Funeral order of service
What do you write in a funeral order of service?
Thankfully writing an order of service for a funeral isn’t something we have to do that often, and if you’re searching for this topic then I’d gladly share some of the examples and best practice I’ve picked up over the years working with the bereaved and families all over the UK. In this guide, you’ll discover what is typically included when writing a funeral orders of service.
Don’t worry, there are lots of different approaches and I typically find a way to help all families create something really beautiful that’ll serve as a long lasting memory to your loved one.
If you’re not a fan of reading articles, why not watch this summary 5 min explainer video here.
Order of funeral service, standard formats?
The most common format is 4 page, so imagine a sheet of A4 paper, fold that in half to view 4 individual pages. Thats often referred to as a 4pp format. Around 75% of my orders are for 4 page funeral order of service.
From time to time, I’ll be asked to include more page. Additional pages always run in multiples of 4. So, it’s common for me to receive requests for 8page, 12page, 16page and even 20page order of service booklet.
Most of the additional pages in those order of service booklet, will be taken up by photos. So pages from 5,6, and 7 will often contain all the photos and extra poems. I have lots of different layout styles for arranging the photos in the order of service booklet, and I also help in preparing photos that might not be of the highest printable quality either.
How do you structure a funeral service?
Based on a 4 page order of service booklet, the document should be structured as follows.
Line of Remembrance
Typically, this would be ‘In Loving memory of’ or some people like to use ‘a service in celebration of the life of’ or ‘in remembrance of’ some clients like to use ‘a celebration of the life of’. Featured at the top of the front cover of the orders of service.
The name of your loved one
As you would imagine, we include the full name in most cases, though not always. Sometimes clients like to include a nickname or special family name for the loved one who passed.
The date of birth and the date of passing or death. Typically this would be arranged in the following format:
19th July 1938 – 21st April 2020
some variations on this theme could be:
Sunrise 9th January 1920 – Sunset 15th May 2020
Born 4th June 1949 – Died 19th June 2020
A photo of your loved one
Find a photo that best suits your loved one, there is no fixed rule, it could be a photo from their younger days or a photo of them in their later years. You can use group photo, family members, favourite photographs, photos of keepsake items, guests and anyone of significance.
When I am including the photos, I always include them on the funeral order of service within a tasteful frame, which really helps to anchor the image of your loved one in the design. You can see some examples of photos and frames used on other front cover designs below.
The location of the funeral, service, cremation or wake
So, this might look like the following:
Salisbury Crematorium Chapel
Thursday 21st May 2020 at 11am
East Devon Crematorium, Whimple
Tuesday 14th July 2020 at 10am
Some families also like to include the name of the person conducting the service. It’s also common for this information to be included within document.
Thursday 4th June 2020 at 3pm
Service conducted by Reverend Anthony Samuels
Consider what theme (if any) you’d like use...
Many families like to use specific flowers, like lilies or forget me nots. I’ve had requests for roses in various shades like yellow and white.
Some families like to use themes that meant a lot or hold some significance, themes like Sports, Sports Teams, Hobbies like Bird Watching, Gardening, Cookery.
There is no right or wrong way, if I design for you, just let me know what objects you’d like to include, I’ll source the images and objects and include those in the design.
That’s all the information we need for the front page.
Consider the font style you would like to use within the order of service.
It’s worth mentioning fonts, though because I handle the design you don’t have to worry too much about the usual issues with online design tools. Those systems put the design burden on YOUR shoulders, and some users will choose lots and lots of different fonts, and face issues with font size. This can often be a little confusing to the reader.
When I am designing your order of service, I’ll use only a couple of timeless fonts in keeping with an order of service. My clients always have the option of reviewing the fonts used in the service booklets.
Your funeral service order, Consider timescales?
The Service printing can take a little time. I’m a little unusual, and can design print and dispatch on next day couriers your funeral order of service within a few hours. Just like the funeral director, we all prefer not to work to such tight timescales, though from time to time its required and funeral services sometimes dictate a much faster turnaround is required.
Who gives out the orders of service at a funeral?
There is no hard and fast rule, you can discuss with the funeral directors and they will suggest ideas. You may want to place some on the seats and during the service may be picked up and reviewed.
How to write the Back Page (page 4) of the document…..
There are a few elements that families tend to include on the last page. These are:
- Closing Song and hymns
This is also referred to as the Exit Song, Exit Music or Music Upon Exit.
- A photo of remembrance.
This might be another favourite photo of the families, if your loved one was married or had children, this photo often will feature the husband, wife or children.
- Poem or Prayer of remembrance
Sometimes, families like to include a prayer, a scripture from the bible or a meaningful poem.
- Thank You
This section of the funeral order of service is used to say thanks to any family or friends that have offered their support, some examples can look like the following…
“Andrew, Mary, Chris and David would like to thank everyone for all the kind messages of support and sympathy offered to them at this sad time”
Or another option
“Special thanks to those who have supported us in prayer, called, sent flowers & sympathy cards”
Or another option
“The family wish to than friends and Mill St Church for all their support, prayers, cards, flowers and sympathy during this difficult time”
As you would imagine, the thank you can be anything at all, simply an expression of the support you have received at a difficult time
- Donations to charity and good causes
Around 75% of our funeral order of service designs feature a request for donations. It’s quite common, but it’s entirely your call whether to include this section.
We work with many families who have lost a loved one, after receiving outstanding care within a hospice environment and the families like to encourage their extended family in supporting that hospice.
Some examples of how this request for donations is handled are:
“If anyone would like to donate to ‘organisation name’ in memory of ‘your loved one’ please visit website address.
It’s a good idea to include the logo of the organisation too, subtly and we take care of sourcing the logo and including any just giving links and details if you have them.
How to write the centre pages or spreads (pages 2&3) of the order…..
So, your funeral celebrant or vicar will guide you through what information is needed to include in for the service order itself. You can expand on all of these points, add to them, take some away, they are purely a guide.
- Entrance Hymn or Music on Entrance
- Welcome and Introduction
- Opening Prayer
- Bible Reading or Poem
- Memories of your loved one
- Prayers of Blessing
- Music on Leaving / Music on exit
The important thing, when planning anything as emotional as this document, is try not to get overwhelmed. If you are stuck, please ask for help. If you need any advice, looking for some ideas I will gladly offer some suggestions, just reach out on the live chat, order or no order, I’ll be happy to suggest.
Because families don’t have a lot of time to plan and create their funeral order of service, it’s important you use a print and design company like us, I will take all the hassle out of creating the funeral order of service.
I’m a firm believer that, your time should not be spent trying to figure out how to use an online design system, instead, simply review my guide, share the information you would like to include, and I’ll return screen proofs within a matter of hours.
You can visit the ordering page here, and compare funeral order of service pricing on this article, you’d be surprised how much prices vary across the UK.