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Everything You Need To Know About Funeral Flowers

Everything You Need To Know About Funeral Flowers

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you’ve been handed the task of choosing an arrangement for an upcoming funeral. This can be an overwhelming task, not to mention an emotionally charged one, since our society doesn’t often talk about funerals or death until we are forced to. And anyways, how does one choose an arrangement which appropriately pays homage to the life of a deceased loved one? Quite bluntly, there aren’t enough beautiful flowers in the world to do that. So we do the best we can. For centuries most of us have mourned with the help of mother nature’s own beautiful creation: flowers.

Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of funeral arrangements, what they are used for, how long they last, and what they most often symbolize.

Standard Arrangements

Arrangement is a broad category and, more simply, a general term for a freestanding floral arrangement. They’re not meant to be hung up or put on top of a casket.

The advantage of an arrangement is that it typically comes in a basket or paper mâché container which contains an oasis (green floral foam inside of which flowers are inserted and stay watered for a few days). Arrangements can easily be transported to a church or place of ceremony and will last for several days, as opposed to a wreath or wall-spray which won’t survive more than a day or two. In some cases, family members may want to take these pieces to the caretaker or the hospital where their loved one spent their last days. These arrangements can be quite colorful or monochromatic, traditional or very modern, and are generally large in size. They are typically purchased by co-workers, companies, friends and family.

Home Sympathy Arrangements

In some cases you may have missed the viewing or maybe you only recently found out that a close friend lost a relative in another country. In cases like this you may still want that person to know that you are thinking of them in their time of sorrow. The advantage of sending a home sympathy arrangement to a funeral home is that they’re small enough that the family can easily take it home after the service. Be aware that these pieces will likely be over shadowed by the larger, more traditional funeral pieces in a funeral home – but in a home they are just right.

Heart Arrangements

Heart arrangements are usually attached to a stand and rest upright. Many people use these to remember a child, military members, grandmothers, mothers, or a spouse lost too soon.

There are two types of heart arrangements: open hearts and solid hearts. Typically a solid heart will feature a solid white chrysanthemum base and feature a spray in the centre slightly to one side. An open heart will often feature a wider variety of assorted flowers. Heart arrangements tend to be pricier than traditional arrangements as the involve more labour and expertise due to their compact design.

Urn Arrangements

Urn arrangements are usually built to showcase and complement an urn. They can range from being a relatively small urn arrangement which surrounds the urn, to a larger, more intricate urn arrangement which winds and weaves into an artistic form.

As with casket sprays, there can only be one urn arrangement. So this is arrangement is ordered by the person in charge of planning the funeral.

It is important to know the dimensions of the urn and stand prior to ordering your arrangement. In some cases you may want the flowers to be completely behind the urn, or off to the side. Or you may want the urn in the centre of the arrangement. With proper dimensions, a florist can ensure the flowers cradle the urn nicely and that there aren’t gaps in the design of the arrangement.


Like the heart arrangement listed above, cross arrangements are attached to a stand so they rest upright. They typically signify faith and the religious commitment of the deceased loved one.

Crosses range in size from 24 inches all the way up to 42 inches. The base design is usually made up of chrysanthemums and features a spray in the centre. The contour of the cross typically either features ribbon or green leaves – but in some instances might only feature flowers. As with wreathes and hearts, crosses tend to be more expensive than standard arrangements due to the labor and expertise required to make them as beautiful as possible. The most popular colours in the Montreal area are red and white.


Funeral wall-sprays are often purchased by families or groups.

Wall-sprays are popular for their size. They tend to be quite showy as they must be hung on a stand in the funeral home or church above all the other arrangements which are typically arranged on the floor. You do not see the base of a wall spray as you see the bass of a standard arrangement because they are, in essence, a double-sided arrangement. As with all funeral floral arrangements, wall-sprays can be very colourful or monochromatic, traditional or modern. They are not meant to be taken home after a funeral service.


One of the more recognizable types of funeral arrangements, the wreath rests upright on a stand like the heart, cross, and wall-spray arrangements.

Wreaths range in size from 22 inches all the way to 40 inches in diameter. They are typically chosen by color first, then by flower selection. The more traditional wreaths will feature chrysanthemums and carnations as the base since these are the least expensive flowers. The larger sizes will tend to have more varieties of flowers. Wreaths require more labour and expertise, making them pricier than other funeral floral arrangements equivalent in size. Since the flowers are placed in a foam backing, they will typically only last for a few days.

Casket Sprays

Typically chosen by the individual(s) planning the funeral, casket sprays rest on top of the casket.

*** Please plan the purchase of a casket spray with your family members as there can only be one casket spray. Usually the closest person to the deceased orders the casket-spray. Ex: The husband or wife or mother or father, or son or daughter.

Casket sprays are typically very large. In most cases covering half of the casket. In the case of a closed casket, a spray can typically cover 3/4 or more, if desired. The flowers of the casket-spray are chosen to represent the loved-one in colour and style. It is not necessary to add a banner to the spray. If you do decide to add a banner, you might personalize it as in this example: Instead of signing off as ‘your husband’ or ‘your wife’, you may wish to use the nickname they used to call you.

“I don’t like any of these.

They don’t represent my loved one.”

Not to worry. Many floral shops will offer customized arrangements. As an example, let’s say your loved one was an avid musician. A florist who specializes in funeral arrangements is often willing to build a custom piece, like this guitar. Be sure to ask.

Or perhaps it’s not necessarily the shape of the arrangement but the flowers within the arrangement that just aren’t right. Let’s say your loved one was a fan of babies breath, something florists typically use as a filler flower and less as a stand-alone flower. Let’s say a heart shaped arrangement sounds like the right start, but instead of filling it with roses or large flowers you want the entire heart covered in babies breath. Something like this can easily be arranged.

Remember: In the floral industry, everything is handmade. Colors and flowers can easily be exchanged to fit your needs.

Custom Arrangements


Saving Money

Funeral floral arrangements can be pricey. Some flowers can make an arrangement more expensive than necessary. You can get a very decent sized arrangement with a selection of carnations, chrysanthemums and gladiolas.
Another tip is to share the cost of a larger arrangement, like a wall-spray with other members of the family or close friends.
A long-lasting way to save money and give back is to send a plant instead of an arrangement, as it can be transplanted into a garden or simply stay indoors as a constant reminder that you are thinking of them.

Flower Substitutions

Some flowers are significantly more costly than others. Ranunculus are more expensive than roses, for example. Sometimes you can substitute a less expensive, but similar looking flower, in your arrangements. Any well-versed designer will be able to help you in this situation. Sometimes certain flowers are simply not in season

“I still don’t know where to start.

I’m even more overwhelmed now.”

We understand. Joseph’s advice is to start with these three things:
1. Budget – How much are you willing to spend?
2. Style – Do you like over-the-top arrangements, or simple arrangements?
3. Color – Typically for an older person that had a long and happy life, you may want to choose something on the more colorful side. In the case of a tragic death or the death of a young person or child, you might want to stick with mostly whites, or very pale, soft colors.

Joseph, co-owner here at Le Bouquet is our leading funeral specialist. With over 25 years experience, he’s helped guide people just like you through the process or choosing funeral flower arrangements with empathy and understanding. If you’re lost and don’t know where to go, come visit him in the shop. He’s in most days, but if you want to set up an appointment to meet with him personally, give us a call. 514-747-2581

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