The Funeral Reception

A funeral reception, or ‘wake’ as they are traditionally known, is an event where mourners gather to remember the person who has passed. It should serve as an event where the deceased can be respectfully celebrated and where those who are grieving can find some comfort as they share time with others who are also mourning. There are three basic elements of arranging a funeral reception: the venue, the catering and the condolences.

Finding a funeral reception venue

A reception venue can range from a private one, within a family or friend’s home, or within a restaurant, pub, social club or place of religious worship. Whilst a friend or family member’s home may seem to be both a nice option for the privacy and potentially for the emotional ties that the deceased one had, you need to consider that hosting such a gathering is no straight forward task, and maintaining a smile all day, afternoon or evening long whilst looking after guests can be a notoriously difficult challenge.

For this reason many opt instead for an impartial space, where mourners may be served instead by staff and with the catering all arranged, served and cleaned away without the organiser’s intervention.

Most notably the costs for hiring a reception venue, based upon an average of 30 people, comes to £170 (Citizens Advice Bureau).

However such an option needn't add to the expense of the funeral, with many venues offering a free space as they benefit from the drinks that may be purchased. One factor you may need to consider, however, if whether the venue allows for outside caterers and if not, what options that provide and at what cost.

Searching for a caterer

Most catering companies can flex and fit to meet your needs in relation to catering and are often able to put together a menu around your requests. What’s more such an option often comes in at far lower a cost than many imagine, with food delivered all ready to be served upon garnished platters. You can use our dedicated page to find a caterer near to you.

Dietary considerations:

A further complication to consider when arranging catering is dietary requirements, these may include:

  • Vegetarians and vegans;
  • Religious restrictions;
  • Allergies.

  • Ideally you should inform your guests that they should get in touch with you prior to the day to discuss any specific dietary requirements, so you can talk with the caterers directly about accommodating these people

    Offering condolences

    For those who were closest to the deceased sending condolences in the form of a card and some carefully chosen words can often be a source of comfort, and can also help the sender in expressing their feelings of grief.

    Condolences can be paid ahead of the funeral with cards sent to the immediate family of the deceased, in which instance an address provided upon the funeral invitation will suffice.

    Read our complete guide to offering condolences

    Further reading

    Funeral Receptions: A guide to organising a funeral reception and choosing the right venue.