Post-Funeral Reception Etiquette

Post-funeral receptions offer guests and family members a chance to spend time together and remember the person who died in a more casual setting. For many people, post-funeral events are a more comfortable environment for remembering the person who died and spending time with friends.

What to expect at a post-funeral reception

Many post-funeral receptions are held at the family’s home, though they may be held at social halls of religious places of worship, restaurants, or other venues. Food and drink are usually served, often as a buffet. In many cases the family will provide food and beverages, though in some cases food and drinks will be supplied by the community or the social committee of the church or synagogue.

If you will be coordinating food and beverages for a post-funeral reception, use our resource Guide: Meal Registries.

Though a post-funeral reception is more casual and social than a funeral, it is still a somber event. While sharing memories of the person who died you may be inclined to laugh, and you should. But it’s important to remain respectful and not go wild. If alcohol will be served at the reception you should feel free to drink, if you choose, though a degree of moderation should be maintained. Children are usually welcome at post-funeral events, but, as at a funeral, should be on good behavior.

If you're considering bringing children to a funeral, read our article Bringing Children to a Funeral.

What to bring to a post-funeral gathering

In some communities, the family of the person who died will host the reception and provide food and drinks, while in some communities the food and beverages are potluck. If you would like to contribute something to the reception, check with the person coordinating the reception to ask what you can bring. If you are considering bringing alcoholic beverages, make sure that alcohol would be welcome. Many cultures and religions prohibit alcohol in general or at funerals specifically, such as in Judaism, Islam, and the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

How long to stay at a post-funeral reception

While some post-funeral gatherings may have an end time, many receptions may not. As with any type of party, it is up to you to determine how long you want to stay at the event. If you stay until the end, when most of the other guests have left, you might consider helping clean up.

For advice on how to help at a post-funeral reception or gathering, see our article How You Can Help at a Post-Service Reception.

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