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How to Write a Funeral Program [Checklist + Advice from a Writer]

Create a meaningful tribute with this funeral program checklist and design tips.
Andrea Schlottman
Published Aug 4, 2021

When a loved one passes away, there are so many important and time-sensitive things to take care of that the funeral program can easily fall off the radar. And that s perfectly understandable! Especially while you re grieving a recent loss, it s difficult to keep up with it all.

The checklist below is a simple resource to help you write your loved one s funeral program, even if you re not sure where to start or have barely enough time to get it done. 

Checklist: 10 Things to Include in a Funeral Program

By incorporating the essential elements below, you ll have a simple but effective funeral program that supports your memorial service and celebrates your loved one.

  1. Title for service: The title can be something as simple as Memorial Service or In Loving Memory. If the service will have a particular tone, then the title can help set that expectation for guests such as Joyful Celebration of Life or Into God s Loving Arms.
  2. Full name: Be sure to include your loved one s full name, including a maiden name or previous family name if those were important to the person.
  3. Photo: Most funeral or memorial service programs include at least one photo of the deceased, often a portrait or similar close-up. 
  4. Important dates: List the date of birth and date of passing.
  5. Brief biography: A short obituary isn t strictly required for a funeral program, but it can be a great way to honor your loved one s life. List key facts such as marriage, children, religious beliefs, professional endeavors, hobbies or passions, and surviving relatives.
  6. Funeral details: Include the location, time, and date of service.
  7. Order of service: How detailed you would like to be regarding the order of service is up to you. Most memorial service programs will include the basic order of service, including the names of any officiants, speakers, pallbearers, or other key participants.
  8. Helpful instructions: If certain parts of the service may be unfamiliar to some, you may want to include an explanatory note. For example, you might instruct guests about the preferred seating arrangement or explain whether certain religious rituals (e.g. communion) are open to everyone.
  9. Reception information: If guests are invited to an interment, burial, reception, or other event after the service itself, list the location, time, and any other key details.
  10. Thank you: Especially for larger memorials with many guests in attendance, it is customary to write a brief thank you from the family, often on the back cover or the bottom of the last page. 

If you haven t started creating your program, MyCreativeShop offers customizable funeral program templates, pre-filled with placeholders for the key elements above. Templates are an easy way to get started with a memorial service brochure, helping to ensure that the most important information is present while still allowing you to personalize the color, font, photos, and more.

Funeral Program and Order of Service Examples

Not sure how the elements above might look? Refer to the funeral program examples below to get some ideas for content, layout, spacing, and organization.

If you see a design you like from the examples below, click the link to get started with the template and then make edits directly in your internet browser.

This order of service brochure template features a two-page spread that lists out the service details. Key personal information is displayed on the front page, and you could add a brief obituary to the back cover if you wanted to share more details.

This memorial service brochure template also features one page for the order of service and one for a brief biography. The background detail of flowers adds visual interest and creates a beautiful design that speaks to the interests of the deceased person.

This celebration of life brochure template dedicates one inner page to the service and one inner page to the obituary. The default font has a joyful feel, although it can easily be changed to something more traditional or somber if that suits your program better.

This obituary brochure template focuses primarily on the person s life story and includes a spot for a quote or religious text. If you wanted to use this template for a memorial service, you could easily add the order of service to the back cover or rearrange the elements as you like.

How to Make a Funeral Program More Special

If you have the basics covered but have some extra space in your program or more time to add some personal flourishes, consider incorporating some of the following details:

  • Additional portraits of the deceased
  • Photos with friends, family, or beloved pets
  • Religious scriptures
  • Hymn lyrics for guests to follow along with
  • Favorite quotes from books or movies
  • Instructions for donations in lieu of flowers
  • Favorite jokes or anecdotes
  • Special acknowledgments
You can get more tips like these in our post on funeral program ideas.

A Few Final Tips for Your Memorial Service Program

Whether you design your funeral program with us or not, we d like to share just a few more recommendations before we go:

  • Proofread: Be sure to have another set of eyes look over your brochure, checking both for grammar/spelling errors as well as content. (For example, were any surviving relatives accidentally left off the list? Is the funeral home location correct? Is the time correct?)
  • Keep it simple: When in doubt, simpler is almost always better. It s better to have too much white space than too little, and it s better to use plain, simple fonts than a fancy script font that can t be read easily. 
  • Rely on photos: Photos are an amazing way to tell a story without words. Adding a background image or a few more photos of your loved one can tie the funeral program together while evoking wonderful memories for the guests in attendance.

We hope that this checklist and additional tips will help you honor your loved one in a special way and will take some of the stress off your plate during this emotionally challenging time. If you d like to go ahead and design and print your program today, you can start with our funeral program templates.

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