Your guide to Create a Stunning Funeral Order of Service
What needs to go into a Funeral Order of Service
For anyone who has been involved with arranging a Funeral Service, you’ll know there are many tasks that require your attention.
One such undertaking will be creating a beautiful, memorable, and uplifting Order of Service Funeral in memory of a loved one.
In the normal course of events, you would have plenty of time to plan, research, consult and finally write your copy. But a funeral is not an everyday event and certainly not something many of us ever must deal with.
Where do you start?
Creating a Funeral Order of Service which celebrates the life of a loved one and reflects their personality requires a great deal of thought and planning. The challenge in these circumstances is that you have so little time and the burden of grief too great for clear thinking. Certainly not by the most immediate family.
Far better to nominate someone a little removed from the emotional trauma surrounding the bereavement. Someone with sufficient closeness to the family and knowledge of the individual who has passed away to be able to bring their personality to the Funeral Order of Service which they are creating.
We’ll talk in more detail later about the structure and content of an Order of Service but before we do it is important to find out a little more about the person concerned and what made them who they were.
The sorts of questions you would want to ask would be:
- What made them particularly special?
- What were their likes and dislikes?
- What made them happiest?
- Did they have any hobbies?
- Were they religious?
- How would they like to have been remembered?
Your list may be longer but there’s no need to over-complicate what should be a very rewarding task. But by talking to close family and friends you’ll very quickly build up a picture of the deceased and be better able to create a funeral booklet which celebrates their life in the way they would have wished.
Once this task is complete one of the first things to be addressed is the written content of the service itself.
We are often asked if there is a set format to follow and whilst services vary greatly, there are several common features. And these will include:
- Details of the deceased and their date of birth and date of passing.
- The time, date, and place of the service
- The name and title of the individual leading the service
- Entrance music: the name of the composer and title of the passage.
- Hymns: there will often be two hymns, and these will be typed in full but may omit certain verses at the discretion of the family and minister.
- Readings and Poems: these will often be listed by title only and will detail the title of the passage, its source and the author.
- Tributes: like Readings, a tribute will simply be listed by title and the name of the individual delivering the tribute.
- Prayers: will commonly be listed by title only – except for the Lord’s prayer which will be written out in full.
- Committal and Blessing
- Exit music which will detail the name of the piece and the creator
- A short message of thanks will commonly be detailed on the outside of the back cover.
- Donations: the family may detail their wishes in terms of donations, the good cause and how they can be made.
- The location of the wake, if there is one, will also be detailed on the back cover and an invitation to attend.
Whilst these are very general guidelines, we would recommend involving the leader of your service as early as possible.
This may be a local vicar or priest or perhaps a celebrant or lay preacher; it may be a family friend or yourself. There is no law in the UK that prevents anyone from taking a funeral service.
However, talking to the person taking your service and involving them in your preparations as early as possible will ensure that there are no outstanding omissions.
What photographs should you choose?
In recent years one of the most profound changes to Order of Service Funeral is their purpose.
Their purpose has and continues to be a detailed programme of the service.
But in recent years this has changed profoundly with the emphasis much more on being a celebration of the life of a loved one. Photographs are now commonplace. Not simply a single photograph of the deceased but a record of some of the most memorable moments in their life.
Many families contact us with concerns about photo quality and what may or may not be good enough to include in the funeral programme.
My reply is always the same. The very best Funeral Order of Service will be a wonderfully uplifting celebration of a loved one’s life and if some images are faded or dog-eared then all the better.
We aren’t looking to recreate brochure quality shots here but remember a loved one enjoying some of the most memorable and happy periods in their life. Pictures which may be old or faded bring a wonderful sense of time and place to help us remember them in their environment at times that mattered deeply to them.
These photos will not have been taken by a professional but have been captured at moments special to them and their family. And that’s how we wish to remember them.
Pulling all your content together
Now that your initial preparations are complete it’s time to put pen to paper and start pulling all that content together.
But don’t worry, there are some very handy shortcuts which will save a huge amount of time.
Assuming that you will be typing out the wording of your Order of Service Funeral on something like Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages, you don’t have laboriously type everything out in full. Especially, when it comes to hymns and here’s a great little time saver.
Simply open your browser and type in the first line of your chosen hymn and then add the word “Lyrics” at the end before hitting search. In seconds you’ll be presented with a plethora of copyright-free sites where you can copy the words and drop them into your document.
A Technical Tip
Text copied from the internet will often carry a great deal of background formatting which you don’t want to bring over – so here’s what to do.
As you paste the hymn lyrics into your Word document a “Paste Options” dialogue box will appear – usually with three options. Choose the “Merge Formatting” option and Word will automatically apply your formatting to the imported text.
Calculating the length of the Funeral Service
As you build up your Funeral Order of Service it is a good idea to consider how long the service is likely to be. This is important when it comes to funerals at a crematorium which are arranged in timed slots and run on a carefully timed schedule.
Services which overrun their allotted time can create a great deal of difficulty for those who follow you don’t want to overrun your allotted time. Or … have to cut short your service. Far better to anticipate the time required and book two crematorium slots if you think it necessary.
How many to have?
As you start to bring everything together one question which always looms large is how many Orders of Service Funeral you are likely to need.
There is never an easy answer but soundings out of family and friends for likely attendees and then adding a 20% safety margin won’t leave you far adrift.
Remember, any Service Booklets left over after the service are not likely to go to waste. There will undoubtedly be a number who have been unable to travel to the funeral and spare copies will be very gratefully received.
Choosing a Paper or Card for your Funeral Order of Service
If you are asking a third party to print your funeral programme for you it is useful to have some technical understanding of paper weights.
A top-quality 4-page Order of Service will be printed on something like a 350gsm superior white card. To put this into perspective, this is the same weight as a good Business Card so it shouldn’t be weak and flimsy. A good quality smooth white card will also enhance any photographs you may use.
For longer services, it isn’t unusual to have an 8-page or even 12-page booklet with the pages stapled together on the spine.
If you have used a heavyweight card for the cover it is usual to use something like a matching heavyweight paper for the inside pages: 120gsm being a good weight.
However, for an extra level of luxury, you could specify a 170gsm lightweight card. Yes, it is slightly more expensive but on short runs of less than 200 booklets this isn’t likely to be significant.
With speed of turnaround paramount, it is worth talking to your Funeral Stationery supplier well in advance to ensure you receive your order on time.
Funeral Directors will often undertake this task for you but if you want something really special a dedicated Funeral Order of Service supplier may provide you with more choice and … be used to the tight turnarounds required.