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A fitting reception

The reception is when family and friends share their memories of their loved one in a more relaxed way than at the funeral ceremony.

The reception normally follows the funeral. It is often known as the gathering or the wake.

It is when those who attended the funeral and other less close relatives, friends, neighbours, former colleagues and other appropriate guests to share fond memories of the deceased and thus reduce the painful grieving.

The reception is the most popular way of bringing friends and family together to remember and reminisce, although memorial or celebratory parties can be held several weeks after the funeral, or on the anniversary of the birthday or death.

Venue for the reception

This is governed by the number of people who will be attending and the type of reception you choose.

Most funeral directors will offer a choice of suitable local venues and catering companies, but this is something you might want to organise and choose yourself.

Think about:

  • A ‘fitting’ location: if you are a sports fan, a sports club would be suitable venue. If you (or the loved one) had a favourite pub, club, restaurant, or local beauty spot, these might be appropriate;
  • At home: this is traditional venue for a reception but does limit the numbers who can attend. It can also add to the stress of the day. However, it is a good option for small receptions where family members will contribute to the catering and hosting of the reception; where those attending are away from the gaze of outsiders; and without the costs of an external venue. However, funerals can often cause family disputes or reveal family antagonisms that can boil over during the reception. And at home, there could be ‘no holds barred’;
  • Local hotel/pub: select a hotel or pub that is close to the funeral service/ceremony; and able to deliver the event you want - good quality food; private room(s); sympathetic staff; good parking; reliable booking system and sound management.

Catering for the reception

You have the following choices:

  • External caterers. This can be part of the service organised by the venue. You may, however, consider using a specialist catering company;
  • Self-catering. You could prepare the food with family and friends as part of the special ‘bonding’ that funerals can often encourage. Or you can order platters of sandwiches from supermarkets and other food shops that you pick up or get delivered in good time to personalise the reception;
  • A more formal meal.

Save your instructions

If you want the reception following your funeral to be a successful event, you should plan it carefully. Discuss with an appropriate family member or members, or your executor, as they will be responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out.

When agreed, write down your wishes for the reception to include:

  • Venue;
  • Guest list;
  • Catering;
  • Music;
  • Short speech from you to your loved ones and dear friends;
  • Fund raising - make it an event to raise money for your favourite good cause;
  • The reading of tributes and messages from those unable to attend;
  • Video clips, such as a short ‘This is your life story’; or a favourite comedy sketch; and
  • Possible gifts for those attending.

Save these instructions to your Lifebox, instructions to be acted on by your executor or next of kin immediately they open your Lifebox and read your final wishes.

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