How to create a perfect funeral invitation

How to create a perfect funeral invitation

by Jon Crawford2023-09-290

When we lose a loved one, it’s essential to inform their family and friends of the funeral or memorial service. A funeral invitation is the formal way of doing this. 

The way we communicate has changed over time. What has remained constant is the content of such messages. An effective funeral notice - regardless of the medium it is sent by - should be respectful in its tone and tell mourners the date, time and place of the service, the dress code and the wishes of the deceased.

This article is designed to give an insight into the evolution of the funeral invitation through the ages and provide helpful inspiration and guidance to those who need to design a personalised invitation or are perhaps ‘lost for words’ when faced with the task of saying goodbye to somebody close to them.

Here to help you 

At Fenix we always try to make all aspects of funeral planning as stress-free and simple as possible. We hope the information in this guide will help inform you of the many options available when creating funeral invitations.

If you have further questions or need assistance with any aspect of creating the perfect funeral service or wills and post-life legal services, you can contact us at any time for impartial advice and non-binding quotations with no hidden costs.

A short history of funeral invitations in the UK

Funeral invitations in the UK have evolved over time. From simple gothic cards in the 1700s, to elaborately embossed invitations in Victorian times, to online tributes and invites popular today, they have been a perennial element of the funeral process.  

The 1700s

In the 1700s, funeral invitations in the UK were typically simple cards that were printed in black ink. The cards would state the name of the deceased and date, time and location of the funeral. In some cases, the cards might also include a brief obituary.

It is interesting to note that these invitations were sometimes referred to as ‘tickets’ and, true to this moniker, they were often required for admission to the funeral service. 

Some were elaborately illustrated in a style that can only be called ‘gothic’ - or even macabre - by modern standards. Skulls, skeletons, coffins and other memento mori (reminders of death) adorned the clandestine cards. 

Viewed from a modern standpoint, the designs are dark - and somewhat terrifying - compared to modern funeral invitations that usually feature a neutral colour scheme, floral patterns or a heartwarming, happy picture of the deceased.

Victorian era 

Death was somewhat the fashion in the Victorian era and extravagant public displays of mourning were common - and encouraged. Funerals became more elaborate and people wore mourning clothes for long periods of time. This was due in part to the influence of Queen Victoria's mourning period for Prince Albert and the way it affected the nation’s psyche.

Funeral invitations of this time mirrored this trend, becoming more intricate, often with embossed mourning symbols and detailed illustrations. They still had a fairly macabre style to them. Heavy black borders, weeping willows, images of coffins, tombstones and urns were all commonplace.

The tone of funeral invitations during the Victorian era was strictly formal. Invitations would typically begin with the words "To invite you to attend the funeral" and would end with the phrase "Deeply regret."

The elaborate mourning symbols and formal text of funeral invitations in the Victorian era reflected the deep respect and grief that families felt for their loved ones who had passed away.

20th Century

The trends of the Victorian era were carried over into the early 20th century, but as the years went by, funeral invitations became less ornate. They were typically printed on a simple card stock and retained the black border, but were mainly text-based with fewer illustrations. Sent out to family and friends of the deceased, these invitations sometimes functioned as both a death notice and a funeral invite. They were still formally worded.

Some social historians have made a connection between the horrific amounts of lives lost in the First World War and the relaxing of funeral traditions. Millions of British lives were lost in France and Germany, their bodies buried on the continent with no formal funeral at home.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the trend towards more informal funeral invitations continued, again perhaps accelerated by many more millions of lives lost in the Second World War. Simple cards sent ahead of funerals would often feature a short obituary and a personal message from the family of the deceased.

As society became increasingly secular throughout the 20th century, funeral invitations became less formal again and new communication channels began to challenge printed media.

21st Century

These days people may be more likely to break the news of the death of a loved one and their funeral service by telephone, instant messaging, social media or email. So the funeral invitation has evolved and there are no hard and fast rules about what it should be. 

A funeral invitation in the UK now could be as simple as a text message, a digital invite designed online and posted directly to social media, a plain card through the mail or as eye-catching as a large poster or a video online.

Timeless messaging 

Despite this evolution, there are still some common elements that can be found in funeral invitations today. For example, most funeral invitations will still include the name of the deceased, the date, time, and location of the funeral, and a brief obituary.

Writing a funeral invitation

Not everyone will opt to use printed funeral invitations sent through the mail. Regardless of the way you are informing people of the sad news, however, there are certain details that you should always include and ways of communicating that are appropriate for the circumstances.

What details are often included in a funeral invitation?

  • The name of the deceased
  • Their date of birth and death
  • The funeral or memorial venue, date and time
  • RSVP if required and contact details 
  • Personal requests from deceased or family
  • Dress code 
  • Preferences about flowers and donations
  • Details of any wake if there is one planned following the funeral

Using the right tone for funeral invitations

When writing a funeral invitation or notice, the tone should by default be respectful, sincere and simple. You can pay tribute to the deceased by including any wishes they had for the funeral regarding dress code and themes. You might also find that depending on the deceased’s character and the type of funeral or celebration planned, the invitation will be written in a formal or more informal manner.

Making a start - opening words for a funeral invitation

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a funeral invitation can be the opening words. If you are struggling to make a start, here are some examples of opening phrases for a timeless funeral invitation.

  • “We invite you to join us in celebrating the life of …”
    This phrase is a way to show that the funeral is not just a time to mourn the loss of the deceased, but also a time to celebrate their life.
  • “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of…”
    This phrase is a way to express your grief over the loss of the deceased.
  • “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of…”
    This phrase is similar to the previous one, but it is a bit more formal.
  • “Please join us in mourning the loss of…”
    This phrase is a way to ask people to come together to support the family of the deceased.
  • “We would be honoured if you would join us in saying farewell to…”
    This phrase is a way to express your gratitude to people for coming to the funeral.

Personalising funeral invitations with pictures

It’s common to have a happy picture of the deceased on the front of the funeral invitation if you are printing physical copies or to accompany a post on social media. This helps people remember your loved-one, humanising and adding some joy to sombre news.

Most people now have a huge amount of pictures of their loved-ones on their mobile phone and backed up in the cloud. These can often provide the perfect image. Or, some people might opt for a picture from further back in the past, scanned and digitally retouched.

Adding a quotation to funeral invitations

These quotes and religious sentences can provide comfort, reflection, and inspiration to those who receive the funeral invitation, helping them to remember and honour the life of the deceased. Depending on the individual's beliefs and the tone of the funeral, you can select one that rings true to their character, or alternatively, use these as a starting point to find your own words.

“In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln

“Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” - Rossiter W. Raymond

“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” - Helen Keller

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” - Thomas Campbell

“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky but openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” - Eskimo Proverb

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” - John 14:1

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” - Kahlil Gibran

“In the garden of memory, in the palace of dreams... that is where you and I shall meet.” - Lewis Carroll

“The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” - Irving Berlin

Five examples of funeral invitation wording to inspire you

In Loving Memory of ______ ______

  • With great sorrow, we announce the passing of ______ ______ on [date]._______ lived with dignity and resolve and was an inspiration to many people. A devoted husband/wife to [spouse] and father/mother/aunty to [children/relatives], they will be sorely missed.

Please join us in honouring and remembering their life. Your presence will bring solace to our whole family at this difficult time.

Date, time and venue information.

  • With heavy hearts, please join us in paying our final respects to ______ ______.
  • ______ ______ passed away on [date] after a long and valiant battle with illness. Despite their determination, it was a battle they could not win.
  • Although this news is devastating, we look forward to coming together with family, friends and colleagues of ______ to remember and cherish the moments we shared with them.
  • Your presence will be a great comfort to the family during this difficult time. 

Donations in lieu of flowers to [charity].

Date, time and venue information.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. - Dr Suess

  • We invite you to celebrate the life of ______ ______

Date, time and venue information.

  • Dress code: casual and comfortable and no black, according to ______’s wishes.

It means so much to us to have ______’s many friends and family here with us to share stories and memories in remembrance. Let’s celebrate ______’s life with dancing, joy and laughter - just as they would have wanted.

Donations in lieu of flowers to [charity].

In Loving Memory.

Please join us to say farewell to ______ who passed away on [date]..

Date, time and venue information.

Your messages of support and love kept us all going through the toughest of times..

We are having a small gathering of close family and friends and sharing memories and stories of ______.  

Please bring any photographs or mementos to add to a memory board at the service.

Scattering of ashes and memorial walk

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

Join us for a walk in nature to celebrate the life of ______.

Thank you so much for your messages of condolence and support of the past few months, they really mean a lot to us all. We are still missing  ______ everyday, as we are sure you are too.

Join us on [date] at [place] for a short hike along one of ______’s favourite routes where we will release ______’s ashes and share stories and remembrance.

Wear some comfortable clothes suitable for walking and please bring a dish for a picnic lunch.

Can funeral directors create and print funeral invitations?

Many people ask this question when they contact us to arrange a funeral. Thankfully, the answer is yes, funeral directors are usually experienced in creating bespoke funeral notices and orders of service and can arrange everything from design to print. 

If this is a service you are interested in when booking a funeral with Fenix, mention it to us when you make contact and our staff will be able to provide you with all the options.

Online tools and templates for funeral announcements

If you need to get a funeral invitation drafted and printed at short notice the good news is that you don’t have to be a graphic designer. A quick online search will show many handy design tools, templates and online printing companies. 

Most require only very basic tech knowledge and use attractive preset templates that are editable to include your own personalised wording and images. The best platforms will even give you the option of sharing your custom invitation directly to social media, via SMS or having them professionally printed and delivered ahead of the funeral.

Some recommended tools for creating custom funeral invitations

Canva has a selection of editable templates for funeral invitations. Canva has a user-friendly interface and you can customise templates without knowing a lot about computers and design. Once you are happy with your invitation online it can be downloaded for printing locally or by another online company. Some formats can be printed directly by Canva and delivered.

This site has a large selection of easy-to-edit templates for funeral announcements and invitations. You can choose whether to have your final design printed and delivered (usually in 3-4 working days, 2 days for express service) or download it to print locally, or share online.

Paperless Post also has lots of funeral invitation templates that are easily personalised. You can import spreadsheets of contacts for all the people you want to invite to the funeral or memorial service and include RSVPs in these invitations so you can track exact numbers of guests. This is particularly handy if there will be a wake after the ceremony. The invitations can of course easily be shared online.

Announcing a funeral on social media

We live in a digital age and social media is the most common way people share news. Posting a funeral announcement online can reach a large number of people quickly and is cost effective for those who are planning a funeral on a budget. 

It is an effective way of informing a wider social circle of the sad news, including friends and family members who may be living abroad or out of regular contact.

Just like sending a traditional printed invitation, however, posting a funeral or death announcement on Facebook or your chosen platform requires sensitivity, thoughtfulness and respect for privacy. 

Here are some tips on how to navigate this process:

1. Choose the right time to post the funeral announcement

  • Make sure family members and immediate loved ones have been informed personally before posting anything online. Social media should not be the primary means of notification.
  • Consider the grieving process and wait a reasonable amount of time after the passing before making the announcement.

2. Write a thoughtful message

  • Start with a compassionate and heartfelt message. Begin by acknowledging the loss and expressing condolences.
  • Share some key information, such as the name of the deceased, date of passing, and any significant details about the circumstances if appropriate.

3. Think about privacy when posting 

  • Review your privacy settings. Should the post be public, visible to friends only, or limited to a specific group of people?
  • Some families prefer to create a private group or event where they can share updates and memories without it being visible to the wider public.

4. Share a photograph of the deceased

  • Consider adding a meaningful photo of the deceased. A cherished picture can evoke positive memories and make the post more personal.

5. Double check all funeral details before posting

  • Make sure any details about the funeral are 100% confirmed to be correct by all of the family and the funeral director. Getting anything wrong could cause major upset!
  • Include the most important information those attending the funeral will need: the date, time, location and dress code.
  • You can also provide a link to a dedicated online memorial page or website for those seeking more information.

6. Encourage condolences:

  • Invite friends and connections to share their condolences, memories, or stories in the comments section.
  • Respond to comments with gratitude and appreciation for the support.

7. Avoid oversharing:

  • While it's essential to share the news and pay tribute, avoid sharing overly graphic or distressing details about the circumstances of the passing. Maintain a dignified tone. Don’t post anything that you think will cause upset to those closest to the deceased.

8. Monitor the Post:

  • Keep an eye on the post to ensure that comments and interactions remain respectful. Remove any offensive or inappropriate comments promptly.

9. Respect Wishes and Cultural Practices:

  • Be mindful of the family's wishes and cultural practices regarding sharing news of the passing. Different cultures have varying customs when it comes to announcing death.

10. Ongoing Updates and Remembrances:

  • After the initial announcement, consider using the same post or creating follow-up posts to share updates on memorial services, charitable donations, or other related information.
  • Continue to share memories and stories about the deceased to keep their memory alive in a positive way.

Posting a funeral or death announcement on social media can be a valuable tool for sharing information and receiving support during a difficult time. However, it should always be done with the utmost sensitivity and respect for the feelings and preferences of the grieving family and friends.

We hope this guide has been useful in answering your questions around funeral invitations. If you would like to learn more about the comprehensive services we offer, contact us today.

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Frequently asked questions

The invitation should include the deceased's name, birth and death dates, the funeral venue, date and time, RSVP details, dress code and any special requests from the deceased or family.
It should be respectful, sincere, and simple, reflecting the character of the deceased and the nature of the ceremony.
Yes, a respectful and happy picture of the deceased is often included, especially if physical copies are made, or the invitation is shared on social media.
Phrases like "We invite you to join us in celebrating the life of..." or "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of..." are common.

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