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September 27, 2019 Beyond The Dash

Bouquets or Sprays: Choosing the Right Sympathy Arrangement

The comprehensive funeral flower guide

Bouquets or Sprays: Choosing the Right Sympathy Arrangement
What type of arrangement should you choose to express your sympathy? (Unsplash/Charlie Harukata)

You've decided to express your sympathy with flowers. You've thoughtfully chosen the types of flowers that will best express your condolences after reading Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings. Now you need to figure out what type of arrangement best suits the occasion, and where to send it. Use this guide to determine the best form and destination for your condolence arrangement. 


A bouquet of flowers is a thoughtful and simple gift to present to a grieving family at the funeral service. Bouquets can be impactful whether they are small and basic or large and ornate. Even if you have a limited budget, it's a kind gesture to bring or send flowers when a loss has occurred. 

Recommended: FTD Always Remembered Bouquet

Bouquets are a simple and budget-friendly option for expressing your sympathy with flowers. (Getty Images)

Potted plants and trees

Living plants have become a popular way to celebrate the life of a deceased person. Be sure the family will appreciate this gesture before sending a potted arrangement, since some people believe celebrating life at a funeral can be disrespectful. Also keep in mind that a large potted arrangement may be an inconvenience to transport home from the funeral venue if it is very heavy or bulky. 

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When a death has occurred, it can be very comforting to be reminded that life goes on. A living potted plant may be the perfect life-affirming arrangement to keep grieving loved ones cheerful and thinking of the future with optimism.  

Recommended: Peach Tribute Garden 

With the current strong attention drawn to climate change, many people are placing a higher value on environmental statements. If the departed had shown support for or was engaged in environmental activities, planting a tree in their honor is a lasting way to show respect.

Many local and regional online papers offer the option to plant a tree in memorial — ask your local paper if they offer such an option. 

Standing sprays, wreaths or casket arrangements 

Standing sprays, wreaths and casket arrangements are part of a traditional funeral service. They are usually selected by the family member responsible for organizing the funeral, or entrusted to a funeral director. Only those close family and friends who are involved in planning  the funeral service should purchase these types of floral arrangements. It may be considered presumptuous or overbearing to select a large, showy standing spray arrangement if you are not directly involved in the service. 

Unless you are helping plan the funeral, don't send casket flowers or sprays to the funeral home as a token of your condolences. A bouquet is a better gift at this time. (Unsplash/Rhodi Lopez)

If the family has not planned for a standing spray, wreath or casket arrangement for the service, offering to supply the funeral flowers could be a generous way to pay respects. 

Recommended: Celebration of Life Standing Spray 

Where to send sympathy arrangements 

All families process a loss differently, and some might have particular wishes. Respect them. Be sure to find out if there are any specific religious considerations before sending an arrangement. 

Some prefer flowers to be sent either to the funeral home or place of worship. Sometimes sending flowers directly to the home of the deceased person, or to the most immediate family member is the preference. Find out the family's wishes, either by asking directly or consulting someone close to them, and be sure to send the correct arrangement for the occasion. 

If no preference is indicated by the family, taking a bouquet of white lilies to the funeral personally is considered appropriate. Having an arrangement delivered to the person you are thinking of is also a thoughtful way to express condolences when you can't attend the funeral in person.  

When in doubt, send flowers. Loved ones will appreciate a thoughtful gesture when grieving a loss, big or small. Letting them know you are thinking of them could bring light to a family on a dark day.

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