Advice Funeral Planning What Is a Funeral Wake?

What Is a Funeral Wake?

It might feel overwhelming to plan a funeral wake as often you will need a venue and possibly food and drinks. Here your funeral director or friends and family can really help out, so do not hesitate to ask them. Below we will go over how to organise a wake and take you through all the options that you may want to consider.

How To Organise A Wake

If you aren’t quite sure where to start, organising a wake can be an emotionally difficult experience. However, holding a wake can be an incredibly comforting experience and allow people to celebrate a life well-lived. 

If you are planning a wake you should consider:

Finding a funeral wake venue

A wake can be held anywhere. It might be nice to pick a location that meant something to the person who has died. Some possibilities could be:

  • Restaurant or pub
  • Church hall
  • Sports clubhouses
  • Hotels
  • At a home
  • Outdoors

Be sure to get a quote so that there are no unexpected costs associated with getting a venue. Here you could also think about whether a venue can offer catering as part of their fee, as this could work out cheaper than arranging both separately. When you organise a wake through a funeral director wake-associated fees may be considered third-party costs, so be sure to check what the fee is too.

Inviting guests

Consider whether you want the wake to be a private gathering for close family or open to the wider community. Once you know the details of the wake be sure to let guests know in good time. Here you can call or email friends and family or (as many do these days) use social media to spread the word. This can also be done through a Octopus Legacy Support Hub.

Once you have invited friends and family it is likely that they will ask if there is anything that they can do to help. It could be a good idea to include them in providing food, decorating and the set-up/clean-up. A nice idea is to ask people to bring copies of photos they had of the person who has died to add to a memory book.

Funeral wake ideas: what do you do at a wake?

Here are some ideas for sharing memories of the person who has died:

  • Memory jars: Set some small jars out on a table with a stack of note cards and invite people to write a memory of the person who has died on the cards to place into the empty jar. You can take these home at the end of the day or hand them out to guests.
  • A memory tree, book or wall: Similarly, you could ask guests to write a memory on a tag or label and attach it to a tree, book or a board. This is a good way to create something that you can keep to remind you of your loved one.
  • Music: Create a playlist of your loved one’s favourite songs. You can even ask the guests for suggestions of tracks that remind them of time spent with the person who has died.
  • Photo boards: You could arrange boards of photos of your loved that shows them from different times in your life. This can be a great way of getting people to share memories or see parts of a life they didn’t get to experience firsthand. 

How to be a good funeral wake guest

Although wakes are usually more informal than the funeral service you should still make an effort. It is key to show up if you can and make sure to send your regrets and condolences if you cannot. In terms of dress, it is a good idea to stick to smart and respectful clothes. Make sure to greet the family and show your appreciation for being included in such an intimate event.

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