What To Expect at a Post-Funeral Reception

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

Reasons to have a post-funeral reception

A reception or gathering after a funeral is a good opportunity for people to spend time together and remember the person who died. Funerals often bring people together who may not have seen each other in some time, and a reception also provides an opportunity for people to reconnect.

As many funerals are formal and somber events, a reception also offers a more casual, relaxed space for people to celebrate the life of the person who died.

Where to hold a post-funeral 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 also have spaces where a reception can be held.

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 can order deli platters from delis or supermarkets, a restaurant can deliver food, or a catering company can handle all the arrangements.

In some religious communities it is traditional for the social committee to provide the food and drinks for the reception.

If you'll be having the reception at the funeral home, they may have restaurants or catering companies that they prefer to work with, though you may be able to bring in whatever foods you like.

Religious considerations

If you will be following any religious 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. For more information on your religion's funeral customs, see our article Religious Funeral Traditions.

To learn about planning pre-service events, see our article Viewings, Wakes, and Visitations.

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