In this article:

What is a funeral tea?

'Funeral tea' has several meanings in the UK. Let's look at two of the most common ones.

The social occasion after a funeral

Some people, especially in Scotland, use 'funeral tea' to mean the social gathering after a funeral, where tea is often served. This is sometimes called a 'wake' or 'funeral reception' instead.

Traditionally, funeral receptions are less formal than funeral services. They're an opportunity to get together and remember the person who has died. They’re also often happier celebrations of life, compared to the sombre goodbye of the funeral service.

The funeral reception is usually held in a different venue to the service. This might be a hotel, restaurant, pub or family home.

You can learn more about planning a funeral reception in our article: what is a funeral wake?

The refreshments served at funeral receptions

Sometimes, 'funeral tea' is used to mean the refreshments served at funeral receptions. Funeral teas usually feature a selection of sandwiches and small cakes, as well as hot drinks like tea.

It can be a bit like afternoon tea. Unlike afternoon teas, though, funeral teas are rarely served as sit-down meals. Instead, a funeral tea is usually laid out like a buffet, so guests can help themselves to food whenever they like.

How to plan a funeral tea

If you’re planning to have a funeral tea, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Venue: do you want to hold the funeral tea in your home or do you want to hire a venue such as a pub, community centre or hotel? Having the tea in your home will save you the cost of hiring a venue, but you’ll also need to organise everything yourself.
  • Help with catering: if you’re hiring a venue, usually they’ll be able to take care of food and drinks for you. If you’re holding the funeral tea in your home, you’ll either need to hire a caterer or organise the food yourself. You could ask friends and family to help you out by making sandwiches or bringing cakes.
  • Who to invite: do you want to invite everyone who comes to the funeral service? Or do you want the funeral tea to be a smaller get-together? This could also affect your choice of venue. Make it clear on the invites whether people are invited to the funeral service only or to the funeral tea as well.

We hope we answered your questions about funeral teas. For more guides and tips on arranging a funeral, visit our advice centre.