Checklist: Plan a Funeral or Memorial Service

When planning a funeral or memorial service, there are many aspect of the service that you can plan and personalize, from features to readings and songs to participants. If you are planning a religious service, many of the features of the service may be dictated by religious tradition; speak with your local clergy to learn more about your community's customs.

Some things you may want to consider including in the funeral or memorial service you're planning include:

  • Choose a funeral conductor or officiant to lead the service
    If you’ll be having the service at a religious place of worship, the religious leader there will likely lead the service according to traditional practices. If you're having the service at another location, you can choose whoever you like to officiate the service.

  • Choose pallbearers to carry or escort the casket
    If any people whom you would like to have as pallbearers are not physically capable of carrying the weight of a casket, those people can be made “honorary pallbearers” and can walk beside or behind the casket.

  • Choose people to deliver eulogies
    Family members, friends, clergy, and/or funeral conductors often give eulogies.

  • Choose people to deliver readings or prayers at the service
    • Select the readings or prayers you'd like people to read. 
      If the service is religious, there may be traditional prayers or hymns that should be read

  • Choose the type of flower arrangements you'd like to have at the service
    • Purchase the arrangements on your own or through the funeral home
      Common flower arrangements include casket sprays, which cover a casket; standing sprays, which are displayed on an easel and are shaped in the form of bouquets, wreaths, hearts, crosses, and other designs; and bouquets in baskets or vases

    • Designate someone to remove flowers from the venue
  • Choose songs or music you'd like to have played or performed
    If you will be playing music, make sure the venue can accommodate the technology

  • Decide on an order of events for the service
    • If you'd like, print programs for the service or have the funeral home print programs for you
      Funeral programs usually contain the order of the service (including the names of participants and any readings or musical pieces that are performed) as well as an obituary.

  • Purchase a guestbook and pens
    • Arrange for someone to put these out at the service and collect them after the service
      Guestbooks allow the family to know who attended the funeral.