funeral flowers etiquette?
February 1, 2009 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I've never sent flowers for a funeral before and am at a loss as to what to do. Bonus points for Modesto, CA florist recommendations.

My aunt passed away and the viewing/funeral are on Thursday/Friday this week. I have a couple of questions:
- my dad has asked me to send flowers on behalf of my brothers and myself. I have no idea what's appropriate to send or how much to spend. Wreath? Spray on an easel? Bouquet? And, I was thinking around $100 - $150. Too much? too little?
- since the viewing and funeral are at the same location, it takes away the uncertainty of where to send the flowers... but I assume I should send them so that the flowers are there before the viewing starts?
- our families weren't close; I probably hadn't seen her for ~15 years, and her husband and kids for even longer (~20-25 years). I'm at a loss of what to say.
- I've heard it's always better to go with a local florist than, say, FTD. if you can, please recommend a florist in Modesto, CA. I searched a bit online, but the reviews seem to be bogus/planted.
Thanks in advance.
posted by j to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There will most likely be all sorts of flowers at the funeral (unless it's of a total recluse); some of them will be very expensive indeed and others will be more modest.

At my father's funeral one of my friends sent a small arrangement of off-white flowers which cost about $50. I know this because she knew me but not my father, and took me to the florist, and insisted that I pick something in that price range. This was in 1995.

"I'm sorry for your loss" always works at a funeral as a general expression of sympathy.

Do send the flowers before the viewing starts, if at all possible. They'll most likely be grouped in the lobby; people will arrive for the funeral, look at the flowers while waiting, and most likely stay for the funeral, not paying much attention to the flowers again afterwards (usually then it's talking: people who haven't seen each other for years trying to catch up).
posted by johnofjack at 1:18 PM on February 1, 2009

FTD has always worked for me, they'll contact a local to do the job, you'll get more consistent service.

You'll probably need to spend at least $60 or so for most anything... the more you spend, the more you get, that simple.

Yes, send them prior to the viewing if at all possible.

The alternative is to see if the family is requesting donations to a charity instead of flowers. If so, go that route, it is much more meaningful in the long run...
posted by HuronBob at 1:18 PM on February 1, 2009

Ah ... arrive for the viewing, some will go on to the funeral....
posted by johnofjack at 1:18 PM on February 1, 2009

I would just do a yellow pages search for all florists there, find one that looks reputable, call and have them deliver the flowers - alternatively, you can call the funeral parlor or modesto tourism bureau, etc. and get their recommendation.

Yes send them before the viewing starts - the folks who work there will set them up

Miss Manners says that you should write "We are so sorry for your loss" - you could send a card to their home address as well which says the same, plus something personal about you/your brothers/your dad and your aunt.

I am sorry for your loss.

I was so overwhelmed trying to send flowers the first time I did this, as well.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 1:20 PM on February 1, 2009

The funeral home will be able to recommend a local florist that they find to be reliable and that they regularly work with. Using the florist will make everything straight forward and fairly easy for you (e.g. there is no chance that the florist will be unfamiliar with the neighborhood of the funeral home and get lost). The funeral home should also be willing to indicate what the more or less standard style is for an arrangement is and how large such arrangements generally are. The florist might also be willing to tell you what everyone else is doing (some will, some won't, it varies).

I've done this before (used the suggested florist) and it seems to work out alright.
posted by oddman at 1:29 PM on February 1, 2009

This is what you do: (I work for a florist:)

Call and talk to them. Your price range is fine: Funeral sprays (the thing on the easel, not the spray on the casket) go for 75 bucks on up to over 200. The more expensive ones have the more expensive flowers-again, talk to the florist you use for details. Since you are a family member I would go with a spray instead of a basket or arrangement but that really is personal preference. On the spray you might want to add what we call a ribbon-this would be like a sash with lettering in gold saying something along the lines of "beloved aunt" or whatever you wish to say (of course this message would need to be much shorter than a card message-again your florist will help you.) We charge ten bucks extra for a ribbon at our shop.

As for timing-call the florist, have them confirm the viewing time and deliver the flowers approximately one hour or so before the funeral. (Most funeral homes won't accept them any earlier: even if you were to mistakenly order the flowers to be sent earlier in the week it is common practice to call and check with the funeral home-or scan the obits and check that way-to make sure they don't get a refused delivery.) I would go ahead and speak to your florist tomorrow-they will want to make sure they have the flower inventory on hand to get your arrangement done-and please remember we are heading into the valentine's day season and some wholesalers might already be increasing prices (which could possibly affect their quotes to you.)

If you trust the florist give them your budget and ask for designer's choice on the flowers-you cans still mandate types of flowers and /or colors if you wish. And you can go online and see who has websites, which may give you some ideas for what you want. You can and probably should ask if you can speak directly to a floral designer if you have specific questions.

Even if you see an FTD or TEleflora example you like you can have them modify it for you. And you are doing the right thing by skipping FTD and such. All that does is add an extra 6.95 or so to your order because a lot of times unless there is a real relationship between two florist shops in two locations, the florist selection can be random. But I would choose an FTD/TEleflora/Bloomlink approved florist anyway because these companies do have some standards for who they include.

PM me if you have specific questions....and I am sorry for your loss.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:43 PM on February 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

OOps-I meant an hour before the VIEWING up there. Husband was talking while I was typing...arg....if i didn't make it plain, you have the flowers delivered directly to the funeral home.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:44 PM on February 1, 2009

(If you want to order a funeral basket, these are very nice as well and cheaper than a spray. Ours start at 50. ) And it is an excellent suggestion to ask the funeral home to recommend a florist-they see it all and will know who is good and who isn't.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2009

If you know anything about her likes -- favorite color, favorite flower, even birth month flower or color (sorry about the obnoxious ad on that page - best I could find) -- it might be a nice touch to include something like that, if it's practical and makes a good cut arrangement.
posted by amtho at 2:06 PM on February 1, 2009

I've used Oopsa Daisy in Modesto and they were great. And my cousin in Turlock uses them all the time. Nice folks. Ridiculous website here. Just call 'em: (209) 523-1839
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:12 PM on February 1, 2009

I'm sorry for your loss, ditto to what oddman said.

At the funeral home where I work, we have a list of area florists that are reliable and give decent value.

As to the question of timing, we often receive flowers several hours before the visitation, but once it has begun, we won't disrupt things to bring more flowers into the room unless the family asks us to. Most florists will call and ask for visitation times, sometimes before the family has even finalised arrangements.
posted by cpdavy at 4:16 PM on February 1, 2009

Thanks everyone. I appreciate the comments and thoughts. I hadn't thought to call the funeral home and will do that tomorrow. I'll also check and see if they know if the family would prefer donations instead of flowers. Thanks again.
posted by j at 6:43 PM on February 1, 2009

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