When a member of a Baptist church passes away, the tradition is for a viewing to take place on the evening before the funeral. Usually, the family is invited to come early to have a personal viewing of the body in the casket and have time to gain composure before friends come to pay their respects. When friends and extended family arrive, they form a slow-moving line that passes by the casket. The guests then have the opportunity to extend their condolences to the immediate family. It is a solemn and somber occasion.
On the night of the viewing, men may elect to wear a full suit or a sports jacket with coordinating dress pants. Business casual attire is also acceptable, including button-down dress shirts or pullover knit polo shirts with dress pants or khakis. Shorts are not recommended. Wearing a tie is generally optional, but it should be a dark color if you decide to wear one. Dress shoes with socks are appropriate, so you should avoid wearing sandals, flip flops or shoes without socks.
While it is no longer mandatory to wear all black to a funeral event, dark colors are appropriate and show respect to the family in mourning. Women may choose to wear a dress, skirt and blouse or dress pants to the family viewing. Short skirts or tight clothing are not appropriate, so make the effort to wear a conservative outfit. Panty hose are not necessary, and footwear should lean toward being more dressy than casual.
Children are usually welcome at a family viewing, regardless of whether they actually view the deceased in the casket. Conservative clothing should be selected for children, though it should be fairly comfortable, since the viewing may last a while. A dress or skirt with sandals work well for girls, and khakis or even nice shorts are acceptable for boys when paired with a dress shirt or pullover.
Occasionally, a family viewing is not held at the church or funeral home, but in a different location, such as the family home. This change in venue generally indicates a more casual atmosphere, so guests may dress down, as long as the clothing remains conservative. Cotton pants, nice tops and casual footwear are all acceptable in this situation.