Need to plan a wake and not sure where to start? If you’re arranging a funeral you may not have thought about a wake in much detail yet. Don’t worry. We’ve provided info below on what a wake is, what it can include and how to plan one that’s a fitting way to remember the person who’s passed away.
How to plan a wake step by step
Having a wake to remember someone who’s passed away can be a comforting experience. But planning one alongside the funeral is a lot to take on. So we’ve put together some guidance below to help you with your plans. But remember wakes can be flexible. They can be as simple or as big as you’d like. Try to keep that in mind when you’re planning a wake.
1. Book a venue
How many people are you inviting? Is it going to be a small private gathering? Or are you inviting all friends and family to come to the wake after the funeral?
The number of guests will help you decide on a venue. If you’re expecting a lot of people to attend you may want to hire a venue. But if a small gathering is more appropriate perhaps you could host it at your home. There are many options when it comes to funeral wake venues.
Here’s a list of possible venues to help you narrow down your options:
- Village hall
- Community centre
- Place of worship
- At home/in your garden
- A favourite place of the person who passed away
2. Invite guests
Think about who you’d like to attend the wake. Some people will invite all guests who attend the funeral service to come to the wake afterwards. But you don’t have to. You could make the wake more private or for family only if that’s what you’d like.
To make things as clear as possible for all guests make sure you tell them beforehand with an invite, a quick phone call, or email. Writing all the details down in an email or on an invite will help guests know what to expect. It’ll also make things a bit more manageable for you.
Consider what you’ll need to add to invites to make things as clear as possible. This could include:
- Date and time: include details of when guests should arrive and when things will wind down. If the venue you’re using needs you to leave at a certain time say this on the invite.
- Venue: include directions if necessary.
- Dress code: all black? Casual or formal? Did the person who passed away have any thoughts on this?
- Whether food and drink will be offered: whether it’s a small homemade buffet or professional catering, try to give a quick description of what people can expect.
- Whether guests should bring/send cards or flowers: if the person who passed away wanted donations to be made to a charity instead give details of this on the invite. If possible add a link to the charity’s website or where people can donate online.
Keep in mind that if you’d like the wake to be a smaller gathering or you’d like more people to attend the wake after the funeral service you’ll need to outline this on the invites. Or you could prepare separate invites for the service and the wake to avoid any confusion.
3. Organise food and drink
Not sure what to serve at a funeral wake? To make things easier you could hire a professional caterer or you could keep things simple with homemade sandwiches. You could ask family and friends to bring a dish with them to keep costs down. Or just offer tea and coffee.
Remember you don’t have to serve food and drink to guests if it’s too much to manage or it doesn’t fit your budget.
4. Think about funeral wake ideas
When you’re planning a wake you may want to organise something to help guests remember the person who passed away in a certain way.
Here are a few funeral wake ideas that you could put together so you can celebrate the life of your loved one:
- Display photos of the person with their family and friends
- Plant a tree in their memory
- Ask guests to write down their favourite memory of the person in an empty notebook
- Make a photo montage that can be played at the venue
- Play the person’s favourite music in the background
- Or simply sit down and have a chat about them
Planning a wake is a very personal thing. So it’s up to you whether you add any of these funeral wake ideas to your plans. If you’d like to do something but you’re not sure where to start ask other family members for ideas too. They may be able to help you come up with something that’s suitable and helps you celebrate your loved one’s life.