On average, a funeral that includes a traditional burial and viewing costs almost $8,000, while cremation costs almost $7,000. This is a lot of money for many families, especially now that the cost of living has soared. If you're looking for affordable burials and cremations, you might wonder what the most expensive parts of a funeral are. Let's explore what elements you're paying for and how you can keep your costs reasonable.

What Is Typically the Most Expensive Part of a Funeral? 

Every funeral is unique, and the costs vary. People on a budget might be able to hold the entire ceremony for $3,000 or $4,000, while those who would like to throw a lavish party might spend $20,000 or more.

Typically, the most expensive part of a funeral is the fee charged by the funeral home, which includes a wide variety of services. You might also spend a lot on hiring a venue, especially if you have an extensive guest list. If you've opted for a traditional burial, the casket might cost several thousand dollars.

Funeral Home Costs 

Most funeral homes charge a basic service fee. At Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, our fee is currently $3,145. This covers the initial consultation with our funeral director, the coordination of all our services, the wages of our staff, and the overhead costs of maintaining our facility. Charging a fee allows us to provide you with smooth service and take much of the stress out of your experience.

We'll handle all the paperwork related to the funeral and burial, which means that you won't have to worry about getting local authorizations and permits. If you choose one of our burial or cremation packages, the funeral home fee might already be included. The best way to determine the exact cost of your loved one's funeral is to speak to us directly.

Hiring a Venue 

Although you might not feel like setting up a celebration of life after your relative has passed away, the funeral service is extremely important for the whole family. It allows everyone to say goodbye and start the grieving process. Every family has unique needs, so it's very hard to estimate how much the venue might cost.

Some people hold the celebration of life outside, in a public park or nature reserve, and scatter their loved one's ashes. In this case, there might be very few costs associated with the ceremony. However, many people hire a religious institution or event hall where the mourners can gather, eat something, and spend some time remembering their lost friend or relative. This can easily cost more than $1,000, especially if there are many guests.

The Cost of the Casket 

If you've chosen a traditional burial, the casket is your loved one's final resting place, so it's important to choose one that suits them. At Sunset Hills, a basic cardboard box costs just $95, but a more elaborate casket might set you back several thousands of dollars. Both wooden and metal caskets are available at various price points. They typically start at under $2,000, but the most expensive ones cost more than $5,000.

What Other Costs Are There? 

The funeral home fee, the venue, and the casket are the three biggest expenses that determine how much you'll spend on your funeral. However, there are some additional costs, which might add to your total. Some of them are optional, and others only apply to a very specific type of funeral. When you come for your initial consultation, we'll help you to figure out what kind of service you'd like and which of the following items you'll need.


Embalming is a process that preserves the deceased's body and prevents it from decaying. It involves injecting a preservative substance into the person's arteries, and it can only be done by a professional embalmer. If there is a viewing or if the body can't be buried right away, embalming might be necessary. It costs around $800-900.

The Urn

The urn is the container where the ashes of the deceased are kept. Families that have opted for a cremation will need to purchase one instead of a casket. Urns can either be put in a final resting place or kept by the family. How much they cost depends on the type of container and the material. Budget or compostable urns only cost $50-200, but a full-sized one made out of an expensive material might be over $2,000.

The Hearse

During the service, the body will need to be transported from the mortuary to the burial site. At most funeral homes, there are several options. We offer a utility vehicle, which costs just $125 and is therefore ideal for families who need affordable burial and cremations. There are also several other vehicles, including a 1947 Cadillac and a horse drawn hearse. These are available for $600.

The Officiant or Ceremony Leader 

Many families still opt for a traditional burial, which includes a eulogy and a religious service delivered by an officiant. Others hire a ceremony leader, who provides them with a non-religious service honoring the lost loved one.

Both types of services might last between 30 and 90 minutes. They typically involve readings, music, and speeches by family members. Costs range from $250 to $1,000, depending on the length of the service, the location, and the type of ceremony leader chosen.

Pamphlets and Materials

To make sure everyone knows about the upcoming funeral, you'll need to send out invitations. You might also want to provide attendees with a pamphlet, which gives them some more information about the ceremony, the songs, and the people involved.

Some families opt for permanent memorialization in the form of a video, photo book, or website about their loved one. These additional materials all come at a small cost, but they can be well worth it because they provide mourners with something tangible to remember their lost friend or relative by.

Affordable Burial and Cremations: How to Keep the Costs Down

The cost of a funeral can be very high, especially if the deceased is traditionally buried, and there are many mourners. Fortunately, there are several ways of keeping the costs reasonable.

By choosing cremation, opting for a graveside funeral, inviting a smaller number of people, and planning ahead, you can reduce some of the financial strain placed on the family. If you're concerned about the cost of our services, address this issue during the initial consultation. We can find individualized solutions that work for you.

Choose Cremation

Cremation is almost always significantly less expensive than a burial. You won't have to pay for a headstone, cemetery fees, grave site fees, casket, and embalming. It's also much easier to personalize a service that involves cremation because the ashes can be scattered anywhere in your community or kept by family members.

Unless there are religious or cultural reasons why cremation is unsuitable, it is the best way forward for families who would like to keep their costs reasonable. There is no land required, so it is also a much more environmentally friendly option.

Choose a Graveside Funeral 

When it comes to planning the ceremony, there are almost unlimited options. You can hold the funeral in a religious institution, hired hall, at someone's house, or in a public place. Because many venues are very expensive, families on a budget might want to opt for a graveside funeral. This is slightly shorter than a traditional ceremony, and it is held at the deceased person's final resting place.

Invite a Smaller Group of People 

If you don't believe that a graveside funeral would be right for your family, consider the number of people you're inviting. Were they all close to your deceased loved one? If you're holding both a religious service and a subsequent event with food and drinks, could you invite some attendees to the service only, and reserve the catered event for the closest people only? The fewer people you invite, the more budget-friendly the funeral will be.

Plan Ahead 

Have you ever thought about planning your own funeral? More and more Americans are taking matters into their own hands and reaching out to funeral homes while they are still around. This allows them to plan the ceremony according to their own wishes and pay for it upfront. As a result, their families don't have to make arrangements while they are in mourning.

Arranging your own funeral takes the financial pressure off your loved ones. This is important because it's often hard to access the deceased's funds in the weeks after their passing, so close relatives frequently have to bear the costs themselves.

The funeral home costs, the casket, and the venue are often the three most expensive parts of a funeral. Additionally, you might have to pay for embalming services, an urn, a hearse, an officiant, and pamphlets or materials related to the ceremony. Call us at Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary to find out more about our affordable burial and cremation services. Our funeral director will be happy to help you plan a ceremony that doesn't break the bank.