The Reception after the Funeral: Five Helpful Tips for a Memorable Event

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

If you are hosting a reception after the funeral of a loved one, consider ways to make it extraordinary and deeply personal.

Families often host a reception or repast after the final farewell for departed loved ones. This gathering gives mourners the chance to support each other, share fond memories, and celebrate the life of the one who passed on. The repast can range from a lavish banquet at an upscale restaurant to simple punch and cookies in the church hall. There are no hard and fast rules so it’s up to you to decide what your budget can accommodate and what your loved one would have wanted.

Here are five pointers to help you organize a repast that’s memorable, beautiful, and meaningful. 

1. Select the location first. 

When choosing a venue for the post-funeral reception, it’s important to think about how many people might attend. Common locations include the home of a relative or close friend, a church or banquet hall, or a designated reception room at the funeral home. Local restaurants are another popular choice because they reduce the amount of meal preparation required and they offer a wide range of prices and menu options. If the weather permits, parks or other outdoor locations can offer a scenic natural backdrop for your event.

2. Decide on the menu.

When you think of food and drinks for the repast, your culture, location, and family traditions can all come into play. Maryland is famous for blue crabs, so you probably can’t go wrong by serving up some tasty crab cakes. They can get pricey, though, so you might opt for small appetizer-sized portions along with some hearty casseroles or deli trays and potato salad. Did your loved one have a favorite food or beverage? Offering their preferred fare is a clever way to personalize the event. It’s also not uncommon to ask close friends and family to provide a dish for the repast meal. Regardless of what you choose for the menu, it should be comforting, easy to prepare and eat, and affordable.

3. Should you decorate the venue?

Whether or not you decorate the venue will depend on where the reception is held, the amount of time you have, and your access to resources. Many people find that flowers can brighten up even the darkest room. You can also utilize decorative elements to add a personal touch. For example, if your loved one enjoyed nature, bouquets of wildflowers might be fitting. Placing photos and candles on the tables can add warmth to a bland space.

4. Personalize the event.

You can encourage interaction and make the reception more meaningful by including special touches that bring to mind your loved one. There are many ways to do this, such as:

  • If the departed had a favorite hobby, display some representative items of trinkets from their personal collection on a memory table
  • Arrange a group activity, such as a candle lighting or playing their favorite game
  • Offer an open microphone so that guests can share favorite stories and fond memories
  • Create a tribute video to run during the meal

5. Decide if you want to offer funeral favors.

Giving memorial keepsakes to those who attend the service is a lovely gesture of appreciation. There’s an endless variety of these trinkets to choose from, and the price points vary widely, too. From fortune cookies with custom messages, to engraved memorial stones, to custom bookmarks and beyond, there’s a funeral favor that suits your loved one’s memory and your budget.

It can be tempting to go all-out on a lavish reception after the funeral but you should avoid over-extending yourself. If you would like more information about planning a memorable repast or if you need to make arrangements for a loved one, please reach out to our caring, supportive team.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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