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9 Sample Memorial Service Outlines

Memorial services are growing in popularity as more and more families find themselves turning away from the traditional, standard funeral service. If you find yourself in charge of hosting a memorial service, you’ll find the following information useful when planning a memorial service.

How to plan a memorial service

Planning a memorial service may seem like a huge undertaking if you’ve never planned one before, but it doesn’t have to be. A memorial service is customizable -- it can be rigid and structured like a funeral service or it can be a more casual affair. The memorial service order of service is up to you and your loved ones (or up to the preferences of the person who passed away). There’s no one right way to hold one.

If you’re in charge of planning a memorial service, here are some questions you’ll want to ask before you get started:

  1. How many people do we expect to attend?
  2. Where should the service be held?
  3. Do we want there to be food served?
  4. What should the tone of the service be? (Somber, light, celebratory?)
  5. Who should speak, read, or perform during the service?
  6. Should there be any kind of event or structured activity?
  7. What is the weather going to be like when the event is held? (This is useful if you plan on holding the service outdoors.) What’s the budget?

Answering these questions will give you a better idea of the type of service you plan on holding. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can move on to the nuts and bolts of planning the memorial service and figuring out how to conduct a memorial service. For a full guide on this, check out the article on How to Plan a Memorial Service. You’ll be able to find memorial service templates, simple memorial service ideas, and some more complex memorial service ideas which should provide a solid foundation for you moving forward.

How long is a memorial service?

A memorial service’s length depends on a few factors, especially the types of memorial service events that will take place during the service. Since memorial services are customizable, each one can be different and unique in its own way. You can get a general idea of how long the service might take by looking over the memorial service program outline to see what to expect. In general, most memorial services are under an hour in length.

Memorial service order of service

A memorial service order of service is similar to a funeral or celebration of life order of service. It will usually involve a welcoming of some kind, a reading or two, a eulogy, a memorial activity, and a closing. The memorial service event can be anything from a moment of silence to a release of memorial lanterns and serves as a good way to connect everyone in the shared space.

Sample memorial service outline

Here’s a what a general memorial service template could include:

  1. Greeting. Welcoming attendees to the event is customary. If there’s assigned seating, you can direct them to where they can go to sit. You’ll want to give your attendees a memorial program (if there is one) or have it posted somewhere so that folks know what to expect.
  2. Opening reading. Opening a memorial service with a favorite reading, passage, poem, or prayer is a great way to start the service and get everyone in the right headspace.
  3. Eulogy. Eulogies are common at funeral services and can be included just the same in a memorial service. It’s also worth noting that there can be multiple eulogies read by multiple people. If there isn’t a eulogy, this can also be a great time to invite someone to say a few words about the deceased in lieu of a eulogy.
  4. Memorial activity. A memorial activity can be anything from a memorial slideshow to a lantern release to a general toast -- it’s up to you and your family. If you’d like your memorial service to lean more towards the somber side in terms of mood, a memorial slideshow or memory jar reading may be a better fit. If you’re looking for a more celebratory atmosphere, consider a toast or group song as the memorial activity.
  5. Closing reading and thanks. A final passage, prayer, or reading is a great way to end the memorial service for a loved one. Choosing one that was important to the deceased is also a great way to leave attendees with something that was special to the person who passed away. It is also customary to thank those who came for attending at the end of the services.

One page memorial service outlines

Following are one page memorial service program templates you can use if you’re handing out one page flyers or one page memorial service programs. Try to remember that you can always include this information on a memorial website. Including this information on a memorial page is an easy way to skip the printing fees you’d otherwise incur if you had these programs printed.

Example 1

Order of service

Remembering the life of
[Full name of decedent]

Welcome
[Full name of host]

Reading
[Title of reading]
Read by [Full name]

Poem
[Title of poem]
Read by [Full name]

[Name of memorial activity (e.g. Memorial Slideshow)]

Final reading
[Title of reading]
Read by [Full name]

Please keep in touch at our memorial website: [link]


Example 2

Remembering [Name]’s life

Welcome

Prayer
Led by [Full name]

Hymn
Led by [Full name]

Eulogy
Led by [Full name]

Memorial Slideshow

Final farewell

Closing song
[Title of song]
[Artist name]

Our family thanks you, deeply, for joining us in remembering [Full name]’s life. Please share any favorite memories or moments at the memorial website: [link]


Example 3

The beautiful life of [Full name of decedent]

Welcoming song
Sung by [Full name]

Opening reading
Led by [Full name]

Eulogy
Read by [Full name]

Closing toast
Given by [Full name]

We thank you for joining us in remembering [Name]’s wonderful, beautiful, and full life. Please consider making a contribution to [charity name] in honor of [name], which you can do on [his/her] memorial website: [link]

Two page memorial service outlines

A two page memorial service program includes a bit more space for additional information or content. Instead of providing just the service outline, you can include a larger photo of the deceased, a full obituary, passage content, and more.

Example 1

Page 1

Obituary
[Full obituary]

[Photo of decedent]

Page 2

Order of service

Welcome

Reading
Read by [Full name]

Poem
Written by [Writer’s full name]
Read by [Full name]

Reflections from family

Eulogy
Ready by [Full name]

Acknowledgments

Closing song
Performed by [Full name]

Thank you for joining us.

We wanted to thank you for joining us at [Name]’s memorial service. Your kindness and love towards our family during this difficult time has not gone unnoticed and we are eternally grateful to have so many in our community. [Name] was a special person and we’re honored to have you here, remembering [his/her] life.


Example 2

Page 1

[Title of poem or passage]
[Content of poem or passage]
Written by [Author’s full name]

[Photo of decedent]

Page 2

Order of service

Welcome

Reading

Opening song
Performed by [name]

Eulogy
Read by [Full name]

Closing prayer
Led by [Full name]

Thank you so much to all who have helped us during this difficult time.


Example 3

Page 1

[Title of Song] by [Artist name]

[Song Lyrics]

[Photo of decedent]

Page 2

Order of service

Welcome

Poem
Written by [Full name]
Read by [Full name]

Group share
Led by [Full name]

Closing thoughts

Thank you for joining us in remembering and celebrating the life of [Name].

Please consider staying connected with us at the memorial website we’ve set up for [Full name]: [link]


Three page memorial service outlines

A three page memorial service program has the most potential to include as much information as you’d like about the deceased. This is a great opportunity to share the full obituary, one or two photos, favorite passages, full text of songs or poems to be read, or messages from the family to those attending the event.

Example 1

Page 1

Remembering the life of
[Full name]
[Photo of decedent]
[Date of birth] - [Date of death]

Event information
[Date of event]
[Time]
[Location]
[Attire, if applicable]

Page 2

Obituary
[Full obituary]
[Secondary photo]

Page 3

Order of service

Welcome and introduction

Reading
Read by [Full name]

Opening song
Sung by [name]

Eulogy
Read by [name]

Memorial slideshow

Reflections from family

Farewell

Thank you, all, for being with us as we join in remembering the life of [Full name]. Please continue to share your memories here: [link to memorial website]


Example 2

Page 1

The incredible life of
[Full name]
[Photo of decedent]
[Date of birth] - [Date of death]

Services
[Date of event]
[Time]
[Location]

Page 2

Obituary
[Full obituary]

[Quote] - [Author’s full name]

Page 3

Order of service

Welcome and introduction

Opening song
Sung by [name]

Memorial slideshow

Open invitation to share memories

Closing reading
Written by [Full name]
Read by [Full name]

Our family thanks you for joining us on this special, but difficult, day. If you haven’t already, please give the memorial site a visit: [link]


Example 3

Page 1

The life of
[Full name]
[Photo of decedent]
[Date of birth] - [Date of death]

Obituary
[Full obituary]

Page 2

[Title of passage] by [Author’s full name]
[Passage content]

Page 3

Order of service

Welcome and seating

Poem
Read by [name]

Eulogy
Read by [name]

Reflections from friends

Closing reading
Read by [name]

[Favorite quote of decedent]


No matter the type of program you decide to go with, setting up a memorial website in addition to your program gives you much more space and flexibility to share important information about the memorial service event. You can inform your community about upcoming changes or additional events, collect memories, raise funds, and much more.

Start a memorial website

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Last updated September 10, 2021
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