Funeral Wakes

A funeral wake is when there is a get together before the actual funeral takes place which allows family and friends the chance to honor their friend or loved one.  Wakes can also be called viewings or visitations and usually take place in a funeral home, a chapel or at a the family’s home. Usually the body is present, but it is not necessary.  The casket can be closed or open if the body will be on location.  The most common time to hold a wake is in the afternoon or in the early evening, and it should be open for 2 to 4 hours.  While the wake is taking place, close friends and family members should be present greeting guests.  It is up to you whether you want to have a wake or not as it is not necessary.

Details of the funeral wake are often listed in the newspaper obituary or death notice.  It is advisable to call family members and friends with the date of the wake, the time and the location. Nowadays, emailing is also common practice.  If you would like to have a private wake, please inform the public it is private in the newspaper obituary.  Be sure to work closely with the funeral home or directory to make sure the body is ready for viewing, the location is ready and staffed for the wake if it will be held at a funeral home.

There are many options involving a wake, it could be traditional or unique and personalized. Read our article “Memorial Service Ideas” for more information.  Traditionally wakes are held at a funeral home, but in a more contemporary fashion, it could be held at a restaurant, pub, community center etc. You will usually still find a guestbook or a registry in order for guests to leave their name and contact information.  During the wake, you may like to arrange a table with personal items and photographs of your loved one for all to see.  You may like to present a slideshow video during a non-traditional wake. Additionally you may like to offer guests the opportunity to share their memories with you loved one by writing them down on memory cards.  You can serve food and sometimes drinks depending on your chosen location.