How to Plan a Funeral Reception


It is said that the most important part of any funeral is the reception. The reception is the first social event following a funeral where the deceased is not present and represents a new, often difficult reality. It is customary (but not required) to hold a reception following a funeral or memorial service. This gathering offers friends and family the opportunity to meet in an informal environment. The after-funeral reception gives mourners the chance to support each other, share stories and memories and continue to celebrate the life of someone they cared about.

Often people have traveled from out of town or family and friends have gathered after years of separation. This gathering allows for an opportunity to visit while enjoying something to eat. While many churches might have reception facilities and groups to take care of this important part of the service, not everyone has this good fortune. In that case, you can rely on our funeral services team to help you plan a funeral reception that fits your preferences, budget and allows space for your family and friends to come together after the funeral.

When planning a funeral reception, there are a few key decisions to keep in mind, whether you are planning yourself or sharing your needs with a funeral planner who can put them into action for you.

  1. Choose a location – The appropriate location for a funeral reception is anywhere that works best for you and your guests. Locations are often chosen because they are a place that was special to the deceased and can be traditional, such as a church or funeral home reception hall, or non-traditional, such as a favourite restaurant or outdoor location.
  2. Set a tone – Some funeral receptions are celebratory and full of humour and stories to remember the person who has passed, others are more somber and reflective. Consider the person you are there to honour, their wishes, how you feel comfortable and the overall attitude of the majority of your attendees to determine the tone or type of funeral reception you are planning.
  3. Personalize the event – A funeral reception is meant to be an opportunity to bring the mourners together and honour the person who has passed. Personalizing the reception to include religious and cultural observances, personal anecdotes, hobbies and unique details from the life of the deceased and those there to remember them helps to bring life to the occasion and creates a more personal connection for those attending.
  4. Choose food & drink – The reception after a funeral doesn’t have to include alcohol or consist of a full meal. The type of food and drink you serve will depend on financial considerations, the amount of time you have to prepare, religious requirements and cultural factors. Work with your funeral director or the team at the venue you have chosen to determine the appropriate food and drink for your funeral reception.
  5. Consider other details – As a part of personalizing the reception, consider adding special touches such as music, videos, slideshows, flowers, unique commemorative adornments and anything else that suits the occasion.

The most important things to remember when planning a funeral reception are to keep it simple, make choices on your own terms and don’t forget that the size and scope of the reception is up to you. Also, don’t forget that you are likely to be grieving. Planning an event can be overwhelming under the best of circumstances, but when you add the fact that you are mourning it can become unmanageable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, community members and of course, the team at the funeral home you are working with who is well trained and experienced in putting together a personalized funeral reception that suits your requests, budget and needs, all in a short period of time.

If you feel up to the task of planning the reception then go for it! Depending on your situation you may find it a welcome distraction. If it starts to become too much, slow down and look for ways to lean on others to help you.

When planning a funeral reception, there can be a lot of details to attend to. Contact our team today if we can provide any assistance in planning a funeral reception for your loved one.

Are you pre-planning your own funeral reception? Check out our Planning Ahead information here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 5 MB. You can upload: image. Drop file here