Funeral Planning

Funeral casket decorated with flowers
••• DarrenMower / Getty Images

When people dream of becoming an event planner, they probably have visions of lavishly layered cakes and opulent grand hotels. Congregations of grieving mourners might not seem as likely, but a changing law in Florida reveals a new opportunity for event planners: getting into funeral planning.

As of 2010, state law in Florida no longer requires funeral directors to be embalmers. This change in the law means any event management company can help make funeral arrangements. If you’re located in Florida and want to investigate a new opportunity, or you live elsewhere and want to be prepared in case your state follows suit, here are some tips and reasons for getting into funeral planning.

Reasons to Switch to Funeral Planning

A lot of us get into event management because we like to help, making stressful times easier and more pleasant for our customers. Funeral planning is a perfect opportunity to be helpful when people need it the most. It’s not as grim as it sounds, as a lot of modern funerals choose to celebrate life rather than weep and mourn. It’s not as far of a stretch for an event planner, not being that different from a wedding, except you might only have two days to get it together, instead of six months.

Other Reasons for Getting Into Funeral Planning

  • Being Helpful - As stated above, a lot of people get into event management to be helpful. Families and loved ones are vulnerable during funerals, and they really need and appreciate great help!
  • Opulence - If you’ve grown tired of hosting bland corporate PowerPoint presentations, planning a funeral may be a chance to work on something more elegant and refined. Maybe you just like deep, rich wood and stately floral arrangements, but it can’t be bad for your portfolio, as well.
  • Philosophical Perspective - You have to know darkness to appreciate the light. You have to understand pain to relish beauty. Death is the shadow of life, and it could be said that a whole microcosm of life happens in the shadow of death. While it’s more of an abstract concept, the philosophical depths of working with grieving families cannot be overstated.
  • Real Talk - When so much of life hinges on shallow and superficial pursuits—chasing promotions and trying to impress—people become more interested in the real and the immediate when faced with death. People like to laugh, cry, and tell stories. Being an event planner means being interested in people, and they’re at their most interesting when confronted with grief.
  • High Ticket Price - Without appearing uncouth, funerals are not inexpensive. They can be some of the most expensive moments of our lives, ironically enough, on par with a small wedding. Being a funeral planner can be quite lucrative, with an average salary of $53,540 annually.

Getting Into Funeral Planning

Planning a funeral is not that different from any other kind of event management. There are reservations to be made, guest lists to be attended to, color themes to pick out, delicious food to procure. Many event planners already possess the necessary skills to be excellent funeral planners, which is another great reason to consider getting into funeral planning.

Bradley Loomis, assistant director of the school of hospitality management at UCF Rosen College, claims that funeral directors have been recruiting at four out of the last five job fairs, indicating there must be an urgent need for fledgling funeral planners. Here are some other useful skills for funeral planners:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Enjoying fast-paced and demanding work
  • Great people skills
  • The ability to tell a story

Is a Career in Event and Wedding Planning Right For You?

Start by doing a self-assessment of your core values, how you like to work (9-5pm vs. evenings and weekends, for example), your abilities, and your skills (like interpersonal and communication skills). In addition to interpersonal and communication skills, here are 3 must-have skills needed to be successful as an event and wedding planner:

  1. Business Knowledge - having the ability to know and understand business jargon is the difference between running small, local events or running large, high budget events. To work on your business acumen, register for business classes at your local college and put yourself in situations where you have to make quick and effective decisions.
  2. Project Management - the best way for a new event planner to learn is to find an event mentor and get involved in industry associations.
  3. Emotional Intelligence - as an event and wedding planner, it's critical that you know how to manage your own emotions so you can adjust to change, work better in teams and are more flexible.