The NEW Emily Post's Etiquette is now available!
Get a limited signed copy, and support Vermont's independent bookstores.
The family chooses the men and women who will serve as ushers, greeting attendees, handing out programs, and assisting with seating, if needed. Although the funeral home will supply personnel, it's preferable to enlist members of the extended family or close friends who will be more likely to recognize those who attend. The guests can then be seated according to the closeness of their relationship to the family. Contact those you would like to have serve as ushers early on in your planning.
For a funeral or memorial service, the name of the deceased and his date of birth and death are usually printed on the cover of a bulletin or program; a photograph is also a nice addition. The order of service and any other information relative to it, such as aspects of a religious service that may be unfamiliar to those attending, is printed inside. The bulletin may include additional information regarding the burial or interment of ashes. If it follows the service, list this information and include the address if it is at another location. If the burial is private, say so in the bulletin; otherwise it is expected that all who are at the service may also attend the burial. When the service followed the burial, list the date in the program: "Interment took place at Oaklawn Cemetery on June 14."
Reproducing the obituary or death notice on the back cover is a nice idea because some of the attendees may have missed seeing it in the paper. Programs can also include an invitation: "Following the service, all are invited to join the family for lunch at 142 Northwood Boulevard, Colorado Springs."
Some bulletins include a separate sheet for remembrances, which might read, "If you have any memories of Jamie you wish to share with the family, please write them below and place in the basket at the rear exit. They will be most welcome."
Family members or friends may be asked to deliver a eulogy. This should be done in the early stages of planning the funeral or service. Because of the personal nature of the request, ask in person or by phone if possible. Limit eulogists to no more than three, since the officiant will also be speaking.
Family and friends may also be asked to be readers at the funeral or service. As with a eulogist, make the request personally and, unless a person is free to choose the reading, provide her with a copy, preferably in large type, ahead of time so she can practice.
A contribution is generally given to the officiant who presides at the service. Because customs differ from place to place, rely on your funeral director or the secretary at your house of worship to suggest the proper honorarium, since anything from $100 to $300 or more could be appropriate. The check is presented after the service, either by you or your funeral director. Accompanying the check with a personal note of thanks will express your appreciation all the more.
Any professional musicians who play at the service may also be due an honorarium. Consult whoever is planning the service for the appropriate amount.