You probably already recognize the importance of having funeral programs available for commemorating your deceased loved one, but you might not have the faintest clue how to go about actually creating one. What may seem like a lofty undertaking … actually is not so bad. Fear not, while the time surrounding a funeral can be full of seemingly chaos, a funeral program is one thing you need not worry about; if you follow our guide below, the process can be quite effortless.
First Step: Decide on Size
It goes without saying that you’ll want to start by building a foundation for your house – in this case, the size of your programs. You can opt for a single fold program, which tends to be about the size of a letter. This option may be best if you have a lot of information about your loved one (e.g., an obituary on top of an agenda for the service, possibly some tributes from friends and family). Similarly, tabloid size would work for more content-heavy programs, too. Tri-fold is ideal for programs that contain less information.
Second Step: Choose Your Design
Once you’ve settled on the appropriate size, determining your design is the natural next step. If you’re more creative, you might want to create a design yourself. However, if you’re more strapped for time and lean less on the design side of things, you’ll want to use a template. There are plenty of templates at your fingertips – some are free while some may cost a small price. A word of caution: You’ll want to ensure you have the right software to open your template once you’ve downloaded it (probably not a bad idea to take care of this ahead of time).
No matter if you use a template or do it yourself, the most important aspect of your design is that it reflects the spirit of your loved one. If they were an avid outdoors lover, you might want to go with an outdoors theme. If they had an upbeat personality, you might want to pick a design full of bright colors.
Third Step: Gather and Edit Your Information
You can opt to do this step ahead of time, but ultimately, your size and design will dictate how much information you should include in the program, so holding off until those are determined makes sense (and saves time). For this step, you’ll want to ensure you have the following:
The official obituary that will appear in local media (complete with photo)
The confirmed agenda of the service (you’ll want to verify that the agenda has been settled upon, as any changes could be confusing to the attendees)
Additional photos and/or content (perhaps a friend or family member would like to include a story with the program – reach out to any involved parties before finalizing the program)
Next, you’ll need to edit the information to fit any constraints due to the size or design. Take care to confirm no sentences or cut off or no information is left by the wayside due to margins, spacing, etc. As part of the editing process too, you’ll want to proofread your content to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors throughout the program. Run spell check or similar programs, or have someone else read over the program.
Remember – this is an incredibly sensitive project. Even though a program may not seem like the most fundamental component of a funeral, it still deserves the same honor and esteem as the service and the display.
Fourth Step: Arrange for Printing
You can choose to print your programs at home, should you have a quality printer, enough paper, and a good supply of ink. If you print them yourself, it’s important to use the right sort of paper – think cardstock – so the programs are printed with high resolution and in a way that mimics professional quality.
Otherwise, you can find a local printing shop to handle the printing for you. This option may err more on the expensive side, but consider what other funeral components you must prepare for in addition and the time necessary to complete those. In the end, taking your finalized program designs in an USB or cloud file to a shop might be your most convenient option, and the cost will make itself up in time saved.
Did You Forget Anything?
These steps account for the bulk of the funeral program creation process, but it’s best to be thorough and go back to review what you’ve done. Especially if you’re pressed for time and are more likely to skip over pieces in the rush to completion.
Here is a sanity-check checklist to lessen your likelihood of forgetting anything as you create the funeral program.
Have you spoken to those closest to your loved one?
Should the loved one have any close friends or a partner or children you haven’t consulted, you may wish to get their blessing on the program before proceeding any further.
Did you include the most up-to-date information?
As we hinted to earlier, you’ll need to verify, verify, verify before finalizing. Especially as far as the service agenda is concerned and the obituary (there may have been sudden adjustments in the time since you started working on the program). Before printing, contact anyone who may be privy to any such information to avoid a faux pas.
Does the program honor your loved one’s memory?
It’s imperative to capture the essence of your departed loved one in the program. The program should align with their style and who people remember them as. Refrain from a style that seems too formal or stuffy for someone who was more laid back, or vice versa.
Do you have adequate supplies to handle the number of expected programs?
Should you print programs yourself, it never hurts to do a once-over before you hit the “print” button to ensure you won’t be scrambling for paper or toner in the middle of printing. Albeit not an unsolvable roadblock, it’s certainly an unneeded headache.
With some careful thought and deliberation, creating a funeral program can be relatively efficient and cause you little stress. And ultimately, you can walk away with a lasting tribute to your loved one that is accurate of who they were during their lifetime.