Designing Funeral Programs

If you’ve been assigned the duty of designing a loved one’s funeral program, you may be unsure where to start. That’s understandable, and we’re here to help. Creating a unique printed tribute to a person’s life doesn’t have to be difficult, if you follow these five tips for designing a funeral program.

Choose the Format for Your Program First

It’s easier to decide what to include in the funeral program if you know how much space you’ll have in the printed piece. Will you use a simple bifold/single fold funeral program layout or opt for a multipage program?  What size paper will you use?  Will you have a standard fold, or an offset fold?  See our article on funeral program layouts for more information.

If you don’t have experience creating a folder or brochure, you’ll find funeral program templates helpful. Make the program even more personal by selecting a program template with colors and graphics that best represent the person who has passed away.

Research the Details

Writing the details that are normally included in a funeral program involves doing some research. Here are some of the items you may want to use:

  • Full name of the deceased, dates and places of birth and death
  • Place, date and time of funeral or memorial service and internment
  • Names of pallbearers or honorary pallbearers
  • Person officiating the service
  • Special music: names of performers and titles of songs
  • Names of individuals doing special readings
  • Suggested charities for donations in honor of the deceased

These details can be used to write the funeral order of service (here’s a sample funeral program) and also used as appropriate to write the obituary.  Read this article for more information on what to put in a funeral program.

Write a Personalized Obituary

Rather than a run-of-the-mill standard obituary, why not honor your loved one with a unique record of their life? The obituary you include in the funeral keepsake can be more personal than one that appears online or in a newspaper. You could, for instance, include one of your loved one’s favorite poems or quotations. You may also want to add a short summary of the person’s life.

Here’s an example:

“Joe H. Thomas loved animals and supported animal rights organizations all his life. He shared that passion with his beloved wife, Elizabeth, and passed it on to his children, Joe Jr., Emily and Richard. Donations to the following animal rights groups can be made in Joe’s memory.”

Here are some of the other details commonly included in a funeral program obituary:

  • Spouse or partner names, length of relationship
  • Children or grandchildren’s names and their spouses’ names
  • Schools attended, educational achievements and degrees
  • Profession, place of employment, professional honors
  • Charitable interests, involvement with churches and other religious organizations

Photographs Create a Unique Tribute

While words can convey the life of your loved one, adding special photographs will make their funeral tribute even more unique. Look for photos in family albums or cellphones and on social media sites like Facebook. Focus on finding clear, uncluttered photographs that convey their personality and interests. A more formal photo taken by a professional photographer will suit the program cover best, but try to also find candid shots portraying your loved one in beloved places, receiving special honors or spending time with friends and family.

Add Frames, Borders and Clipart

With readily available frames, borders and clipart, you can enhance the appearance of photos and add a professional look to the funeral program. The goal is to design a funeral bulletin that paints a picture of the person’s life while also conveying the details of their final service.

A well-planned funeral program can become a treasured keepsake that brings to mind a friend or loved one’s life in years to come. Take the time to follow these five tips and the program you design will reach that goal as well as reflecting the care you’ve taken to complete the task.