Who Walks in First at a Funeral? The Full Details

A funeral begins with a funeral procession, during which the officiant (person performing the ceremony), the deceased, and the mourners enter the church. The officiant enters first, along with anyone who will be present at the front of the church, such as the officiant’s assistant or the choir.

 

The First Person to Enter During a Funeral

The funeral procession is typically led by the officiant. If the officiant is joined by an assistant, they may also walk at the front of the procession.

In some instances, other individuals that will be at the front of the church, such as members of the choir, will follow directly behind the officiant and join him at the altar.

 

The Role of the Officiant at a Funeral

In addition to leading the funeral procession, the officiant is typically the person who leads the funeral.

The officiant can be anyone that you choose. If the funeral is a traditional religious service, the officiant will typically be a religious leader, such as a pastor or priest.

If the funeral is held at a funeral home, the funeral director can lead the funeral service, or a religious leader can be brought in. The officiant can also be a family member, friend, or another person of your choosing.

The officiant is responsible for:

  • Organizing the funeral service and determining the order of the service elements
  • Generally leading the service
  • Delivering the eulogy
  • Saying prayers or leading hymns
  • Providing information and support for attendees

Once the funeral is over, the officiant is also typically the first person to leave, as they lead the funeral recession.

 

The Other Individuals Involved in a Funeral Procession

The officiant is followed by the pallbearers and honorary pallbearers, who are responsible for carrying the casket and symbolically escorting the deceased.

The chief mourner(s) follow the pallbearers. The chief mourner(s) are usually the spouse, parents, or children of the deceased.  

The family members and close friends of the deceased then follow the chief mourners.

Then there are the people who walk behind the coffin which is explained in this article.

The order of the funeral procession is decided by the family members arranging the funeral. Family and friends who aren’t part of the funeral procession will already be in their seats when the funeral procession begins. 

 

Summary

The officiant is the first person to enter a funeral during a funeral procession. However, they do more than lead the funeral procession; the officiant is also responsible for leading the funeral service and setting the overall mood of the proceedings. Therefore, ensure that you choose carefully when selecting the officiant for your funeral.

 

Writer: Taylor Steed

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Sources

https://www.ftd.com/blog/celebrate/funeral-etiquette

https://emilypost.com/advice/funeral-etiquette-at-the-service/

https://www.everplans.com/articles/choosing-a-funeral-conductor-or-officiant-in-advance