituaries where people can leave online tributes and messages of condolence. You can provide details about the funeral before or add messages of thanks after and then link from your own social media. In the future, when larger numbers are once again allowed, we can provide attendance cards for mourners to sign or leave a message of condolence. We collate them for you after the funeral so you can focus on saying goodbye.

How long should we keep the ashes?

There's no right or wrong answer. Retaining ashes is a very personal thing. Some people want to scatter them at a later date, others can't bear to part with them. We can help by providing practical storage advice and guiding you to make the decision that is most fitting for you and your family.

Can we take the flowers home after the funeral?

You can keep or leave, all or part, of any tribute just as you please. Often a memento is taken by family members or sometimes sprays can be donated to a church, hospice or nursing home. There is no "rule".