It’s understandable that when faced with creating a Funeral Order of Service, it is an incredibly emotional time. As a result, it can be very difficult to know what to write or how to go about beginning such an important task. If you’re asking, “how do you do a funeral Order of Service?” this guide is designed to help ease some of the pressure and give you lots of tips on how to write an Order of Service.
When creating your Order of Service, it is best to keep in mind “How would [name] like to be remembered?”. This may help with your photo choice, as well as adding some personal details.
Do you need a funeral order of service?
Traditionally, an Order of Service was a booklet given to those attending including a timeline of the events happening throughout the service. As well as the hymns and poems included in the service, to read or sing along. An Order of Service is also a nice keepsake for people to take home in memorial of the deceased.
A Funeral Order of Service is so much more than a compilation of hymns and poems: it is a tribute to your loved one. If your loved one’s funeral is less traditional than a religious ceremony, the Order of Service may just include a collection of pictures to commemorate your loved one. As well as some words from the family, or the deceased themselves. Perhaps information of a charity to donate to. An Order of Service can simply be a little keepsake in memorial of your loved one and therefore does not need to be strict. It is up to you.
Creating a Funeral Order of Service is a chance to work together with your friends and family. Choosing photos, messages, and sentiments that symbolise the life of someone close to you and deciding together the best way to represent that celebrated life to a larger circle of friends and loved ones.
What should be included in a funeral order of service?
Cover page – Normally kept simple and respectful, it should include a photo of the one being remembered, their full legal, name and any nicknames they had. Their date of birth and date of death. You may also include any short message, quotation, or sentiment that represents them. Some people also choose to include the location, date, and time of the service.
Centre pages- The centre pages normally include a schedule of events taking place at the ceremony, just a simple list telling the guests what will happen and what to expect. There is no specific order to follow, but it may include:
A musical procession as those attending enter.
Music, songs, hymns, or poems. The specific hymns and poems can be listed and highlighted in bold for the mourners to follow along.
Readers and speakers recalling stories of the loved one who passed. These are usually named
Group prayer, hymns, or music
An introduction of the community leader or loved one.
You’ll need to check the outline of the service with the director of the ceremony or your community leader before you decide to print. Depending on the venue or the place of worship,
they may have a particular way of running things – and you should make sure they can fit in your plans before you promise anything in your booklet.
After you’ve outlined the service, you can use the next few pages to give some extra insights into the life of the person being celebrated and create something personal. This could be through collages of pictures of the deceased over their lifetime, some of their favourite quotations or sentiments. Or if it is a religious ceremony, some verses of scripture.
You could also use a few original thoughts or sentiments written by friends and family. This could be anything that you want people to remember when they think about the person who was close to you. This might be a nice time to include some positive things to make people smile and lift the mood.
Some families choose to display a timeline of the person’s life, picking out a few of the most important events and marking the dates with photos where they have them. Such as graduation ceremonies, their wedding day, and a few milestone birthdays, children for example.
Back page- As you approach the end of the booklet, it’s a good time to express your thanks to those who attended the service, and to extend your warm wishes to more distant friends and relatives who received a copy of the booklet but couldn’t attend the ceremony itself.
You can also include thanks to the company that provided the funeral service. This can be a warm gesture, especially if you’ve used a local company that’s known within your community, and you feel have supplied an extra special service.
You can finish off the booklet with the details and location of the burial and the wake or reception that’s to follow the service – so as the mourners come to the end of the ceremony and the booklet, they know where to go and what to do next.
Some additional pictures and words can go on the back. If you have chosen a recent picture of your loved one on the front page it can be nice to add a few older photographs of them on the back or vice versa. Some examples of thanks for the back page are below.
“The family would like to thank everyone for their attendance today.
Donations in memory of [name] will be most graciously received for [charity]
Refreshments will be held at the [location], to which you are all warmly invited.”
“The family would like to thank everyone for coming today, as well as all the kind messages they have received at this sad time.
Donations for [charity] will be collected if you wish to donate.
Following the service, you are all welcome to attend [location] to share further memories of [name]. Refreshments will be served also.”
Funeral Order of Service Template
Here is an example of a Funeral Order of Service:
An example Order of Service inside spread.
Introduction and Welcome by the Celebrant
Hymn, Prayer, poem, or Verse
Reading(s) and who is reading
A Funeral Address or Appreciation of the life
Hymn, Prayer, poem, or Verse
Commendation & Farewell
Dismissal and Blessing
Funeral Order of Service Ideas
It’s best to choose one style and be consistent throughout. And if you’re struggling with the visual side of things, please refer to our page of templates for unique and tasteful designs. Alternatively, you can make your own bespoke design, or allow us to design it for you.
Choose a paperweight that gives you the right balance and weight when holding the booklet. The lightweight paper helps to keep the costs down but a booklet with heavier paper will last much longer and will feel like a higher quality product when held in the hand.
Selecting the perfect design is very important. This will reflect the personality of your loved one. Template designs can vary from traditional to modern and contain floral, patterned, or illustrated motifs. By choosing a professionally designed template you can produce a beautiful design by simply adding your text and images. You can choose from a range of beautiful designs.
Selecting a photograph for the front cover can be an opportunity for family and friends to get together and sort through old photographs and share some warm memories of the deceased. It is best to try and pick a photo where your loved one is the main subject, but if there are others in the photo you can easily crop them out. It is also the perfect time to remember the personality and character of your loved one. If you have more than one photograph selected, you can always add additional photographs throughout the Order of Service. The pictures should be of a good quality and truly represent the person being honoured.
Typically, families would stick to the standard folded A4 sheet in black and white for their orders of service as it is respectful and normally as part of the funeral package. Additionally, while that might have been convenient, it may not always do justice to the person being remembered, and a more original design might better represent the one being celebrated.
Avoid using too many colours, however, as it may look too brash.
Some things to consider
Durability – If someone keeps hold of the booklet, is it going to stand the test of time?
Texture – Do you want the paper to be smooth and glossy, or rough and textured?
Design – Do you want design ‘details’, like embossed text? Will the booklet need to be in colour?
The number of copies – How many guests are you expecting? Do you need extra for guests who cannot make it?
Environmental concerns – Are you (or was the person who’s died) big on environmentalism? Is there a way of making the Order of Service booklets more sustainable?
Keep the overall design simple and uncluttered.
Use easy-to-read fonts at a good size.
Choose colour photos that best capture the character of the remembered person.
Give enough information for those who are attending, and those who can’t make it.
Writing a Funeral Order of Service can be an incredibly sad time, as well as a difficult task. It is the final time to represent your loved one, and therefore a big responsibility. However, it is important to remember this may also be a warm way to remember the loved one as a family, and a time to gather family and close friends to create the best and most impactful goodbye.