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Planning a Funeral Reception

While never mandatory, it’s common to hold a reception after a funeral or memorial service to give guests a chance to talk with one another and express their feelings in a more casual environment. If you choose to host one, here are some tips and considerations to help with process.

Start with tone

What kind of feel do you want the event to have? Would you prefer it feel more somber or more like a celebration of the person’s life? This will help influence other decisions in the funeral reception planning process. When thinking of the tone you'd like to have at the event, consider your loved one's wishes, their life, how they lived their life, what kind of events they found important or meaningful, and small things they'd said throughout their life that might help you make a decision. If they were a more serious and formal person, holding a celebration of life may not be the best choice.

Consider asking for help

Do you have a friend or family member who can help you with logistics? When grief is at its strongest, even basic arrangements can feel extremely difficult, so reach out to see if you can find someone to assist you along the way. Most friends and family are actively looking for ways they can help support their loved ones after a loss. Asking for help with even the smaller aspects of funeral planning can be a huge relief on your mental load.

Pick a location

Traditionally, most funeral receptions have been at the funeral home or a family home, but trends are starting to shift to a wider variety of locations. On Ever Loved, we see many families host funeral receptions at restaurants, bars, outdoor spaces, social clubs, and other favorite locations of the deceased. If you're holding a celebration of life, it often expands the available locations to you due to the more casual and joyful nature of the event.

Determine your budget and organize food and beverages

Decide how much you feel comfortable spending and estimate the number of people you think will attend. To keep costs low, consider making the event a potluck or a cash bar. Asking for friends and family to help with the cooking and food costs is a great way to get assistance in this area. If costs aren’t an issue, you may be able to ease your own workload and stress by hiring caterers.

Add some special touches

Consider adding additional touches to make the reception feel unique to your loved one. Serve a favorite food or drink; play their favorite music; create a wall of photos and memories; ask people to share their favorite jokes or stories about your loved one; theme the event around a passion or hobby of your loved one; hold the event in a space special to them; display some of their favorite items -- whatever feels meaningful to you.

Share the information with friends and family

You can choose to announce reception information at the funeral itself or share it in advance in the funeral announcement. For planning purposes and to make it easier to get help from others, we recommend sharing the information in advance. Memorial websites on Ever Loved are easy and quick to set up, allowing you to start collecting RSVPs and sharing crucial event information in little to no time. Keep your community updated with important event info, restrictions, information, and more by starting a memorial website.


For more help with the funeral planning process, try our free funeral planning guide.

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Last updated March 10, 2021
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