If you recently suffered the loss of a loved one and are making the final arrangements for burial, you may ask yourself, "How do I write a funeral program?" Realize that this task does not have to be as overwhelming as it sounds. By following a few simple steps, you can create a beautiful program that funeral guests will want to cherish for years to come.
What Is a Funeral Program
When a person dies and a funeral his held in his or her honor, a program is distributed to those attending the ceremony. It is either designed by the funeral home director or a friend or family member of the deceased individual. If it comes from the funeral home, be prepared to pay a fee for it. However, if you decide to create one yourself, you will not only save a few dollars, but will probably be a bit more personal and meaningful. Typical information included in a funeral program includes:
- Deceased person's full name including maiden name
- Dates of birth and death
- Time, place and date of funeral and burial
- Surviving family members
- Full name of person delivering eulogy
- Titles and artists of songs being played or sung
- Titles and references to any readings or poems
Once you get all of the pertinent information in the funeral program, you may want to include a few optional elements. Remember, these will make the program larger, take longer to prepare and you could incur additional printing fees. However, if you are creating the booklet yourself and are printing them at home or a self-service copy center, the extra cost should be very minimal for additional pages. This information can include:
- Photographs of the deceased person at various stages of life
- Brief biography
- His or her favorite songs, poetry, television shows, books, etc.
- Dates and places of employment
- Names and pictures of pets
- Anecdotes he or she liked
- Time and place of reception
- Sentiments of gratitude from the family to guests
How Do I Write a Funeral Program in a Few Steps
If the death of your loved one occurred suddenly, you only have a few days to gather all of this information and put together a memorable funeral program. But don't fret because it can be done. If you need to quickly put a program together, there are a few things you can do.
1. Gather Personal Information
Enlist the help of other family members or friends to help you, but not necessarily those who are directly involved in the funeral planning, as they will be overwhelmed as it is. Break up the list of information needed and have your helpers obtain it. Give them a deadline of one day prior to funeral report back with what they have found.
2. Use Compatible Software or Templates
A simple word processing program is all you really need to help you create a bi-fold or tri-fold program. However, if you don't have the eye or hand for designing this, ask for help. Nowadays, there is usually one or two people close-by who could help you design the program. You can either use a program such as Adobe Illustrator, SmartDraw, Apple iWorks, Microsoft Publisher or other desktop publishing software. You can also download a funeral program template from one of several available sites. Many of the sites will charge you a fee for the template, although you can find a site or two where you can get it for free:
- The Funeral Program Site sells various templates for different styles of programs. Compatible with both a Mac and a PC.
- Funeral Program Templates has six styles of programs available for free downloading.
- Elegant Memorials has a few styles of programs and thank you notes for a nominal fee.
3. Put Your Program Together
As you are designing your program, make sure it will read in the same order as the funeral service. If you aren't sure, contact the officiant and he or she will be able to guide you. Try not to put in excess information or too much on one page as it will look cluttered. Remember, simpler is better.
4. Choose Images and Fonts
Use tasteful images of the deceased and make sure they are cropped appropriately. Try not to cut off anyone's head or hands! The same goes for the fonts you want to use with the printed material. Stick with one or two scripted fonts; if you use any more than that it will look sloppy and busy. This isn't the time to be colorful either. Stick with black type on white or cream-colored paper.
5. Decide on Your Cover
The cover of your funeral program is what everyone will see first and probably remember the most, so choose it carefully. You could simply select an image of flowers, sunsets, rainbows, etc. You can also put a picture of the deceased on the cover with his or her full name and date of death. Another idea would be to create a collage of images taken throughout the deceased person's life. The possibilities are endless.
6. Select a Printer
You can print your program in one of two ways: At home or at a professional printer. While it may seem cheaper to print it at home, take the cost of paper and ink into consideration. You can also visit one of the many local professional printers (Staples and Office Max for instance) for a printing quote.
If you ever again ask yourself, "How do I write a funeral program," remember it can be done in just a few simple steps. Of course, if the death of a loved one is impending, you do have more time to organize your thoughts. Whatever type of program you create, remember that it will be a lasting memento of the person who died.