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How Long Do Funerals Last? [+ Length of Different Types]

Funerals typically last 30 minutes to an hour – although services can go longer depending on the type of funeral, length of any eulogies, number of people in attendance, who is officiating the ceremony, and the religious and traditional customs observed. 

Of course, this applies to typical funerals at a traditional funeral home or church. But what about other types of funerals? Are Catholic funerals the same? What about a cremation service?

I spoke to 27 funeral providers across different states, cultures, and religions to get the answers. 

If you want to skip ahead and find the answer for the specific type of funeral you are expecting to attend – feel free to use the table of contents below.

Otherwise, read on for the only article you will ever need to answer the question: How long do funerals last?


How Long Is An Average Funeral Service?

As mentioned above, a funeral usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes. This is the case regardless of whether the body will be buried or cremated.

Based on how long funerals are from when I’ve attended them myself, I already suspected this was the case. Almost every Christian funeral director or home I spoke to confirmed it. 

This is certainly the “industry average.” For most people, it is more than enough time to say their final goodbyes. 

In the same way doctors split their days into 15-minute blocks, funeral homes use one-hour periods when planning their daily funeral service schedule. Some of that time includes preparation and leeway in case a funeral runs overtime. 

This is enough time to allow for the funeral procession, eulogies, hymns, prayers, and readings, led by a celebrant. 

Related Article: How To Write a Eulogy: Tips, Structure, & Examples [Guide]

funeral service pennsylvania

According to Glennys Howarth, author of Last Rites: The Work of the Modern Funeral Director, the time guests will be sat at the service itself is usually half an hour.

In rare cases, a funeral ceremony might last less than 20 minutes. This is more common at non-religious funerals, where hymns and prayers are unlikely to be included as part of the program. Or with burial, where the body needs to be carried by pallbearers to the hearse following the service.

In even rarer cases, funeral services will last longer than an hour. Other than cases where a celebrant is running late (it does happen), this usually occurs when the deceased’s family has specific requests or when a graveside service is planned.

Any funeral that lasts longer than an hour will cost more, as more than one standard time slot will be required.

It is important to know that all these estimates only relate to the funeral itself. 

When people refer to a “funeral,” they often mean more than just the “funeral service.” They could also be referring to a viewing held before the service, a reception held after the service, or a memorial service held in its place.

How Long Do Viewings Last?

Typically, viewings are drop-in events that last for several hours, but the amount of time a person will spend at the viewing to see the body and pay their respects is likely to be closer to 10 to 20 minutes.

Viewings are a less formal event than a funeral. Sometimes they are held at the deceased’s family’s home. However, more commonly, they are held at the funeral home immediately before the funeral service. In this case, you should allow yourself more time so you don’t have to unexpectedly leave the funeral service early – which is embarrassing for all involved.

Budget Extra Time for the Burial

Chad Keefe of Keefe Funeral Home suggests that if a graveside service is planned and an interment forms part of the funeral, you can expect the service to take an additional 5 – 15 minutes. 

This allows time for the procession to carry the body to the burial site and for the body to be buried.

Post-Funeral Reception

Following the funeral service or interment, the deceased’s family or friends might hold a reception for people to attend. This is an opportunity to celebrate the life of the deceased. 

A post-funeral reception usually lasts for 1 to 2 hours. However, the length of time will vary depending on the purpose of the reception and the traditions and rituals the family intends to uphold.

How Long Do Memorial Services Take?

A typical memorial service lasts about an hour, but this can vary based on the event’s itinerary. If a significant number of people intend to speak at the memorial, its length will likely be longer. Smaller memorial events without the deceased’s body present may last only 20 minutes.

Memorial services differ from funeral services in that they are ceremonies held without the remains to honor the life of the deceased. They are usually hosted by a family member, close friend, or religious leader. 

How Long Do Other Types of Funerals Last?

Above, I have limited myself to typical funerals at a traditional funeral home. However, many different religions and cultures have their own customs and practices.

How long is a Catholic funeral mass?

catholic funeral

According to Pastor Fr. Eric Peters of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, a Catholic funeral with a requiem mass will last from 45 minutes to an hour or more. This allows time for introductory rites, scripture readings, prayers, and concluding rites. The service may last longer if there are many guests.

Catholic funerals are usually longer than other Christian funerals because they are more elaborate. Even a simple Catholic service can include songs, liturgy, a final commendation, and usually a rosary ceremony.

Not every Catholic funeral will have a mass. In that case, you can expect the funeral to last closer to 40 minutes.

How long are Muslim funeral services?

According to Rahma Islamic Funeral home, Muslim funeral services are typically 30 to 60 minutes long. However, this can vary depending on the region of the world they are held in and the traditions of the deceased’s loved ones. Muslim funerals are usually shorter than other religious funerals because they don’t include eulogies.

At a typical Muslim funeral in the USA, you can expect a short prayer service and a reading from the Quran before the burial takes place. At the service, an Imam will lead prayers for peace over the deceased.

How Long Does a Jewish Funeral Last?

Typically, Jewish funeral services last for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the denomination. This allows time for common traditions, including reciting Psalm 23, a funeral procession, a eulogy (known as hespeid), readings from the Torah, and silent prayers. Jewish funerals typically conclude with a burial service that lasts 10 to 15 minutes.

jewish burial shroud and prayer shawl

In Orthodox Judaism, a Jewish funeral is usually 45 to 60 minutes. Reform Judaism will vary based on the rabbi’s style and how many people attend the funeral service.

How Long Does A Buddhist Funeral Last?

According to cultural mediator Jennifer Huong, a Buddhist funeral service lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. However, this is preceded by a period of mourning lasting up to a week. The service itself may go longer depending on the bereaved family’s preferences and to allow time for the cremation of the deceased’s body.

The ceremony is typically held outdoors in front of a temple or other building that symbolizes Buddha’s teachings and may be followed by a vegetarian meal with close friends and relatives that lasts up to two hours. Buddhist funerals do not always take place at a funeral home.

How Long Are Cremation Services?

cremation service usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, similar to a traditional funeral with a burial. The amount of time will vary depending on the exact type of ceremony and associated traditions expected to be performed at the funeral.

cremation chamber

The actual duration can also depend on whether or not the deceased’s loved ones intend to scatter the ashes outside as part of the service.

Factors and Components That Affect the Length of a Funeral

Many factors affect how long the funeral will last. Some include the deceased’s religious beliefs, the number of people in attendance, the budget, and the family’s wishes:

Cultural and Religious Traditions

Every culture and religion has different traditions and rites that can affect the length of a funeral service. As a rule of thumb, religious services last longer than non-religious funerals.

For example, while a typical Christian funeral ceremony may last 30 to 60 minutes, a Buddhist funeral service that includes meditation, songs, and chanting may be much longer. Other religious funerals, such as Hindu funerals (sometimes known as Terahvin), can be shorter.

The length of the ceremony is highly dependent on how long it takes to complete the service in accordance with each tradition or religious rite.

The Number of People In Attendance

The number of people who attend a funeral will also affect the length of the service.

funeral with hundreds of attendees

For example, if there are just a few people, it may be a shorter 30-minute service. However, if there are more people in attendance, it can take much longer to conduct the service because attendees will need time to settle in and pay their respects.

The Allocated Budget

Naturally, a longer funeral service is likely to be more expensive than a shorter one. If you attend a lower-budget service, you can expect it to run on the lower end of the time estimates outlined in this post.

When planning a funeral, discussing with the funeral director or celebrant what is included in their fees is essential before you book any services. Most funeral homes will charge extra fees if they run over time.

Wishes Of the Deceased

Whether it be the wishes of the deceased or their loved ones, the length of the funeral will ultimately rest in their hands. Along with traditional rites, they may have requested that specific songs be played, poems or prayers be read, or their funeral be held in a location that necessarily causes the service to run longer.

The Bottom Line

Attending a funeral can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know what to expect.

However, as long as you are respectful, arrive before the service begins, and ensure you have allocated enough time to stay for the entire funeral service, you shouldn’t have a problem.

If you have any further questions about how long different types of funerals last, or anything else beyond life, please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.

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James Peacock
James Peacock
Hey, I'm James, the founder of After Your Time. I'm a lawyer specializing in trusts, wills, and estates. I help clients dealing with death everyday, and I hope the content on our site can do something similar for you.
James Peacock
James Peacock
Hey, I'm James, the founder of After Your Time. I'm a lawyer specializing in trusts, wills, and estates. I help clients dealing with death everyday, and I hope the content on our site can do something similar for you.

Community Questions and Feedback:

2 Responses

    1. Hi Kim. Thank you for your comment. For a Christian funeral in Australia we understand they last for around the same time as as in the USA: Around 40 minutes. However, it would be a good idea to call the funeral home and ask if you are concerned.

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