It happens to us all at some point in our life. We have to pick out flowers for a loved one's service. Whether it be a parent or spouse, it is usually something we do not think about until it happens to us.
Hopefully this will help answer any questions when you find yourself in this situation.
What do you need to order? It depends on what type of services you are having and your relationship to the deceased. If you are the spouse, son, daughter, or immediate living next of kin (brother, sister)
then the flowers for the casket or urn are most likely your responsibility.
There are flowers for caskets, whether they are open or closed. Casket sprays come in "half casket" and "full casket" sizes. "Half" is 3' miniumum in length, is usually ordered to be placed on the lower half of the casket during family and friend visitation hours, then moved to the center during services at the church or graveside. "Full" is typically 5'-6' in length, to cover most of the casket lid, and is ordered when the casket is remaining closed for all visitations and services. Casket Sprays are designed in "casket saddles", the saddles come from various manufacturers and are made to sit on top of the casket, not slip, and be easy to transport.
Military- If there is a flag on the casket- you do not place flowers on the flag or casket. Standing flower easel sprays to be at either side or both sides are ordered.
Infant/Child- Have your florist contact the funeral home directly to obtain measurements. Infant and Children's coffins are relative to the age of the child, and will not require the same size flower arrangement/casket spray. (There was one occasion where it was a still-born infant and the casket was the size of a shoebox. I donated the flower accent for the "casket" out of pure empathy for the mother, I have two small children and those are the orders that always make me cry and hug my two just a little closer every night)
Double Caskets / Couples casket- Again, have your florist contact the funeral home directly for measurements. Usually this style of casket will require a "Full" casket saddle to achieve proper width, not necessarily to achieve length. Again, this style is unusual but I did design a casket spray for a couple that died in a fire and wished to be buried together.
Until I took a back door tour of a funeral home in 2001, I had no idea that "urns" came in every shape, size, color, and composition imaginable. Most "urns" look nothing like an urn vase. The most popular cremation urn is actually a very nice square wooden container, sometimes with an engraved plate on the front or top. No matter what style of urn you decide on, there are many things to consider when ordering flowers.
Size: What is the shape and color? Dimensions? Will it be on any type of pedestal or just be placed on a small table. Table dimensions?
Style: Do you want flowers on either side of the urn (aka bookend style) ?
or all around?
Another option is for families to place pictures of their loved one surrounding the urn on a table, with one or two vases of flowers as an accent.
There are many other options to help personalize the flowers for either the casket or urn, or even a memorial service which has neither casket or urn. I have incorporated sports flags, golf clubs, baseball bats, fishing rods, etc into casket and standing sprays.
I have hand carved Oasis floral foam into the shape of a dog, a tattoo gun, and acronyms. These items add a personal touch that is comforting to the family of the loved one.
A Note about Flower Availability
While we strive to meet every request to create beautiful flower arrangements and tributes, regrettably time is often not on our side. Tulips go out of season, Flooding happens and wipes out crops in South America, Lilies continue to be stubborn and take 2-5 days to fully open some weeks. Death comes for every one, and rarely do you have advance warning. We too are not able to predict death and when we will need lilies to be open, tulips to bloom, etc. When this happens, we try our very best to find adequate substitute flowers, either in the same style, shape, or color family.