Things to consider when planning a gathering after the funeral

 

A gathering after a funeral or memorial service is an opportunity for friends and family to spend time together and to remember and celebrate the life of the person who has died. Sharing stories and memories, laughing and crying, can provide much needed release and support.

There are no rules, the occasion can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. The main thing is to organise something that you are comfortable with and that you feel the person whose life you are celebrating would have wanted. 

The main purpose of a gathering after a funeral is to provide mourners with an opportunity to spend time together, share memories and support each other. Things to consider are the number of people that you are expecting, convenience of the location, together with your budget. You may wish to host it at home, or there may be a special or meaningful place such as a favourite local pub or hotel.

POSSIBLE LOCATIONS FOR A POST-FUNERAL GATHERING

    • at home or at the home of a close family or friend (with a marquee if necessary)
    • in a local pub or hotel
    • in a village hall or community centre
    • at a private club or local sports centre
    • in a special place, such as a glade, a meadow or a field overlooking the sea

For ideas or further information, please visit Funeral Reception & Wake Venues in our Inspiration and Providers sections, or search for a local venue near you using the search facility above.

 

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family and friends are often only too pleased to help with the catering. This can take the pressure off you and also help to keep costs down. The extent and type of food and beverage is a matter of personal choice and can vary from simple sandwiches and cakes to more elaborate buffets.

APPOINTING A CATERER

It may be that planning and making food on top of everything else is too much to cope with, particularly if you are expecting a large number of mourners. Choosing a venue that can provide food is an option, or you could appoint a caterer or an event planner to assist you. Please visit Catering Ideas and Caterers & Planners in the Inspiration and Providers sections of whiteballoon.

NUMBERS ATTENDING

To help you to get some idea of numbers for catering and planning purposes, you may like to use our free Notification Cards. These can be sent to family and friends and the replies, together with details of any special requirements, can be recorded on your personal Attendees form.

 

FLOWERS

Flowers lift people's spirits and provide softness and colour in a room. They can be anything from simple, hand-picked flowers in jam jars, possibly from a family member or friend, to a more elaborate display supplied by a local florist.

Many people bring the casket flowers from the funeral to provide a beautiful focal point.

Depending on where the post-funeral gathering is taking place, the venue may be able to organise them for you.

If you would like inspiration for different types and styles of flowers or to find a local florist, please visit the Flowers & Plants sections in Inspiration and Providers, or use the search facility above.

PERSONAL TOUCHES

The main purpose of a gathering after a funeral is to provide mourners with an opportunity to spend time together, share memories and support each other. Just providing a space to meet, perhaps with refreshments, is enough. However, sometimes adding a few personal touches can spark memories and conversations or lighten the mood.

Displays of photographs of the deceased, their life, family and friends, or movie clips to a favourite song can help mourners connect to, and remember, the person they are saying goodbye to.

Consider ways to invite participation from the guests - writing a memory in a book of condolence or posting it in a memory jar can be cathartic and will create lasting memories for the family.

Think about reflecting the life and personality of the person you are mourning - for a gardener or nature lover, packs of flower seeds for loved ones to take away and plant as a living reminder of the person who has died; releasing balloons or doves to represent a free spirit; fireworks, for someone who loved drama and spectacle. 

There are some beautiful ideas for Personal Touches in our Inspiration pages. If you would like to link directly to local or national suppliers, please visit the Providers section of whiteballoon or use the search facility above.

 

Depending on the number of people attending the funeral and post-funeral gathering, where they are being held and what food and drinks you are serving, you may need to borrow or hire tables and chairs, tablecloths, glasses, cups and saucers, plates and cutlery. Some venues will be able to provide these for you.

If you need to hire items please look for local providers using our search facility or visit Caterers & Planners in the Providers section of whiteballoon. 

 

The sound of singing and music at a funeral or post-funeral gathering can be healing and uplifting and having a live performance of a meaningful song can be a beautiful tribute to a loved one. There are many possibilities from soloists and choirs, to guitarists and pianists. A family member or a friend may be happy, and honoured, to perform.

If you would like some ideas and the contact details of local singers and musicians, please use the search facility above or view the Singers & Musicians listed in Providers and Inspiration.

COVID 19: To find out more about the current rules and regulations, please see the latest Government information.

HELPING THINGS RUN SMOOTHLY ON THE DAY

It's a small thing and easy to forget, but signage may be needed to indicate where to park, direct to an entrance, or to the loos. Ask family and friends to help to make signage boards or direct people on the day, they are often only too pleased to provide support.

Remember to take account of the weather. If parking is in a field or on soft ground and it is very wet, mats may be needed or alternative parking found.