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What is a Funeral Wake?

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Organising a wake is a common element in a funeral service. This celebration of life is dedicated to the deceased and is often an informal way to reminisce with family and friends.

Funeral Wake

What is a funeral wake, and what is the difference between a funeral and a wake?

A funeral wake is a get-together of family and friends to celebrate the life of the deceased. Traditionally, wakes were held before a funeral service. However, nowadays, they typically take place afterwards.

This differs from the funeral service, as a funeral is either a religious or non-religious ceremony conducted by clergy members or a registered funeral celebrant.

What happens at a funeral wake?

Wakes are a special time for loved ones of the deceased. They can be an informal or a more formal gathering of loved ones, and they take place in a location chosen by the family.

Some wakes also involve readings and prayers. But, most involve a social gathering, which includes food and drinks to enjoy while remembering the departed.

Do you have to have a wake after a funeral?

Holding a wake is entirely at the discretion of the family. It is not a requirement to have a wake before or after the funeral service. So this is decided when making the arrangements.

What is a wake at a funeral home?

A wake at a funeral home often takes place before the funeral service. It is also known as a ‘viewing’ in some religions and involves gathering around the deceased to say goodbye.

Who should attend a wake?

The organisers of a funeral and wake can decide to make this occasion a private or public event. The details of a wake are typically included within the order of service at the funeral and include the location and other relevant information.

Public funeral announcements often include details of a wake after the funeral. However, the family may decide to invite close family and friends for an intimate get-together.

Do you take anything to a wake?

There are no requirements for attendees to take anything to a wake. You may feel that taking a card of condolence is appropriate. However, it is not expected.

How long does a wake last?

Wakes typically last a few hours. However, depending on the location, this may differ. Some families organise a larger celebration and hire a venue that accommodates socialising for several hours after the funeral service. There is not generally a set time for guests to leave a wake. Most people leave when they feel it’s appropriate.

What do you wear to a wake?

A funeral wake commonly takes place after a funeral service. So, your attire during this is perfectly acceptable for the wake. There’s no need to change.

Is attendance at a funeral wake after the service a requirement?

It is not compulsory to attend a wake after a funeral service. However, letting the deceased’s family know you cannot make it is polite. As funerals are typically held during the week, the organisers understand that work and family commitments may conflict, and your attendance at the funeral service is much appreciated.

Preparing for a funeral wake

Wakes are a personal choice and are arranged to celebrate the life of the deceased. This is a special time for family and friends and attending offers a chance to reminisce and mourn together.

Organising a funeral and wake can be an upsetting time. Our team of compassionate funeral directors in Bristol is available to help you make the necessary plans for a unique service. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with our caring and experienced team, who will be happy to answer your questions. 

Pallbearers play an essential role at funeral services. But there are often questions about how to pick pallbearers and what to expect if you’re chosen for this important role. You might also be wondering, “how many pallbearers do you need for a funeral?”  

Pallbearers carrying a coffin

Below, our guide explains some of the main aspects of what pallbearers do – and how many will be needed for a funeral.  

What do pallbearers do at a funeral? 

A pallbearer is an individual that carries the coffin during a funeral service. They typically take the coffin from the hearse to the service in both civil and religious ceremonies. If the deceased is buried, the pallbearers also carry the coffin to the graveside.  

This role is extremely important during a funeral and is seen as an honour and mark of respect for the deceased. People that can’t physically carry the coffin are also welcome to be pallbearers. However, this role is usually referred to as a guard of honour.  

How many pallbearers are needed at a funeral? 

Usually, there are four or six pallbearers that carry the coffin at a funeral. You can choose your own pallbearers for this role. However, your Bristol funeral directors can also arrange a professional service if required. If you have pallbearers that would like to carry the coffin, the funeral director may offer additional individuals to help alongside them.  

How are pallbearers chosen? 

Choosing who to be a pallbearer is a family choice. It can be anyone close to the deceased. However, it does not have to be immediate family. For example, if the deceased is being carried into the funeral service, pallbearers of similar heights are often used to balance out the weight of the coffin. But, if the coffin is being wheeled in via a bier, anyone can escort it to the place of rest.  

Are pallbearers always male? 

Traditionally, pallbearers were male, and this is still the case at many funerals. However, you can select anyone to be a pallbearer, regardless of their gender. 

What to expect if you’re a pallbearer 

If you’ve been asked to be a pallbearer, you may wonder what happens at the funeral. Carrying or escorting the coffin from the hearse is an integral part of the service. However, don’t worry too much about what you need to do before the day. 

The funeral director is on hand to guide pallbearers and will demonstrate how to carry the coffin. They will also tell you where you need to walk and where you’ll be positioned in relation to other pallbearers. Depending on the type of service, you may also be guided on the pace of your walk and how to lay the coffin once you get to its resting stand. In some cases, pallbearers may need to carry the coffin back to the hearse for burial or cremation elsewhere.  

Once a pallbearer has carried out this role, family members often leave space so they can return to the congregation quickly.   

Whether you decide to accept the role of a pallbearer is your personal choice. However, if you are concerned about the physical capabilities required for carrying the coffin, your funeral director can advise on how this will work. For example, if the coffin is being held, an honorary pallbearer role may be suitable. 

Arranging pallbearers with your funeral director  

As independent funeral directors in Bristol, we can help you to arrange pallbearers for your loved one’s funeral. We can also assist if you would like to include family or friends in this important role.  

If you have any questions about pallbearers or other roles within a funeral service, you can get in touch with our caring and experienced team, who will be happy to answer your questions. 

Choosing what your loved one will be laid to rest in is an important decision. Most people commonly select a coffin or casket. But, while these terms are often used interchangeably, they have a few variations in meaning.

red rose flower on wooden coffin in church

So, what is the difference between a coffin and a casket? Let’s take a look…

What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?


In the UK, many people choose a coffin to hold the deceased. This specially designed box has six sides. The top is wider than the bottom section, and they are typically made from wood. However, coffins are available in different materials depending on your preference and budget.

Another aspect that differs from a casket is that a coffin doesn’t usually have handles on the side. If there are handles, they are typically only for decoration, as the pallbearers hold the coffin on their shoulders and support it with their hands.

Additionally, inside a coffin, the deceased is laid within silk or satin material, which is in a neutral or muted colour such as cream, beige or a pastel shade.


The term casket is primarily used in the USA. The main difference between a coffin and a casket is the shape. A casket is a traditional rectangle box with handles at the side so it can be carried at the funeral service.

Before a funeral, the casket is used for viewing the deceased. It is then lowered into the ground if a burial is chosen. However, the casket is not often buried if the deceased is being cremated. A casket may also be used at the wake.

There are some instances where the cremation takes place, and the urn is placed into the casket, and they are buried together. There’s also the option of a cremated ashes casket. This is different from a burial casket as it is purely used for the burial or storage of the deceased’s ashes.

The cost of a casket is another aspect that differs from a coffin. Due to the size and shape, more wood is needed to create this style of box. This makes a casket typically more expensive than a coffin.

Caskets are made out of high-quality wood such as oak, mahogany and walnut. Some are also made from metal. The construction makes them heavier and more costly than a coffin. The lining of a casket is also different to a coffin. The materials used are more extravagant or luxurious and sometimes include padding or quilted fabric.

Choosing a coffin or a casket

The above information covers a common question – what is the difference between a coffin and a casket? Overall, there are key variations in the design, style and cost of a coffin or a casket. However, in the UK, you will typically have a choice of coffin designs suited to your budget and preferences. Likewise, the cost of a coffin varies depending on the material and any special requests. However, your Bristol funeral directors will guide you through the choices to help you select the best option for the deceased.

If you need further advice on whether a coffin or casket is suitable for your loved one, contact our Bristol funeral home today. Our experienced team is happy to help you with advice and guidance on appropriate options.

What you bring to a funeral often depends on your role during the service. However, there are several things that help make the day easier and more meaningful. So, knowing what to bring to a funeral eases the pressure on you.

man with white roses at funeral service

Below, we cover some of the main items to take to a funeral. Plus, the ones you should avoid taking.

What to bring to a funeral service


Funerals can be very upsetting, and it’s natural to be overcome with emotion during the service. Having tissues to hand is ideal for these moments. However, it’s also helpful and a kind gesture if someone nearby needs an extra tissue and you have one available.


If you’re deciding what to bring to a funeral service, flowers are an important consideration. Depending on the service, the family of the deceased may welcome flowers at the service. Details on sending flowers to the funeral home beforehand are sometimes available. However, there is usually a spot to lay flowers at the service.


Many families now ask for donations instead of flowers as a way to pay respect to charities or organisations the deceased supported or benefitted from. These are usually given at the end of the service, and a collection box is available for cash. The Order of Service may also have details of where and how you can donate money.

A sympathy card

A sympathy card is a simple way to show the family your support and appreciation for the deceased. There is typically a place to put flowers and cards at the beginning of the service. However, handing a card over personally to the grieving family is a kind gesture during this painful time.

An umbrella

When deciding what to bring to a funeral, an umbrella might not be first on your list. However, if the weather forecast says rain, it’s best to take an umbrella as you may be required to wait outside before the service.


If you are arranging a funeral for a loved one, having photographs at the service or wake is a moving reminder of the deceased. Many services now display slideshows. So, including photos at the wake is a meaningful way to chat about memories with family and friends.

A guestbook is also another poignant memento of the deceased. This creates a perfect place for everyone to sign their name and add a memory to the book in commemoration.

What not to bring to a funeral service

Flowers (in some cases)

Depending on the funeral, it is sometimes inappropriate to bring flowers with you. For example, if the family requests any flowers be sent to their chosen Bristol funeral home, or they prefer a donation – be sure to respect their request. Also, flowers are deemed culturally insensitive in some religious services, such as Jewish funerals.

Mobile phones or loud electronics

This might sound obvious but it’s surprising how many people disrupt funeral services with loud phone ringtones. Naturally, everyone brings a mobile phone out with them these days. But before you enter the service, turn it off or set it to silent to avoid any disturbances.

Young children

Having children at a funeral is typically at the discretion of the deceased’s family. It may not be an appropriate setting for very young children due to the emotions of the occasion. Instead, arrange for them to be looked after by a family member while you attend the service. In some cases, children are welcome at the wake as this is a chance to celebrate the life of the deceased with everyone.

Preparing for a funeral service

Understanding funeral etiquette is sometimes confusing. However, our team of female funeral directors in Bristol is available to guide you through the necessary preparation to make your loved one’s funeral a special and beautiful service.

To learn more about our services, contact us on 0117 956 4796 or email at

When a loved one passes, there are many decisions to be made about the funeral arrangements. One of the main factors to consider is choosing between a direct or traditional cremation.  

funeral cremation urn with yellow roses

It’s helpful to understand the main differences between these options to make the best choice for your family. Below we cover the main features of each.  

What is a direct cremation?  

A direct cremation is also known as a simple cremation. There is no traditional funeral ceremony and no attendees at a service. In this type of cremation, the deceased is taken to the crematorium, and the cremation takes place. The ashes are returned to loved ones afterwards. In some cases, a small number of family members may attend a committal. 

This cremation option offers a lower-cost alternative compared to a traditional funeral. You will not have the expense of a hearse, transport to the service or coffin. However, the deceased is cremated in a simple coffin such as wood veneer or other material. 

While there is no traditional funeral for a direct cremation, loved ones can organise a celebration of their life at a later date. This gives you the freedom to choose how and when to say goodbye to the deceased.  

The benefits of a direct cremation  

What is a traditional cremation?  

A traditional cremation is a full funeral service, which the family arranges with a funeral director. This type of funeral involves everything from transporting the deceased to the crematorium, to limousines for family members and scheduling a wake or funeral reception for family and friends.  

A complete funeral package also allows you to visit the deceased in a chapel of rest a few days before the service.  

The benefits of a traditional cremation  

Direct or traditional cremation – what is the right option for you? 

Arranging a cremation is a very personal decision. Each option provides a way to say goodbye to your loved one. However, it also has to feel right for the whole family and take into consideration costs and finances.  

The deceased may also have expressed wishes for the cremation, which a funeral director can help with. They may also have a prepaid funeral plan that ensures everything is taken care of when they pass.  

Professional and compassionate funeral services in Bristol  

Whether you choose a direct cremation in Bristol or want a traditional funeral with family and friends present – both provide a way to celebrate the life of a loved one.  

Each cremation option has several benefits, and at Jamieson Funeral Directors, we can help to organise whichever is best for you. Prepaid funeral plans can also take the pressure off family members during an already challenging time – and you can rest assured that everything is taken care of when the time comes.  

If you’d like to find out more about our direct and complete cremation packages, please contact us on 0117 956 4796 or by email at