The funeral order of service

What happens at a funeral and what should a funeral order of service include? The choice of order of service will be influenced by a combination of established conventions and widely varying personal preferences. In fact, almost anything is possible.

Depending upon its exact nature and the preferences of the deceased, the order of service for a funeral can be led by a religious or civil figure.

Typical content of a religious funeral order of service

A typical order of service will include the following:

  1. Music
  2. Introduction by the celebrant
  3. Shared singing or recitation of a verse
  4. One or more funeral readings that express the beliefs of those attending regarding life, death and mourning
  5. A funeral address or Appreciation of the life of the departed
  6. Time for reflection (quiet or accompanied by music)
  7. Funeral prayers and/or words of comfort and encouragement concluding with a shared verse or funeral prayer)
  8. Singing or joint recitation of a verse to strengthen the assembled mourners for the moment of parting
  9. Words of commendation before burial or cremation
  10. Words and/or music to accompany committal of the deceased
  11. Closing words (or a blessing)
  12. Close (accompanied by music)
  13. Music to leave

The order of service for funerals that are non-religious

A typical non-religious order of service (a celebration of the life of the departed) might include the following:

  1. Music to enter
  2. Opening words by the celebrant
  3. One or more poems or non-religious funeral readings by a family member, friend or the celebrant
  4. One or more tributes or appreciations by a family member or friend
  5. One or more poems or non-religious readings by a family member, friend or the celebrant
  6. Committal of the deceased by the celebrant
  7. A final poem or non-religious reading by a family member, friend or the celebrant
  8. Music to leave

How long does a typical funeral service last?

Planning the duration of a funeral service requires a sensitive balance between covering everything that needs to be said and avoiding an over-long funeral that starts to become repetitive. Typically, funeral service times (the duration of the event) are about an hour.

The order of service document

It is usual to give printed funeral programme details to the attendees, often in the form of a simple four-page booklet complete with one or more carefully chosen pictures. The order of service is normally placed on seats, in church pews, or given to mourners as they arrive for the funeral. Not only do funeral service sheets such as this guide the mourners, but they also provide a lasting 'after funeral keepsake' which many people find comforting. After a funeral, the funeral service sheet can also be sent to people who were unable to attend the ceremony.

Order of service booklets range from simple documents (maybe even created and printed at home) through to elaborate professionally printed brochures. Funeral directors often help with their preparation and production.

What do you want in your order of service?

Whatever your choice of content for the order of service (including your choice of images), it is a very personal decision. The Well Planned Funeral's Your Funeral Plans and Wishes product makes it easy to leave instructions for your order of service and ensure that these are communicated to your loved ones after your death. It's another perfect way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled exactly as you want.

Further Information To Help You

Been asked to write a funeral eulogy. Unsure of funeral etiquette? What about the music for funerals?