How are extremely high-end funerals organized? Is there such a thing as a "funeral coordinator" (analogous to a wedding coordinator for a high end wedding)? Please provide a case study for a high-end funeral (> 1 million USD) and a list of the top funeral coordinators, if they exist.
Hello! Thanks for your question about how extremely high end funerals are organized. The short answer is that rather than funeral coordinators, these events are generally either planned by funeral directors who specialize in meeting the funeral needs of high end and celebrity clients, or event planners who offer funerals as one of their services. These high end funerals tend to range from several hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars in the case of high profile celebrities like Michael Jackson, whose casket alone cost $25,000. Per your request, in addition to providing a detailed case study of Jackson's funeral, I’ve also provided a list of individuals who are known for providing coordination for extremely high end funerals. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
While in the case of the typical funeral, the funeral director or funeral home typically takes care of only some arrangements for a funeral and the family must take on secondary roles like selecting a headstone or planning personal transportation to and from the event, for high end funerals, the director often takes on multiple roles including coordinating the process from point of death arrangements to booking event entertainment for lavish ceremonies to arranging transportation and even travel booking and planning for guests.
One of the key considerations mentioned frequently that sets apart high end funeral directors is also their specialization as related to confidentiality, as many high end funerals are for high profile celebrity clients. These directors will not only take on many of the tasks typically delegated to family members, but will also do so with an extra level of secrecy, to avoid monetary or event details from being leaked to the press. It's also noted that they also take a greater effort to maintain the elegance of their clients, for example, making arrangements to have celebrities and high end clients embalmed in their homes or at location of death, so the body can removed stylishly presented in a casket, rather than risk the disgrace of being witnessed publicly in a body bag.
COSTS & OFFERINGS
While the average funeral is estimated to cost anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000, high end funerals have been known to cost over $1 million dollars. Costs associated with this high price include caskets made of luxurious materials including gold, extremely expensive floral arrangements, high end car rentals for the entire family and/or procession, high end catering/ bar and food services for guests, and in many cases, security services or police escorts.
Additionally, extremely high end funeral clients often ask for additional services that aren't typically associated with funerals such as travel and lodging assistance for guests, design services so the funeral is presented in accordance with the departed's last wishes, entertainment booking, or the coordination of multiple ceremonies.
CASE STUDY- MICHAEL JACKSON
In terms of case studies, while Michael Jackson's funeral occurred a few years ago, it is an excellent example of an extremely high end funeral in that many of the costs and services associated were made public. Some notable requirements were a solid bronze coffin, security arrangements paid to the local police department
The costs of the million dollar funeral included:
Interment costs in the Great Mausoleum of Forest Lawn-Glendale: $590,000
Endowment care by Forest Lawn-Glendale: $88,500
Luxury casket (style 3-99 Prometheus): $25,000
Casket coach: $250
Burial outfit: $35,000
Family clothing allowance: $1,975
Framed picture to be placed next to the casket: $3,682
Invitations and programs: $11,716
Glendale police department and city support (security): $175,089
Designer for the funeral, Bush-Tompkins: $15,000
I noted that rather than specific coordinators, high end funerals are generally planned by either funeral directors who specialize in meeting the funeral needs of high end and celebrity clients, or event planners who offer funerals as one of their services. The most notable or well known, which I determined based on media coverage were as follows:
Tripp Carter, Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services: This Houston based director is known for arranging lavish funerals for socialites in Texas that are held in an extravagant mansion and often feature high end catering and entertainment for guests.
Dennis Martin, coordinator at Frank E. Campbell: This funeral service provider has coordinated the funerals of various celebrities including Heath Ledger, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, James Cagney, John Lennon, and Biggie Smalls. They are known for specializing in the needs of extremely high end clients.
David Monn, event planner/ designer: While not specifically a funeral coordinator, this leading New York designer has done the funeral arrangements for former Time chief Henry Grunwald, and investor John Whitehead
Carolyn Peachey, event specialist: This D.C. based event specialist has planned funerals for Tim Russert, Richard Holbrooke, and Ben Bradlee, including
Matthew Lymm Rose, Directory A. W. Lymm: Some arrangements this director makes for his high end clients include arranging a fleet of Rolls Royce concierge vehicles, gold-plated caskets, as well as no holds barred personalization services. While this director is based in the UK, they are able to provide services to high profile clients internationally, and have served US clients.
To wrap it up, high end funerals are generally either planned by funeral directors who specialize in meeting the funeral needs of high end and celebrity clients, or prestigious event planners who offer funerals as one of their services. Some of the services included are greater confidentiality, lavish event details such as high end catering, expensive entertainment, and luxury transportation for guests, with many of these funerals costing in the six figure to million dollar range.Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!