In short, an Order of Service is a document that will tell the mourners at a funeral what is going to happen within the next 30 minutes (be aware that some funerals are 20 minutes). So, who would you create one and why do you need to create an Order of Service. You will be given an Order of Service when you attend a funeral.
You can create your own Order of Service or have your funeral director or a printer create one for you. There are several items that need to be included in your order of service, and this article will help you with the process and make it easier for you when creating your own Order of Service.
It is important to note that you can run and organize a funeral yourself. However, we would advise that you ask a celebrant to help you. The celebrant can either run the service for you or guide you through the process. There will be a fee for their services (the fee is often covered in the costs from the Funeral Director or your funeral plan), but it will make the funeral much easier for you if you decide to run the service yourself. An Order of Service is an integral part of the funeral process.
It lets the mourner, you, and the crematorium staff know what to do during the service. It also details what is expected from the congregation. An Order of Service will be handed to mourners at the chapel entrance or are placed on the chapel seats.
Many people are unfamiliar with the process and procedure of a funeral. For some, it is a strange and scary setting, especially if you are attending because of the loss of a loved one. After all, it is not an everyday event. As a guest, you don’t want to do anything wrong; you want to show support and respect. This is where the Order of Service comes in. It is a step-by-step guide to what is going to happen during the funeral service. You could look at an Order of Service as a meeting agenda or a recipe.
Most orders of services are A5 (an A4 piece of paper folded in half). On the front of an Order of Service will be the name of the deceased; for example
After the name will be the deceased date of birth and date of death
The next page will list the events taking place during the service. There will be the song name and artist. This will take 2 minutes.
There will be a welcome message and the name of the celebrant or person leading the service, followed by the opening words. This will take 2 minutes
Then we have the eulogy. The eulogy will be read by the celebrant or the next of kin. The celebrant will have written the eulogy in conjunction with the next of kin. In some circumstances, the next of kin may have written the entire eulogy, or the deceased may have written their own eulogy. This will be decided before the service. There may also be family or friends who wish to speak during the eulogy, and they will be added to the order of service. The eulogy will take around 15 minutes.
After the eulogy, you will then have some reflection time or praying time accompanied by some music. This will last around 4 minutes.
A member of the deceased family or friends or the celebrant may read a poem or ask the congregation to say the Lord’s Prayer. If the Lord’s Prayer is being said, the printed prayer will be included so everyone can say the prayer together. Saying the Lord’s Prayer is optional. You do not have to have any religious aspect to a funeral service.
It is now time for the committal to take place. Everyone will face the coffin and say their quiet goodbyes. The immediate family may lay a rose or flowers on the coffin. Children may put a picture they have drawn for the deceased or written letters. The committal will last about 3 minutes.
The coffin will remain in situ, but the curtains may be drawn around the coffin. This is a decision the next of kin will make. It is common for the curtains not to be drawn as most mourners wish to touch the coffin on their exit to say a private goodbye to the deceased.
It may sound morbid, but it gives a lot of comfort to the mourners, and people touch the coffin without realizing they are doing it. This is the last goodbye to the person they loved and spent time with.
There will then be the closing words, where the celebrant will thank everyone for coming to the service, thank the funeral directors and crematorium staff. This will take around 4 minutes.
Finally, there will be some exit music.
On the last page of the Order of Service, you can add additional photographs, a song or a poem the deceased has written. Sam with his son Luke, two weeks after his birth. Then Sam, Elizabeth and Alice. Luke and Mary playing on the beach. There will also be directions to the celebration tea or wake/party after the service.
Some people will choose to add a charity for donations in the deceased’s name instead of bringing flowers. A funeral generally lasts 30 minutes. This includes entering the chapel and leaving.
Approximate timings are as follows:
Entering the Chapel – 2 minutes
Introductions – 2 minutes
Eulogy – 15 minutes
Reflection – 4 minutes
Committal – 3 minutes
Exit – 4 minutes
Please be aware there are some crematoriums that only offer services for 20 minutes. If this is the case, the above times will need to be adjusted.
Written by, APC Celebrant - Julie Farmer, Jan 2022