Tips for Holding a Wake

When making funeral arrangements, you may also want to have a reception afterwards, called a wake, where friends and family can gather to socialise and remember the life of your loved one. Wakes are generally less formal than the ceremony, creating a space for people to gather, share stories of your loved ones together and celebrate their life.

If you are organising a wake, there are a few key considerations such as the venue, catering and entertainment. Planning a wake can feel stressful on top of organising the funeral, but your funeral directors can often provide helpful advice and even plan on your behalf.

Where and When to Hold a Wake

Traditionally, guests attend the wake following the funeral ceremony. However, when and where you have the wake is up to you. Make sure that everyone who wishes to attend knows the time and location and that the venue can accommodate everyone.

Common venues include:

  • Social clubs
  • Church halls
  • Sports clubs
  • Bars or hotels
  • Parks or other outdoor settings
  • Someone’s home

If family and close friends are going to a crematorium or a burial site after the funeral, the wake may be held several hours after the funeral. Other times, the rest of the guests can attend the wake directly afterwards while family and friends at the burial or cremation arrive afterwards.


Some people who were at the funeral ceremony may not attend the wake. Other times, people who could not attend the funeral may choose to attend the wake. It’s also common for children to attend the wake but not the funeral due to concerns it may be too distressing or solemn.

Uncertainty around numbers can make organising catering and an appropriate size venue challenging. It’s best to have too much than too little when it comes to venue size, food and drink. In most cases, catering to the same number of people at the funeral is a good approach. You may also want to send invites and receive RSVPs to get a better idea of numbers.


Some venues provide catering for wakes. If not, your funeral director can recommend a good caterer who does food for wakes. If you are looking to reduce costs, you can arrange to provide your own food by asking friends and relatives to bring sandwich platters and other buffet food items. Make sure you check with the venue first, as some may not allow you to bring and serve your own food.

Funeral and Wake Services in Western Australia

Hetherington Funerals are here to help you organise funeral ceremonies and wakes in Western Australia. Our compassionate and professional team have the knowledge and connections to help you create a meaningful funeral ceremony and a wake that reflects the unique personality of your loved one.

For more information or advice, please contact us on (08) 9459 2846, submit an enquiry on our contact page or look at our funeral services here.