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.

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.

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 Wonderful Life, we see many families host funeral receptions at restaurants, bars, outdoor spaces, social clubs, and other favorite locations of the deceased.

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. 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; 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.


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

February 2018