How To Pre-Plan a Reception

After a funeral or memorial service it is customary to have a reception where people can gather, spend time together, and often eat and drink.

Reasons to have a reception or gathering after a funeral or memorial service

A reception is a good opportunity for people to spend time together, share memories, and support another at a difficult time. As many funerals and memorial services are somber and formal affairs, a post-service gathering provides as more casual atmosphere for your friends and family to connect with each other. By pre-planning your reception you can make sure that people celebrate your life in the way that you want.

Funerals and memorial services often bring people together who may not have seen each other in some time, and a reception provides an opportunity for people to reconnect. Also, you may know people from very different areas of your life, and having a reception where people can get to know each other encourages all the people you know and love to get to know each other.

Where to hold a post-funeral or post-memorial service reception

A reception can be held at a family member or friend’s home, at a restaurant, an event space, or a social hall in a religious place of worship. Some funeral homes will also have spaces at the funeral home where you may be able to hold a post-service reception.

When thinking about where to hold a post-service reception, consider places that are particularly meaningful to you and your family. This could be a favorite park, restaurant, or bar, or any location that you think would be a comfortable, meaningful place for people to spend time with each other.

Providing food and beverages

It is common for at-home receptions to be potluck-style, with friends and guests bringing prepared food and drinks. Alternatively, you have the event catered by a deli, supermarket, or restaurant, or a catering company can handle all the arrangements. In some communities, it is traditional for the community to provide the food and drinks for the reception.

Consider if you would like particular or special foods to be served at the reception. For example, you could serve your favorite type of sandwich or your favorite beer. If you have a preference for what should be served at the reception, let your family know so that they can make those arrangements when the time comes.

Religious considerations

If you will be following any religious or cultural traditions, be aware that some religions have special foods that are eaten or prohibited after a funeral. (For example, Mormons traditionally eat potato casserole, and Jews traditionally eat eggs and abstain from alcohol.) In addition, many religions have specific mourning periods that begin immediately after the funeral, which you may want your family to observe. For more information on your religion's funeral customs, speak with your local religious leader or see our article Religious Funeral Traditions.

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