How To Organise A Funeral Wake

A wake is a celebration of the life of someone who has died, and usually takes place after a funeral. Wakes come in many different forms, and can be as formal or as informal as you like. It is a chance for those who knew and loved the deceased to come and remember them in the company of family members and other friends. At a wake there may be flowers, photographs, short speeches and food served all in remembrance of the loved one. It's likely you'll also need to sort out order of service templates prior to the funeral taking place.

There are so many things to consider when someone you love has died, and organising the whole funeral is a job in itself, however in this guide we’ll run down some top tips on organising a funeral wake.

Decide on a location

Depending on how many people will be in attendance will play a large factor in where to hold the wake. If you have under 20 guests then your own home or the family home is a good choice. Anywhere up to 40 guests then you can request to use the church or crematorium halls to set out a small event.

More than 40 guests in attendance will require a larger space, so be looking at local pubs, sports and social clubs, or if many people have travelled from far away to attend the relative’s funeral, a great option is to hire out a hotel event room.

Remember that if you are hiring somewhere to hold your event, you need to phone them or pay a visit to the location as soon as you possibly can to secure the premises on the day and time at which you require it.

Decide which friends and family members to invite

Unlike the funeral, a wake is a more personal affair and everyone who came to the funeral may not be appropriate to be invited to a wake. Consider who are the nearest and dearest people to the person who has passed when drawing up a list of wake attendees.

More often than not all family members are invited to a wake, in addition to close friends who knew the deceased well. Unlikely attendees to a wake are business colleagues who they only knew in passing, or neighbours with whom the deceased had little contact with.

There may be some people who can attend the wake, but not the funeral, and vice versa, so it’s good to keep your options open and allow those who wish to pay further respects in a warm and considerate environment to do so.

Order food and beverages

Depending on how many people are attending, you will most likely need to lay on a good spread, as people will be walking round talking with each other and eating at the same time. If you’re holding the event in your home then you can save lots of money by having the family members bring food to the event, or even preparing it yourself.

Sometimes when you book a venue, the cost of food is also included, but be sure that it’s exactly what you want. If the deceased had a favourite food or drink, then it can be a nice touch to make that food or beverage available at the wake in honour of your loved one.

Get the message out

People need to know when and where a wake will be held in advance of the funeral. This allows them to plan their day effectively, and as mentioned above, some people may attend one or the other. You can create small notes to send in the post, announce it at the funeral after the service is finished, or with the help of social media you can spread the word on Twitter or share a Facebook post with all the details.

Arrange flowers and entertainment

A day before the funeral or after it finishes it’s a good idea to nip over to your chosen wake location and ensure that the flowers you’ve ordered are all displayed properly where you want them to be. You should think about the music that will be played in the background, especially if they had a favourite artist or style of music, and also if you have time you can even arrange a slideshow of pictures with the deceased and their family and friends. 

Sometimes at a wake there is an opportunity for a group activity to all sing a song reminding them of the deceased person, or you can even create a memory jar for people to write small notes so that the loved ones left behind can read them. This can be replicated with a memory wall or book too that is available to guests. One increasingly popular option is to release paper boats on a lake, the same goes for balloons and lit lanterns