How to organise a wake

Following a funeral service, family members often hold a less formal reception, known as a wake.  It’s an opportunity for the deceased friends and family to remember the life and share memories together.

There are no rules about refreshments after a funeral service and who should be invited to the wake is totally up to you.  A wake is a nice opportunity for people to show their respects if they were unable to attend the funeral.  Likewise, others might only attend the funeral and not the wake.  A wake may or may not be also a chance for children to attend.  Adding a line in the order of service is advised so funeral attendees will know the details and arrangements following the service.  It can also be added to the end of the obituary or you can ask the person leading the service to make an announcement. Some wakes can be completely private, but it might be worth sending out invitations to those you wish to attend.

The wake can take place wherever you would like it to and we can advise on suitable venues. Maybe there was somewhere the deceased spent a lot of time or liked to visit or perhaps you would like it to be held at your home.  Remember to take into consideration the amount of people that might attend and make sure all your guests know the location and the time it begins.  This is especially important if there is a private family burial following the service.  Allowing a few hours between the service and the wake is acceptable too, particularly if the crematorium is not close by.

Depending on the venue you choose, they may be able to provide catering on-site and have specific menus that would be appropriate.  If not, we can advise on outside caterers and menus and if necessary, the hiring of crockery and glasses.  You may want to make the food yourself, maybe your loved one was an avid baker so afternoon tea would be perfect. However, it is important that you do not put yourself under too much pressure and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to contribute if they can.

Traditionally entertainment was not provided at a wake but this becoming increasing popular in the form of music or picture slideshows.  If you think your loved one would have liked this, then you may wish to collate something they would have appreciated, but again, don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Enlist the help of others who will be glad of a practical task that they can do to feel useful.

If you would like to know more about organising wakes, Rosedale can provide the information you need.