What To Expect at a Chapel Service at Arlington

During a period of mourning, many turn to their religion to find a sense of closure and comfort as they come to terms with the loss of a loved one. As such, the Arlington National Cemetery chapel allows families to request a chapel service for their loved ones. If you’re attending an Arlington service that includes a chapel service, let us tell you what to expect at a chapel service at Arlington to ensure you’re able to attend and observe respectfully.

Entering the Chapel

It’s generally recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the service, as this gives you a chance to speak with the Cemetery Representative and the family, during which time you can express your condolences and get any necessary instructions before the service begins. When the service time begins to approach, stay near the officer in charge and follow their lead in saluting as the remains of the deceased are transported from the hearse into the chapel. Though the officer will be saluting, you will instead place your right hand over your heart, as this is the customary way to pay your respects as a civilian. You’ll continue to follow the example of the officer in charge to know when to stop saluting and enter the chapel.

In the Chapel

Once you’re inside the chapel, the faith of the departed and their family will dictate proper conduct. These services, unless otherwise stated, are typically 20 minutes long in consideration of other services scheduled for that day. When the service comes to a close, walk to the center of the aisle and move to the rear of the casket or urn. The ushers will come forth, and the organist will begin to play.

Leaving the Chapel

As you prepare to exit the chapel, turn to the rear and follow the processional out of the chapel. If religious practices had you don vestments, you will have the opportunity to change before leaving the chapel. Once you exit the chapel, go to the left and stand near the caisson while placing your right hand over your heart. The remains shall be moved and secured to the caisson.

Now that you know what to expect at a chapel service at Arlington, you will be able to focus on tending to your grief and mourning rather than worrying that you’re doing the right thing while you’re in the chapel.

Understanding the Arlington National Cemetery Dress Code

As the most hallowed resting place for the nation’s fallen, understanding the Arlington National Cemetery dress code is an important show of respect for the dignity of such an occasion. To help you prepare, let us teach you how you should expect to dress and what considerations you must take before attending an Arlington Cemetery military funeral.

For Men

At a minimum, men should attend wearing a collared shirt and a pair of slacks or trousers with an accompanying belt. Acceptable collared shirts include dress shirts or polo shirts depending on the weather. For pants, the colors you have to choose from include khaki, blue, green, black, or brown. For footwear, wear something appropriate but be prepared for both hard and soft surfaces.

While not a necessity, men may also wear a jacket and tie should they desire, but “business casual” is all that is enforced.

For Women

Women have the choice of wearing a skirt at least at knee-length or a pair of non-denim trousers. For a top, make sure you wear something that covers the shoulders such as a blouse or dress shirt. Informal dresses are also acceptable so long as they follow the same rule as skirts and reach at least knee-length. Again, when choosing appropriate footwear, be prepared for both hard and soft surfaces throughout the service.

Account for the Weather

Part of understanding the Arlington National Cemetery dress code is understanding that it isn’t quite as strict as you might expect. With that in mind, know that you have plenty of room to account for the weather while getting dressed. As mentioned, polo shirts are allowed and perfectly ideal for the summer weather, while a nice coat or winter hat is understandable for a memorial service during the fall or winter. So please, dress comfortably as well as sensibly.

How To Prepare for a Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery

If your loved one is a veteran of the US military, you can honor their passing by arranging for a service at the Arlington National Cemetery. While an Arlington service is arranged by a funeral director, and many of the expenses are covered by the government, there are still some preparations you should make beforehand. Let us help you learn how to prepare for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

Assembling Documentation

In order to arrange and attend the service, there are a few documents that you must either submit for review by Arlington staff or present to security on the day of the service, so they know that you and your guests are supposed to be there. These documents include:

  • DD214 or equivalent service documentation in order to prove your loved one is eligible to be put to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Your loved one’s death certificate.
  • A cremation certificate, if applicable.
  • Succession documents for the PADD to act on behalf of the Primary Next of Kin.
  • For unmarried adult dependents, two extra documents are required: a notarized statement from an individual that can testify to the marital status, the degree of dependency, and the name of the dependent’s parent.
  • Other additional documents provided prior to the service for signature.

COVID-19 Considerations

Because of the pandemic, you’ll also need to know how to prepare for a funeral at Arlington Nation Cemetery according to CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone present. Everyone attending the service, including Arlington staff, must wear a face covering. Both Arlington National Cemetery and military service branches are closely watching the situation and will inform you if extra precautions are necessary in order to abide by current COVID-19 protocols.

Service Photography

Whether your loved one is receiving standard military honors or full military honors at Arlington, there is no shortage of beautiful traditions that you will likely want to remember. Funeral photographers like those at Arlington Media are professionals who know how to capture these precious memories without interfering or disrupting the service. We would be honored to assist you with your service.

Qualities To Look for in a Professional Funeral Photographer

It’s common for funeral services to be photographed as a way to commemorate loved ones, but there are certain qualities to look for in a professional funeral photographer. Ensuring you have professionals that show sensitivity and empathy to those in mourning is as crucial as the skill and equipment needed for good photography. Let us recommend some of the qualities you should look for.

Shows Empathy

We are of the opinion that there is no skill more important for funeral photographers than that of empathy. Funerals are rife with emotions and mourning family members, so knowing how to be sensitive to that is key to successfully capturing the event without being disruptive or insensitive. You do not want a photographer that will be getting up close, but rather, one that endeavors to become nearly invisible during the service so as not to intrude or exacerbate the grief of attendees. A good photographer will also endeavor to introduce themselves to attendees before bringing their equipment in to make them more comfortable and understanding.

Effectively Communicates

Similarly, while a good funeral photographer will do their best to stay out of sight and out of mind, one of the best qualities to look for in a professional funeral photographer is the ability to effectively communicate with you or the coordinator. The photographer does not want to be presumptuous and accidentally offend, so having an open line of communication between you and the photographer will help them coordinate and adapt much easier. Furthermore, when communicating with the photographer, clearly establish your expectations and what is off-limits so that the photographer can respect your wishes.

Works Without Flash

There is nothing more rude or intrusive than a funeral photographer that uses flash photography. Though it lasts for less than a second, it draws an incredible amount of attention and can be upsetting to someone having a very personal and vulnerable moment. If the location and circumstances absolutely require flash photography, the photographer should anticipate this and forewarn attendees beforehand.

If you’re looking for photographers for your memorial service, please contact us. These values are of the utmost importance to Arlington national cemetery photographers, and we want to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.