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Thank you, SW Barratt

Champagne being poured into glasses

Discover Economical Funeral Wake Ideas

Published: March 22, 2024

Organising and thinking of suitable funeral wake ideas can be a challenging task, especially for a family member or close colleague. This in-depth article aims to give ideas for a good but cheaper funeral wake.

Funeral wake definition

Previously, a funeral wake referred to a gathering of closely related individuals to the deceased (used to happen before the funeral day in the family property). Nowadays, a wake means a meetup after the deceased’s funeral, where family members, friends & colleagues interact, remember the deceased, eat and have drinks.

Traditionally, a wake may be a pretty formal affair. But as more individuals celebrate life ceremonies and personalise funerals, wakes are becoming more breezy, focusing mainly on the praiseworthy times.

When preparing a reception for loved ones what you organise will depend on what the deceased preferred, or what you think is correct. You may wish to hold a life party celebration with dancing & music or consider a quiet & small meet up.

If you’d like to know how your loved ones will remember you, you may consider recording your wishes as early as possible. This way when your funeral and reception come, your loved ones will know the kind of service you deserve.

Additional funeral wake ideas

Conduct the wake at the most desired place

If the individual who has passed away had the best-loved pub, nightclub or eating house, it could well be the ideal place to celebrate their life. It might even be a nearby sports pitch or a social club centre they used to visit. Many venues can be rented out for a cheap wake, so don’t fear figuring out more desired options.

Playing video montage

If you’ve got several videos of the deceased, it could be an excellent idea to compile them into the montage that plays on a screen at the wake. Moreover, you can share it on various online channels or put it on a CD for guests to enjoy.

Serve their most preferred drinks & meals

Four glasses of fruit juice

Everyone has their own favourite meals, refreshments and beverages, and most preferred family dishes, which can revive many joyful memories. You can add small notes or posters with favourite meals to highlight when the deceased discovered these foods and why they were special to them.

Consider playing music

DJ turntable

Traditionally, songs were not really featured at wakes. However, now more individuals choose to have artists, live musicians, or DJs. Why not devise a list of the deceased’s favourite songs or ask visitors to propose melodies they enjoyed? If conducting the wake at home then you could simply use your own music system.

Give small memorial gifts

Party favours are usually linked with weddings/birthdays, but they can be used for any occasion. For example, some individuals give a memento to visitors attending the wake. It’s a small token of appreciation for everyone who attended, allowing them to remember the deceased.  A variety of memorial candles, or small-sized framed images are all highly-used choices to consider.

Small red candle

Note that if you’ve got any ideas regarding your individual final reception, you can add them to your individual requests file when buying a funeral plan. The information will be passed on to your funeral director when the final farewell moment comes so your beloved family members can fulfill these wishes.

Let guests highlight their memories

It’s remarkable what visitors remember about someone who has passed away – they may be tales you’d never picked up before. Ask the guests to write down their cherished remembrances in a unique visitors’ booklet or by noting down tales on postcards, which you can then post to exhibit boards.

Embellish the venue

You could consider embellishing the venue if you have time. You could pick out colours or themes that match the deceased’s personal preferences. You can also show the deceased’s awards, honours/rewards, or personal belongings.

Show off photographs

Girl and woman laughing

Photographs are great ways to share remembrances and start conversations about the deceased. Display them creatively by hanging them from strings or pins on a wall or creating a collage.

Have a children’s section

Child hand with crayons

It can be helpful for children to turn up at funerals to know what has occurred and bid farewell. If there might be children at the reception, too, consider setting up a space for them to play as a welcoming relief from the occasion’s seriousness.  You don’t need to spend a lot of time setting up a colouring table. It doesn’t require much effort; you could also ask the children’s parents to bring some toys.

Have an open microphone occasion

Microphone on stand

There often isn’t enough time for everyone to have their chance to speak during funeral services. Saying some words at funerals can be a moving accolade for someone special who has passed away. Many venues usually have microphones and/or sound equipment available for this purpose.

Locating funeral wake venues

There aren’t any exact regulations governing funeral wakes, however there several things to think about beforehand:

  • Ensure the venue offers sufficient parking close by
  • Provide food and drinks that suit the needs of visitors
  • Arrangements should be made to provide extra toilets should the number of attendees exceed the venue’s capacity.
  • Make sure you understand the venue’s rules and ensure your chosen vendors know how to operate the equipment.
  • Have fire extinguishers and first aid kits available
  • Consider hiring security personnel, especially when large crowds are expected.
  • Think about whether you’d like to invite media members and make sure you have adequate space.
  • Plan an exit route if needed

Venue possibilities

Church hall: A church hall is a good option, they can sometimes offer catering services for events such as wake parties. However, you’ll still need to check that the facilities meet all requirements (such as emergency exits).

Public house (Pub): Often overlooked but a pub can be a bright venue for a reception, especially if the deceased visited the pub. Most pubs allocate an area for the mourners where the food is available. It is normally a good idea for the guests to buy their own drinks, to avoid a costly drink bill to the family of the deceased. 

Gym/community centre: These sites are convenient and offer plenty of space suitable for entertaining guests. Some community centres have indoor gyms to set up a games area. 

Hotel ballroom: If you’ve booked one of these hotels during your visit, you could use them as venues for a wake. They may also have catering services on site.

Home: As mentioned above, it’s challenging to find venues where the owners allow parties without being paid. However, if you live in a large enough house, this could work well.

Museum: Many museums have unique rooms that can work well for hosting funeral wakes. Although the rooms usually only seat a few dozen people, they can be ideal for a small gathering with friends and family.

Inviting guests to a funeral wake

Inviting guests to a funeral wake might seem obvious, sometimes an invitation is included with the funeral service invitation. There are a couple of reasons why it is important to send invitations.

Firstly, it makes it easier for family and friends to plan their travel arrangements. Secondly, it gives an advance warning about what time the wake starts so guests can get there early. This is especially helpful when the venue can fill up quickly. When preparing the invitations, include information on the location, details on transport options and any activities planned.

Include a telephone number on the invitation so potential visitors know how to reach you. Make sure that you leave plenty of time for replies, as it can take quite a while for someone to arrange transport.

How to organise a low-cost funeral wake

Low-cost funeral wakes can be easily be organised by the family of the deceased, or can be organised through the undertaker. It will obviously save money if the family organise the wake. But why do people decide to have a funeral wake?

People decide to organise funeral wakes for lots of different reasons. Some want an opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one in a way they feel reflects their personality. Others like the chance to raise funds for charity and make memories that last beyond the funeral itself.

Woman with thumb up

While many celebrate the deceased’s life. Whatever your reason, it’s important to remember to keep things light-hearted.

Now, let’s see how you can organise a cheap funeral reception:

1. Choose an affordable location and create your own atmosphere

Before making your decision, ask yourself what kind of atmosphere you want. Do you prefer something quiet, relaxed and intimate? Or boisterous and loud? Will you be holding the event at home? At a restaurant? In a hotel? A public house (pub). 

2. Select an affordable local business to help with food and drink

If you do not want to prepare the food and drink  then you will need to pick an affordable but good caterer to provide for all of your guests. Think carefully about where you’re going to hold your wake and if it’s open to the public, for example a public house (pub). If, for example, your venue isn’t available during the day, then a morning catering company will not suit. Look into hall hire services (check with local councils).

3. Prepare a cheap menu of tasty & healthy options

Various snack food on plates

This is very much down to personal preference, but you’re probably best off sticking with dishes that will appeal to everyone rather than trying to cater for specific diets. It also helps if you’ve got a wide selection and range of food items to offer, such as vegan and vegetarian. Decaffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea are also popular drinks.

4. Suggest cheaper guest transportation

It pays to consider suggesting the guests share using taxis rather than driving themselves. This will save money on petrol, reduce traffic congestion and allow most guests extra time to get ready.

5. Decide on inviting the right guests

If you’re planning on hosting a large number of guests, try to avoid inviting guests who you may think get loud after drinking. Instead, invite select individuals who you know can socialise. This will also ensure that everyone gets along and makes the perfect mix of familiar faces and new acquaintances.

6. Ask around for advice

Local catering businesses are often happy to advise on different funeral wake ideas. Try asking family members, friends or colleagues for suggestions. The internet is another excellent resource. It can produce many valuable results which people tend to post online. Read reviews, comments and look through photographs.

Funeral wake expenses

Wakes can be expensive. The price tag can eat into savings and leave little left over to spend on extras such as a memorial. Organising a cheaper alternative will help you save for funeral costs.


​A wake doesn’t necessarily mean you have to host a vast soiree. As explained above, there are plenty of ways to organise and save money without spending a fortune.

If you would like to learn more about locating low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

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