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A funeral wake is a chance to come together with friends and family after the funeral to share memories of the person who has died.

Wakes can be sad and serious or they can be more like uplifting celebrations of life. If you’re planning a funeral wake, it’s a good idea to think about how it will feel and what kinds of things it could include.

Here are some funeral wake ideas to get you started.

Ideas for funeral wake venues

Your choice of venue will have a big impact on the atmosphere of the wake. Take a look at these ideas and see if any feel right for your event.

A hotel or social club

These are the most popular types of venues for funeral wakes. They’re good options if you want the event to have a traditional feel.

They’re also convenient. It should be easy to find a venue like this close to where the funeral is taking place. And many can provide food and drinks for guests, so you won’t have to hire an outside caterer.

A meaningful place

Could you hold the wake in a venue that meant a lot to the person who has died? This could be a good way to honour their memory and celebrate their life.

Here are some suggestions:

  • A local park or nature reserve: did they love to spend time in nature? Perhaps they were happiest when they were out walking their dog? You could invite people to a memorial picnic at their favourite outdoor spot.
  • A pub or cafe: maybe they were a regular at the village pub or always stopped for a cup of tea in the local cafe. If so, why not organise a sit-down meal in memory of them?
  • A sports venue: what better way to say goodbye to a sports fan than by holding the wake at their team grounds?

These are just a few ideas for a wake venue. You can hold a wake in almost any location – as long as you get permission.

Don’t be afraid to choose somewhere unique. In a Co-op survey, 77% of funeral workers said they’d been asked to arrange a funeral or wake in a non-traditional venue. Among the most unusual requests were a zoo, a golf course and even a McDonald’s Drive Thru.

A family home

If you want the wake to feel informal and low-key, why not invite a few friends and relatives to your home? It can be a very cosy and comforting way to pay your respects.

You could share photos and memories of the person who has died and perhaps cook their favourite meal for everyone to enjoy. If the weather’s nice, you could even hold a ‘celebration of life’ barbecue or garden party.

Home wakes are very affordable too. Depending on what you have in mind, you might not have to spend anything at all.

Funeral wake decoration ideas

Decorating the wake venue can make the event feel extra special and remind people of the person who has died. Here are a few ideas for funeral wake decorations that might inspire you.

Sprinkle coloured confetti

Why not choose some confetti in the person’s favourite colour and sprinkle it on people’s tables? This is a simple and inexpensive idea that will add a meaningful touch to the wake.

Use their favourite flowers

Flowers aren’t just for the funeral service – they make for elegant funeral wake decorations too. You could ask a florist to create a memorable flower arrangement or keep things simple and place freshly cut flowers in vases around the room.

Honour their hobbies

Think about what the person loved to do. Could you use this as a theme for your wake decorations? It would be a great way to get people talking and sharing happy memories.

Were they a football fan? You could drape their club’s shirts over the backs of chairs or decorate tables in their team colours. Did they like to sew or knit? Bring some of their creations along and place one on every table.

These are just suggestions. Try to come up with some of your own based on your loved one’s hobbies or interests.

Get some photos printed

You probably have some favourite photographs of the person who has died. Why not print a few at home and leave them around the room before the wake starts? People will enjoy looking at them and remembering the person. They could even take a few home as keepsakes.

Funeral wake food ideas

You don’t have to provide food at the wake, but people often appreciate it. You could serve a sit-down meal, offer a buffet or even cook some food yourself. It all depends on your budget and how many people are going to the wake. These suggestions should help you decide what to dish up.

Their favourite meal

Was the person a well-known curry fan? Did they love nothing more than fish and chips on a Friday evening? Perhaps they were famous for their delicious homemade lasagne?

We often connect food with pleasant memories, so serving a person’s favourite meal can feel very poignant.

Afternoon tea

If you’ve ever had afternoon tea, you’ll know how special it feels. There’s just something charming about perfectly cut sandwiches, dainty cakes and soothing cups of freshly brewed tea.

Afternoon tea is practical too. You can serve it as a meal or leave it out on a buffet table and let people help themselves.

A one-pot homemade meal

If you’re holding the wake at home, you could save money by cooking a big one-pot meal for everyone. Think soups, curries, stews… that kind of thing. Not only is it affordable, but it will leave people feeling satisfied and well looked after.

Finger foods

Are you stuck for food ideas for a wake? You can’t go wrong with classic finger foods like sausage rolls, crisps and quiches. You could add a bit of variety with some party-style salads, such as potato or pasta salad.

We hope these funeral wake ideas have inspired you to come up with a memorable event. Do you need help organising a wake? Learn how to plan a wake with this step-by-step guide.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash.