Funeral wake ideas for a special send-off


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A funeral wake is an opportunity for mourners to share memories and pay tribute to their loved one – here are 10 unique funeral wake ideas to make it a very special celebration of life.

What is a funeral wake?

The term funeral wake used to refer to the time when the family would sit with the person who had died, usually in the family home, before the funeral. Nowadays, a funeral wake generally refers to the reception after a funeral, where guests can talk to each other, share memories and eat and drink.

Traditionally, funeral receptions might be quite formal affairs. But as more people move towards having celebration of life ceremonies and personalised funerals, funeral wakes have become more relaxed and focused on remembering the good times.

If you’re arranging a funeral for someone, the type of funeral wake you have depends on what you feel is right and what your loved one would have preferred. You may want to have a celebration of life party, with music and dancing, or you may feel that a quiet, small gathering is more appropriate.

If you’re thinking about how you want to be remembered, you can record your personal requests when you buy an Avalon funeral plan. When the time comes, we’ll pass these details on to your nominated Funeral Director and your friends and family will know what kind of funeral and reception you wanted.

Here are 10 funeral wake ideas to personalise the reception:

1. Hold the wake at their favourite place

If the person who died had a favourite pub, club or restaurant, it could be the perfect place to raise a glass to them. It could even be a local sports ground or social club that they loved visiting. Many different venues can be hired out for funeral wakes, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

2. Play a video montage

Video projector at a funeral wake

If you’ve got lots of videos of your loved one, it could be a nice touch to compile these into a montage that could run on repeat on a screen at the funeral wake. If you don’t know how to use video editing software, there are lots of companies that can do this for you – your Funeral Director will be able to recommend some. You could even share the montage with guests on CD or by uploading it online.

3. Serve their favourite food and drink

Funeral wake food

Everyone’s got favourite dishes, snacks and drinks, and favourite family meals can bring back lots of good memories. You could include small note cards with a buffet of favourites to explain when your loved one discovered this dish and why they loved it so much.

4. Play music

Live music at a funeral wake

Traditionally, music didn’t really feature at funeral wakes, but now more people are choosing to have singers, live bands or DJs at the funeral reception. Why not create a playlist of your loved ones favourite party anthems, or ask guests to suggest songs that they liked?

5. Hand out small gifts or mementos

Wrapped gifts to give to people at a funeral

Giving out party favours is something you’ll probably associate more with birthdays or weddings. But now some people want to give guests a memento at a funeral. As well as being a small ‘thank you’ to all those who attended, it’s something that guest can keep to remember your loved one. Memorial candles, small framed pictures or seed packets are all popular choices.

Remember – if you’ve got ideas for your own final farewell, you can make a note of these in your personal requests document when you buy an Avalon funeral plan. When the time comes, we’ll pass the details on to your nominated Funeral Director, so your loved ones can honour your wishes.

6. Ask guests to share their memories

Funeral guestbook and flowers at a wake

It’s amazing what guests remember about your loved one – they might be stories you’ve never heard before. Ask them to share their precious memories in a guest book or by writing stories on cards, which can then be pinned to a display board.

7. Decorate the venue

Floral decorations at a funeral wake

If you’ve got time, you might think about decorating the venue. You could choose favourite colours or a theme that reflects their hobbies and interests. You could also display memorabilia such as trophies, medals or personal possessions.

8. Display photographs

Photos on display at a funeral wake

Photographs are great way to share memories and start discussions about the person who is being commemorated. Get creative with how you display them by pegging them to string to create a banner, or by pinning them to a board as a collage.

9. Create a kids’ area

Child drawing picture

Sometimes it can help children to attend a funeral, in order to understand what has happened and say goodbye. If you know there will be some children attending the wake too, having a special area for them to play in can be a welcome relief from the seriousness of the occasion. A colouring table is easy to set up and shouldn’t cause too much disruption – or you could ask parents to bring a few toys.

10. Host an open mic session

Open mic session at a wake

There isn’t time during a funeral service for everyone to have their say. Giving guests time to say a few words at the wake can be a touching tribute to someone special. Many venues can provide mics and sound systems if needed.

Discover more creative funeral ideas for a unique send-off, or find out more about how an Avalon funeral plan can let you have your say on how you’re remembered.


About the author

With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.