Flowers can be a very large expense at funerals. A traditional casket blanket of flowers or a standing floral display can cost many hundreds of dollars. If you’re planning a funeral, some money-saving ideas include using artificial flowers or having potted plants rather than cut and arranged flowers. Or skip the flowers entirely. My favorite is succulents. I have seen lovely casket toppers that didn’t use flowers at all, such as surrounding a framed photograph of the departed loved one with a wreath made from branches, ribbons, and even a favorite clothing item. I’ve seen this done with a skateboard and tennis shoes, and a cowboy could be celebrated by displaying his hat, boots, and lead rope.
For ornamental flair and color, top the casket with a homemade or special blanket. For deceased military veterans, obtain a flag from their branch of service, and cover the casket with it. Before burial, this can be folded and presented to the next of kin.
Another reason to avoid cut flowers is that they have a high environmental cost. Not only are many cut flowers imported from other countries (all those plane flights involve lots of greenhouse-gas emissions), but they are also laden with pesticides and are carted around in energy-guzzling refrigerated trucks and display cases. If you are a guest at a funeral, choose another way to honor the deceased than by sending an expensive floral arrangement that will, in a few days, only become landfill.
TIP: If you are planning a funeral, ask mourners to make donations to a favorite charity in honor of the deceased rather than send floral tributes. Or ask others to plant a tree, and so honor the person’s life by fostering more life.
Or, source locally grown flowers directly from a farmer-florist. (disclaimer: my partner has a certified organic flower farm in the Boston area.)
Certified Organic obviously severely limits the pesticides, but many local growers are "using organic methods" even if not certified, and since they're local you could ask them directly.
Local saves on transportation and keeps the money in your local economy.
You will be getting what is "in-season" at that time in your climate (a big reason why flowers are flown around the world), so in the Winter you might be out of luck, or only have one greenhouse grower to go to.
There are also flower donation services, that will take funeral flowers after the ceremony, and salvage them into new arrangements for people in need.
I have to admit - I love flowers, and I can never imagine me purchasing artificial flowers... but I do understand the issue with the massive bouquets of imported pesticide and preservative laden blooms...
At my uncle's funeral, one of the things I liked was that, instead of a bunch of bouquets, my grandmother bought large flowering rose bushes. The florist wrapped the base with fancy cloth and ribbon, and after the funeral, each of the siblings and my grandmother kept one or two of the rose bushes, and one was planted on the gravesite. That way everyone had one of my uncle's roses in their garden to remember him by. Maybe a december funeral could have pine trees, a summer funeral could have lilies, a fall funeral mums, etc?
At my grandfather's funeral, my great aunts gave my grandma an artificial arrangement she still has in her living room- somehow that feels morbid to me, but the living roses don't? Other relatives also sent a potted plant arrangement. Grandma kept it until it became overcrowded, then divided the plants up and gave some away. I still have one of them. Part of the issue with artificial flowers is you have to "throw them out" to get rid of them, which feels disrespectful somehow, and definitely not zero waste. A living plant you can just start to neglect, or give it away. My grandmother, at least, would have been really insulted if she didn't get flowers at the funerals, but was really pleased by the potted plants.
Everyone has been cremated so far, so no huge mountain of flowers on the casket like I have seen at other funerals - it's been a framed nice photo sitting with the urn, a slide show playing of a bunch of family photos of the deceased, and for grandpa, his paintings displayed on the wall...
Oh! And where my father grew up in europe, I've never been to a funeral, but little old ladies make an income sitting at the gates of the cemeteries with bundles of flowers, many cut from their own gardens. The tradition is to visit your family graves every week or so and lay down flowers, so they do a brisk business selling little posies for the equivalent of a few dollars.