The Etiquette of Funeral & Sympathy Flowers

By May Flowers

Choosing flowers for a funeral after someone passes away isn’t easy and many people struggle when deciding what to send. We believe that there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to sending flowers. Try giving something from the heart and expresses your condolences to those closest to the departed. 

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers that we've compiled to help you understand the process of ordering flowers.

Funeral flowers vs. Sympathy flowers

Funeral flowers are larger arrangements sent directly to the visitations, ceremonies, and/or memorials. Often in a spacious setting, this sizable arrangement is more fitting and more noticeable. Some pieces such as the casket spray should be ordered only by close family.

Meanwhile sympathy flowers are smaller arrangements given directly to the family, to help with their grieving process. 

How much should I spend?

The larger arrangements for visitations and ceremonies typically start around $150. Smaller arrangements may get lost in a room full of large floral pieces and people. That being said, we believe the sentiment is what is most important and any size arrangement will be most appreciated by the family. 

What type of arrangement should I send?

More common arrangements are stand-alone pieces such as baskets, wreaths and standing sprays. These pieces will make their way directly to the memorial service or funeral home. 

The subtler, more personal, arrangements can be placed in a vase or small basket. These are great for the family to bring home and reminiscence.

Is it ever too late to send flowers?

Not at all! In some cases, people don’t find out about the passing or the funeral date until it’s already passed. Sending flowers after this period of time often reminds the family of the departed,“We’re still thinking of you.”

What should I write on the card?

A brief note of sympathy is always appropriated. We encourage thoughtful and personalized messages, however, we understand that sometimes there’s a loss for words.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
  • Please accept our deepest sympathy.
  • We are thinking of you in knowing how much [name of the departed] was respected and loved.
  • We will always remember (name of departed) for…
  • He/she will remain in our hearts forever.

Are there certain types of flowers or colours that are not appropriate to send?

Every flower, when tastefully arranged, is appropriate for expressing condolences. A funeral service is about gaining closure following death but it’s also about celebrating a person’s life and honouring their place in this world. Selecting colourful and vibrant flowers are appropriate to showcase their spirit. This will add a cheerful note to an otherwise somber occasion.

The obituary says "In lieu of funeral flowers," but can I still send flowers – is this appropriate?

Sometimes the family asks for a charitable donation "in lieu of flowers" and if you've already made the contributions, you can also send flowers. Your donation will honor the family's wishes while the flowers will be appreciated as it add beauty and life to a somber event.

What can I do to make my floral arrangement unique or special from the rest?

To make your floral tribute particularly special and unique, ask your florist to create an arrangement that fits the departed's personality. You could include his or her favorite flowers or colors, or a flower that had special significance in your relationship with that person. Whatever you do, the family is certain to appreciate the extra thought and effort you put into it.


May Flowers’ approach to funeral and sympathy flowers is driven by our first hand experience that flowers can have a positive impact on people’s lives and remain one of the most beautiful ways to express our condolences when words cannot. 

We are passionate about leaving lasting impressions through unique floral pieces. Our designers read each order carefully, and create unique pieces with different stories. We like to incorporate personalities about the individual whether it’s a specific colour or flower, clippings from the home garden, or including personal items that are special to your family. 

If you have any questions or would like to place an order directly with us, please give us a call at (416) 546-4820.

Hope all of the above was useful, if you have more questions we're here to help!