How to Organise a Wake

What is a funeral wake?

When arranging a funeral, you may want to consider having a reception afterwards, where friends and family can gather to remember the life of your loved one. This is commonly known as a wake.

Funeral wakes are usually less formal than the ceremony, offering a place for the bereaved to gather, share stories of your loved one, and celebrate their life. If you are organising a wake, you may want to consider the venue, catering, and whether or not there will be entertainment. Listed below are the key elements of how to organise a wake.


People may choose to attend the wake if they cannot attend the funeral; likewise, some guests who were at the funeral will decide not to attend the wake. It is also a chance for children to attend, especially if the funeral itself may be too distressing for them.

You may decide to place a funeral and wake announcement in a local newspaper and you may choose for the wake to be announced at the end of the funeral service. We will often print the refreshment details on the back of the funeral order of service.


It can take place anywhere you want, as long as the number of people you are expecting can fit in comfortably.

The most common funeral wake venues are:

Remember to book the venue in advance and to make sure guests know how to get there.


Some venues will provide catering for wakes. If in doubt, ask DJ Bewley Funeral Directors, we can recommend a good caterer who does food for wakes. If you wish to serve your loved one’s favourite food or drink, many venues and caterers will be flexible with these kinds of requests.

If you are looking to keep cost at a minimum, one alternative is to provide your own food. Ask friends and relatives to make up sandwich platters and other buffet food items. Be sure to check with the venue first, as some may not allow you to serve your own food.


Wakes are traditionally seen as very solemn affairs. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to celebrate your loved one’s life with various forms of entertainment, including music and picture slideshows. If you are organising a wake, you may or may not decide to put on entertainment, depending what you think your loved one would want. Many funeral wake ideas centre around reflecting the loved one’s personality, and so entertainment may be appropriate. Examples include picture slideshows and their favourite songs. Many venues will have the facilities to accommodate picture slideshows.


The cost of a wake can vary greatly, and you may have to adopt a cost-conscious approach to planning your loved one’s wake.

There are many ways to keep costs low. Here are just a few tips for how to plan a wake on a budget:

Families we have dealt with in the past have attended the following venues for Funeral Wakes