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What to Wear to a Viewing or Visitation

When you are attending a funeral viewing or visitation, it is important to be respectful of the deceased and their family. This means wearing appropriate clothing that is not too casual or revealing. If you've never attended a visitation or a viewing, you may be unsure as to what to wear. Here's a guide outlining what to wear to a funeral viewing or visitation, so you can dress with respect.

Visitation vs. viewing

If you haven't attended one of these events before, you may not be aware of the differences between the two. A funeral visitation is typically held at the funeral home or a church, and is a time for family and friends to gather and pay their respects to the deceased. A funeral viewing, on the other hand, is usually held before the funeral service, and allows mourners to see the deceased one last time.

When deciding what to wear, it's important to take into account the event you will be attending. If you're unsure, it's always better to err on the side of conservatism.

What to wear to a funeral visitation

For proper funeral visitation attire, you should dress in clothing that is comfortable yet respectful. Many people choose to wear dark-colored clothing, such as black, navy blue, or dark gray. This is not required, however, and you can wear any color you feel comfortable in.

As for the level of formality, it's generally best to choose a more traditional or formal outfit. This means avoiding anything too casual, like jeans or shorts. Instead, opt for clothing that is slightly more dressy, such as slacks, a skirt, or a blouse. You may also want to consider wearing a jacket or cardigan, depending on the weather and the dress code of the funeral home or church. Before deciding on an outfit, always consult the funeral event information to see if there are any special requests for attire.

Funeral visitation etiquette

When attending a funeral visitation, there are a few etiquette rules to keep in mind. First, be sure to arrive on time or early. It's also important to introduce yourself to the deceased's family if you don't know them well.

During the visitation, you may want to sign the guest book and offer your condolences to the family. You may also choose to view the body of the deceased, but this is not required.

When leaving, it's polite to thank the family for their hospitality and say a few words about the deceased.

What to wear to a funeral viewing

For a funeral viewing, you should dress in similar clothing as you would for a visitation. Many people choose to wear dark-colored clothing, such as black, dark gray, or dark blue while others may prefer more neutral colors (such as beige).

What to wear to a viewing in the summer

If you're attending a viewing during the summer months, try to dress in clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable, while still aiming for a respectful outfit. This can include things like a dark colored summer dress, a darker blouse paired with dress pants or a nice skirt. For men, this can include a dark button down paired with a nice pair of slacks or darker jeans, a suit, or a smart casual outfit in darker colors. When it comes to what to wear to a viewing vs. a funeral, you should wear very similar outfits at both a viewing and a summer funeral.

Do you wear black to a viewing?

While you don't need to wear black to a funeral viewing or visitation, many people choose to do so as a sign of respect. If you're unsure what to wear, sticking to darker colors is always a safe bet.

What not to wear

When deciding what not to wear, use your best judgment and consider what would be respectful to the deceased and their family.

Some general things to avoid include:

  • Clothing that is too casual, such as jeans, t-shirts, or shorts
  • Revealing clothing, such as anything that is too tight, short, or low-cut
  • Clothing with offensive slogans or images
  • Beachwear
  • Athletic wear

No matter what you wear, the most important thing is that you are there to support the grieving family and pay your respects to the deceased.

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Last updated July 29, 2022
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