What is an Order of Service?

An Order of Service is a crucial document that provides mourners with a clear outline of what will occur during a funeral service, typically within a 30-minute timeframe (although some funerals may be shorter, lasting only 20 minutes). Whether you choose to create your own Order of Service or enlist the help of a funeral director or printer, there are essential elements that should be included to ensure a smooth and organised service. This article aims to guide you through the process and simplify the creation of your own Order of Service.

While it is possible to run and organise a funeral independently, we highly recommend seeking the assistance of a celebrant. A celebrant can either lead the service on your behalf or provide guidance throughout the process. Although their services come at a fee (often covered by the Funeral Director or your funeral plan), having a celebrant involved can significantly ease the burden of running the service yourself. An Order of Service plays a vital role in the funeral proceedings, as it informs mourners, yourself, and the crematorium staff about the sequence of events during the service. It also outlines the expectations for the congregation. Mourners will receive a copy of the Order of Service upon entering the chapel or find them placed on the chapel seats.

But why is having an Order of Service necessary?

Many individuals are unfamiliar with the procedures and protocols of a funeral. For some, attending a funeral can be an unsettling and intimidating experience, especially when it involves the loss of a loved one. After all, it is not an everyday occurrence. As a guest, you want to ensure that you show support and respect without making any inadvertent mistakes. This is where the Order of Service becomes invaluable. It serves as a step-by-step guide, akin to a meeting agenda or a recipe, providing a clear understanding of what will transpire during the funeral service. <br> Now, let's delve into how to write an Order of Service.

Most Orders of Service are formatted as A5 size, which is an A4 piece of paper folded in half. The front cover of the Order of Service will typically feature the name of the deceased, such as:

In Loving Memory of 

Samuel Anderson 

Followed by the date of birth and date of death: 

27 August 1978 – 1 January 2021 

Poole Crematorium <br> 18 January 2021 at 11.30 am

The subsequent page will outline the various events that will occur during the service. Each event will be accompanied by the name of the song and artist, along with an estimated duration. For example:

Entry Music - Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf (2 minutes)

The Order of Service will then proceed with a welcome message, including the name of the celebrant or person leading the service, followed by the opening words (2 minutes):


Julie Farmer, Forget Me Not Celebrant, an Independent Funeral Celebrant

Opening Words and Introductions

Next, the eulogy will be presented. The eulogy can be delivered by the celebrant or the next of kin, and it is typically a collaborative effort between the two. In some cases, the next of kin may have written the entire eulogy, or the deceased may have left behind their own words. The decision regarding the eulogy's delivery will be made prior to the service. Additionally, family members or friends may express their desire to speak during the eulogy, and their contributions will be added to the Order of Service. The eulogy is expected to last approximately 15 minutes.


 Reflections of my brother by Ian Anderson

Following the eulogy, there will be a period of reflection or prayer accompanied by music, lasting around 4 minutes.

Reflection Music

Monsters by James Blunt

A member of the deceased's family, friends, or the celebrant may choose to read a poem or invite the congregation to recite the Lord's Prayer. If the Lord's Prayer is included, a printed version will be provided to enable everyone to participate. It is important to note that the inclusion of religious elements in a funeral service is optional, and it is entirely possible to have a non-religious service.

Poem – Remember Me By David Harkins

Read by Emma Anderson

The committal will then take place, during which everyone will face the coffin and bid their quiet farewells. The immediate family members may choose to place flowers or personal items on the coffin at this time. The committal is a solemn moment and is typically accompanied by instrumental music or a hymn. The duration of the committal will vary depending on the number of attendees and their individual farewells.


Instrumental Music – Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (5 minutes)

After the committal, there may be a time for additional reflections or tributes from family and friends. This is an opportunity for loved ones to share memories, stories, or special moments they shared with the deceased. Each speaker should be given a specific time limit to ensure that the service remains within the designated timeframe.

Reflections and Tributes

Tribute by Sarah Johnson (3 minutes)

Tribute by Mark Thompson (4 minutes)

The Order of Service will then include a closing message or prayer, followed by a final piece of music. The closing message can be a heartfelt message of gratitude, a final farewell, or a prayer for peace and comfort. The final piece of music should be chosen to create a sense of closure and provide a moment for reflection.

Closing Message

Closing Words by Julie Farmer (2 minutes)

Final Music – Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman (4 minutes)

The back cover of the Order of Service can include additional information, such as details about the wake or reception following the service, any charitable donations being collected in memory of the deceased, or contact information for the funeral director or celebrant.

It is important to note that the above example is just a template and can be customised to fit the specific wishes and preferences of the deceased and their family. The Order of Service should reflect the individuality and personality of the person being honoured.

Once the Order of Service has been finalised, it can be printed and distributed to mourners at the funeral service. It is also a good idea to have extra copies available for those who may have missed out or for family members who may want to keep a copy as a memento.

Creating an Order of Service can be a meaningful and cathartic process, allowing you to honour and remember your loved one in a personalised and thoughtful way. By providing a clear outline of the funeral service, you can help ease the anxiety and uncertainty that often accompanies attending a funeral.

Written by, APC Celebrant - Julie Farmer