Possible order of ceremony

What might your order of ceremony look like?

Each ceremony is designed according to your personal requirements but there are certain elements which most people like to include in addition to the formal aspects such as the committal. The following is just one possible format for a funeral ceremony.

Entry music

Entry music of your choice can be played as friends and family process into the chapel and take their seats. This is usually a solemn moment and it is customary to have a dignified but uplifting piece to accompany the procession.

Words of welcome

Once the mourners are seated the celebrant will be at hand to welcome them and to provide some words of comfort before the ceremony begins.

Reflective reading or poem

The words spoken at this point may be chosen by the chief mourners or may be left to the discretion of the celebrant. This short address may include a reading or a poem reflecting on the nature of life and death or may be a favourite piece of the person who has died, perhaps read by a friend or family member.

The tribute

The tribute (sometimes known as the eulogy) is when friends and family remember key points in the life of their loved one. They may write and deliver it themselves or may have asked the celebrant to write and deliver it on their behalf following an in-depth conversation. It is an occasion for recalling the person who has died with affection, respect and often humour, and a time for honouring and celebrating their life.

Time for personal reflection

Not everyone among the mourners may share the same beliefs about life and death. There will always be a pause in the ceremony for everyone present to remember the individual who has died according to their own faith or way of thinking. Music may also be played at this point.

The committal

This is perhaps the most formal part of the ceremony. It may include the lowering of the coffin (during a burial) or the closing of the curtains (for a cremation) according to the wishes of the family. This may be carried out in silence with mourners standing as a mark of respect, or mourners may prefer to remain seated while a poem or other piece is read.

Closing words

These may include a further short poem or reading aimed at providing a positive end to the ceremony and sending mourners on their way feeling that they have been able to say their goodbyes in a fitting manner. At this point there may also be thanks to various people and information relating, for example, to donations, flowers or refreshments.

Parting music

This marks the end of the ceremony and is often uplifting or inspirational, perhaps a favourite of the person who has died or a song with particularly appropriate lyrics.