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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.

If you’re unsure about what to wear to a funeral, read this guide for women and men. This FAQ is helpful for what to wear in the summer months.

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.

Read more: Why Are Funerals Important?

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. 

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