Writing Funeral Order of Service

Writing the Funeral Order of Service

The funeral order of service or funeral outline helps those who are attending know what to expect during the funeral or memorial service. It also helps them follow along with the service and aids those contributing to the service to know when to play their part.

As you begin writing the funeral order of service to include in a funeral or memorial program, answer these five questions first.

Who Can Provide Guidance?

Will a pastor, priest or other officiate be leading the service? They can usually give you an idea of what’s appropriate to include in a funeral or memorial service, especially if it’s being held in their facility. Some religions have specific elements of a funeral service such as prayers or reading of Scripture that are normally observed and should be included in your order of service.

What Personal Touches Will You Include?

Decide if you’ll include such personal elements as video tributes or a time to share memories of the deceased. You may also want to have a friend or family member read a memorial poem, scripture or passage of a book that was special to the person who has passed. Include that in your order of service so there’s no confusion about when they need to step to the front.

Will There Be Special Music During the Service?

Including music that was meaningful to the deceased can be a wonderful way to honor them. If the service will be held in a church or synagogue, make sure the music selected meets their guidelines for what is considered appropriate.

Tip: Before you add special music to the order of service, find out if musicians will need to provide their own sound equipment so that it can be set up well ahead of the service. This is also true of any audio equipment required to play recorded music.

Will There Be a Time of Viewing?

Some families and cultures prefer to include a time of viewing the deceased as part of the funeral or memorial. Be sure to add that to the order of service so those attending know what to expect.

Tip: If you choose not to include viewing, or if the casket will remain closed throughout the service, you can decide if you’ll have a separate visitation time before the service.

How Will You Open and Close the Service?

This may seem obvious, but including the name of the person who gives an opening prayer or statement of welcome keeps things running smoothly. You’ll also want to include the way the service will end—will someone give a benediction, lead in prayer or read a final tribute to the deceased? Whatever you decide, be sure to include it in your funeral or memorial program.

Tip: You can choose to include details about any graveside service or other gathering at the bottom of your order of service, or the person officiating can announce those details.

Once the pastor, priest or funeral home director has given you the basics of what a service normally includes, you can begin to make decisions about adding personalized touches. Keep your order of service concise to allow room in your funeral program or brochure for an obituary, photographs and tributes to the deceased. In that way, you’ll design a loving memento that also informs those attending the service what to expect.