Can you record/ video a funeral service? June 25, 2024

In some situations, if family members live abroad for example, we are asked if it is permissible to record a funeral service, or live-stream it on a mobile phone. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the wishes of the family, the policies of the venue, and local laws. However, in a post-pandemic age, most churches or crematoria offer the service themselves.

 

If the venue offers live-streaming or recording as a service:

In these instances, the recording of a funeral is offered as a service to be purchased and no private recording would be allowed. Most facilities now have a camera at the back of the chapel so you can see the coffin enter, the lectern, the screen for any video messages, and the person leading the service. You will see the back of people’s heads but not their faces – it’s a public venue and certain guidelines have to be followed. People have the right to privacy if they haven’t given consent to be recorded. This includes the restriction of all recording outside the venue which also ensures the privacy of mourners visiting graves that are unconnected to the funeral in question.

Whilst available to watch live, a copy of any webcast recorded by the venue will also be available to keep (usually as part of the booking fee) and a link will be provided that can be shared to allow viewings at a later date. This is particularly useful for relatives overseas who are unable to access livestreaming services. Some venues will also provide a copy of the webcast on a memory-stick which can be presented in a giftbox.

Whilst most venues are now able to stream a funeral, some older buildings – or those with poor signal – can not.

 

If the venue doesn’t offer a recording service:

Filming a funeral service privately raises sufficient legal and ethical considerations that most people decide against it. However, from a legal standpoint, recording a funeral in a private setting may be accepted as long as special permission has been granted by the venue, guests, speakers and all other key parties. Without everyone’s written consent, it is illegal, and no one unconnected to the funeral in question can have their face recorded. Add to that, it can be ethically questionable. Funerals are a deeply personal event and the presence of a recording device might seem intrusive, so it is important to respect the preferences of all attendees – and in all instances the families wishes take precedence.

If the decision is made to record the funeral privately, several practical steps should be taken to ensure it is done respectfully and unobtrusively:

 

  1. Seek Permission: Always obtain explicit consent from all family and key parties, and inform attendees that the service will be recorded in advance.
  2. Discreet Setup: Use a discreet setup for the recording equipment to avoid disrupting the service. Small, unobtrusive cameras and microphones are preferable.
  3. Professional Help: Consider hiring a professional videographer who has experience with such sensitive events. They can ensure the recording is done respectfully, with high quality, and doesn’t breach any privacy laws.
  4. Respect Venue Rules: Check with the funeral home or place of worship about their policies on recording. Many venues will have specific rules or restrictions.

 

In conclusion, most funeral venues now offer a discreet live-streaming service which ensures all key elements of the service can be seen, whilst ensuring that the mourners cannot. In the instances where this recording isn’t available, it is possible but problematic to arrange to video it yourself and requires careful consideration of legal, ethical, and practical factors. The most crucial aspect is to respect the wishes and feelings of the grieving family and attendees, and to make sure everyone agrees to it in advance. When done thoughtfully, a recording can serve as a meaningful keepsake and a way to include distant loved ones in the farewell process.