THE MODERN funeral has evolved to a point where motorbike hearses, doves and personalised coffins aren't out of the question.
Tamworth's Burke and Douglas Funerals has an ambitious plan for a 400-seat new chapel and condolence lounge at Lincoln Grove Memorial Park to make sure a family's loved one is well-remembered.
The old chapel seated about 100 people before COVID-19, and even then it was close to bursting, funeral home general manager Paul Brooks said.
"It's clearly too small for the district for non-denominational services," he said.
"The application is with the council [Tamworth Regional Council] at the moment, we want to build a 400-seat chapel with a condolence lounge beside that for after-functions or wakes.
"We'll have new offices, an arranging room, an office for the stone mason and the cremator will stay in the old building."
The original chapel, built in the 1980's, will remain on the site for smaller services or other funeral directors to use.
The new proposed building has a contemporary look with upgraded audio-visual equipment and the ability to host wakes at the same venue.
Part of the development includes the entry on Gunnedah Road being closed to the public and a new car park being built.
A new entrance has been developed on Workshop Lane to avoid potential accidents on the main road.
As cremations and modern funerals have become more popular, the industry needs to keep up, Mr Brooks said.
"We always try to make it personalised and about the family, what they want is what they get - we want to give people options," he said.
"I've been doing this for 15 years now and the industry has changed just in my short time, even down to when I started we did two burials to every one cremation in Tamworth and now it's about 50/50.
"There's a lot more event planning now than there used to be; it's about looking after people at a difficult time in their life, most people will only organise two funerals in their lifetime so it's not something you can practice for or learn anywhere."
Traditional hymns aren't played as often now, with families choosing popular music preferred by the deceased person.
Even coffins can be personalised with pictures of the family or deceased, and slide shows have become a regular feature at funerals.
The new build is hoped to be approved and built by the end of the year.