Funeral Programs, Funeral Cards, & Memorial Bookmarks: A Primer

The schematics of planning a funeral can be stressful; to put it lightly, there is a lot of ground to cover. Managing all the various components requires a lot of mental strength, organizational skills, and not to mention, plenty of research (which most people lack the necessary time to thoroughly do).

One aspect of funeral planning that can be overlooked in the chaos of everything else are the literature that you’ll hand out to attendees at the ceremony. Funeral programs, funeral cards, and memorial bookmarks are three of the primary options designed to handle this need. Not only does the literature sometimes explain the structure of the ceremony, but it also provides a keepsake for attendees, a tangible reminder of the deceased that they can take home with them. This aspect might be easy to overlook, but it will ultimately prove the foundation of the service.

In this article, we will explore each and what differentiates them from the others as well as its best use case.

Funeral Programs

Funeral programs are relatively short booklets – anywhere between two and five pages – which chronicle the deceased’s life. Sometimes, they describe the agenda for the funeral as well. If you are seeking a more detailed tribute to your departed loved one, this would probably be your best option. You may choose to adorn the program with any particularly meaningful psalms, quotes, lyrics, or poetry. Of all the options, funeral programs offer the most room for creativity in terms of content. Other options may be more stifled by length. You also may be able to choose a certain theme for the funeral program to honor interests of the deceased, like a favorite sport.

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Funeral Cards

Funeral cards are the more succinct cousin of funeral programs. Unlike programs, prayer cards for funerals tend to include only an image of the deceased as well as their date of birth and date of death on one side, with another side dedicated to an appropriate prayer or tribute. Funeral cards are often religious in nature, especially in regards to the Christian religion. In fact, in some cultures treat funeral cards much like baseball cards (you can read this for further information on that context). If you wish to include a version of the obituary, too, this is entirely possible – but you may want to condense it to fit size restraints.

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Memorial Bookmarks

Lastly, memorial bookmarks strike a happy medium between funeral programs and funeral cards. They are also significantly less common than the others, but the most functional – whereas sometimes programs and cards are swept away as keepsakes, bookmarks will be used more often and can serve as a reminder of the deceased’s role in someone’s life. If books or writing were important to the deceased, then this is a very fitting option. You may also want to include copies of the deceased’s favorite book at the ceremony in case anyone is interested in taking one, placing them on a table near the bookmarks. You can choose to customize bookmarks with quotes, lyrics, or verse. Alternatively, you can include a complete version of the deceased’s obituary.

The Best of All Worlds?

It’s important to remember that all of these options are variations on a theme – none are drastically different from the other. It’s plausible that you may want to invest in all three of these options, if your budget and timing permits. As well, you may find that it simply makes the most sense for the situation. In the end, all of these literature options can make touching and meaningful tributes that will carry the deceased’s spirit well beyond the service.

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