Funeral order of service
Creating an order of service for a loved one’s funeral is a lovely way to pay tribute to the person you’ve lost.
Here’s everything you need to know to make your own funeral order of service.
What is a funeral order of service?
A funeral order of service, also referred to as a funeral program, typically provides an outline of what will happen during the funeral service. It is often in the form of a printed four-page booklet, although it can be as many pages as you like. The family and friends responsible for arranging the funeral will decide on the order of service, often with the help of funeral planners.
A funeral service is a very personal and unique event, in commemoration of your loved one’s life. Each order of service will be different as it is personalised to the deceased, although the order of service may include religious songs, poems, readings, or anything else you would like to add.
The order of service is normally placed on seats in the chapel or church, or given to mourners as they arrive at the funeral. It is common for mourners to keep the booklet as a memory of your loved one or for a copy of the order of service to be sent to those who cannot attend.
How to write your own funeral order of service
The order of service can be as simple or detailed as you like. A funeral service is an opportunity to celebrate the life of your loved one, and the order of service should reflect that.
This guide will explain how to write a funeral order of service and includes some useful ideas to help get you started.
What to include in a funeral order of service booklet:
The front cover of a funeral order of service is usually kept quite simple.
It will often include:
- A photo of the deceased
- Their full name. If your loved one had any nicknames, you may also want to include them.
- Date of birth and date of death
- Date, time and location of the service
- You may also want to include a short message or quote to remember them by
When choosing a photo, it’s a nice idea to find one that reflects their personality. It doesn’t have to be a recent photo or a serious photo either; try and pick one that will raise a smile or a fond memory of your loved one. It’s best not to use a group photo.
The next few pages will inform attendees what will happen throughout the service. If a minister or officiant is leading the service, they may be able to guide you as to the common order in which things happen.
There is no strict format or order you must follow but a typical order of service may include:
- An introduction, by whoever is conducting the service
- Music and hymns - the words to hymns may be printed for people to sing along
- Readings and eulogies, the speakers are usually named in the order of service. We’ve created a list of popular non-religious funeral readings to help you.
- With religious ceremonies, the words to group prayers after often included so people can join in
- Entrance and closing music, this may also be named in the booklet for attendees who may be unfamiliar with the selection or who are unable to attend
The chosen venue or place of worship may have a particular way of running things, so you should consider checking with them before finalising your plans.
If you opt for a Simplicity Family Led Funeral, you should plan a service of around 30 minutes, which allows time to enter and exit the chapel. In this case, the funeral will start as you enter the chapel, as your loved one will already be resting inside.
Once you have decided on the schedule of the service, you can begin adding memories and treasured moments to the booklet. It can be as many pages as you like, but bear in mind that extra pages may incur additional print costs.
Here are some ideas for adding personal touches to a funeral order of service:
- Extra photos of them are different stages in their life
- A timeline of the person’s life, picking out key milestones and achievements such as their graduation, wedding day or retirement
- Quotes from their favourite books or poems, or lyrics from their favourite song
- Quotes about the person who died from friends and family
- Drawings of them
It’s customary to include another photo of the person being remembered on the back cover of the order of service; you may like to make this a group or family photo.
The final page is also a good place to mention any preferred charities for donations. This may be a charity or cause that meant a lot to your loved one during their life or helped them towards the later stages of their life.
An expression of thanks for those who attended is often made on the final page too.
You may also add details about where the reception or wake will be (if you’re having one).
We hope you're feeling confident enough to make your own funeral order of service after reading our blog. For more inspiration when planning a loved one’s funeral, view our advice section. Alternatively, contact us for help arranging a funeral for a loved one.