The gathering after a funeral, also known as repast, helps families and friends heal and bond in a less formal setting.
At a funeral reception or funeral ceremony, the family members and friends sit together, remember the person they’ve lost, and share a meal or just snacks and drinks.
This event usually occurs at public reception halls or homes, depending on the family’s wishes and budget.
If you’ve never attended a repast before, you’re probably wondering who pays for dinner after the funeral. The short answer is the deceased’s family, but the long answer isn’t as straightforward.
In today’s article, I will discuss repasts in detail, so you can learn everything you need to know about this event and prepare yourself.
What is the Meal After a Funeral Called?
The meal after a funeral or memorial is called a repast, reception, or ceremony. It’s not a formal event and welcomes everyone who attended the funeral service.
However, some people prefer more private gatherings, so the deceased’s family usually decides whether it will be a public or private repast.
The main purpose of a repast is to celebrate the deceased’s life over a meal.
The word “repast” means “to eat.” In fact, “repast” is a Latin word for “mealtimes.” Over the years, some people have adopted this word for funerals; hence it became a tradition to break bread as a family after losing a loved one.
Repasts occur at reception halls in restaurants, local community centers, churches, and funeral homes. And depending on the family’s wishes, they include a whole meal, snacks, and drinks.
What is the Significance of Serving Meals After a Funeral?
Usually, the family members of the deceased host a repast after the funeral service and provide food and drinks as a gesture to the individuals who attended the funeral.
Most people believe this act of generosity helps the person who left this world; the more food is eaten, the more a blessing is passed onto the person who passed away.
Who Announces the Repast?
Repasts don’t always accompany funerals, so you shouldn’t automatically assume there will be a gathering after the funeral service.
Typically, if there’s a repast, the officiant will announce it from the podium. The officiant will share this detail with the attendees and the address if it’s open to all guests.
If there’s no announcement made, there won’t be a repast, or it’s a private gathering for the deceased’s immediate family and close friends only.
Who Pays for Dinner After Funeral?
Usually, the deceased’s family and close relatives cover the bill for the repast. However, if the family of the dead struggles financially, they might ask guests to contribute.
Everyone needs to know who will pay for the repast because repasts held at restaurants and other public reception halls aren’t cheap. Sometimes, they cost over $2,000.
However, the price of the funeral repast depends on factors such as location, food, and decorations. So, the family has many options and can customize the experience to their budget.
Now, let’s discuss some factors that impact the price of repasts.
Where the repast occurs affects the total price. The location can significantly step up the cost of the dinner.
Typically, the cost of the funeral service at a funeral home or church includes the repast space; however, if you’re hosting the reception at a restaurant or other venues, expect a much higher cost.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can host the reception at a family member’s home, as it’s a much cheaper alternative.
Food and Drinks
Repasts revolve around food and drinks, so these things also affect the cost of a repast. For instance, full catering will cost more than homemade or store-bought meals.
Some venues provide decorations for repasts, such as flowers. However, you can bring other decorations such as photos of the deceased, a guestbook, etc.
As you notice, repasts can cost several thousand dollars. Still, you can manage the total cost with your decisions.
For instance, you can save money by hosting your repast at home with a home-cooked meal. If you’re considering a venue with full catering, expect a much higher cost.
What to Expect at a Repast?
Some people host post-funeral receptions at their homes, while others invite their family and friends for lunch or dinner at a restaurant or social halls of religious worship.
The deceased’s immediate family typically covers the bill for lunch. Still, if the family has financial issues, they might ask the guests to contribute the total cost instead of bringing a funeral gift.
Repasts include either a whole meal or just snacks and drinks.
In most cases, the family provides the meal. However, sometimes, the community or the social committee of the church or synagogue covers the food and drinks.
Repasts aren’t as formal as funerals. They’re more casual and social. However, there’s still etiquette you should follow. For instance, when people share funny memories of the person who passed away, you can laugh, but you should stay respectful.
Also, if there’s alcohol served at the repast, you should drink in moderation.
Lastly, you can take your young children to the post-funeral reception, but note that they should be on good behavior during the funeral service or memorial.
What to Bring to a Repast?
In most cases, the deceased’s family organizes the repast and provides the meal. Still, in some communities, guests bring their food and drinks.
I suggest asking the immediate family what to bring to the repast. Moreover, if you want to get alcohol, check with the person organizing the reception if that’s okay.
Remember that some cultures and religions, like Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism, don’t allow alcohol in general or at funerals.
Lastly, consider bringing a funeral gift, such as flowers, sympathy cards, photographs of the deceased, donations, etc.
How Long to Stay at a Repast?
Some post-funeral ceremonies last for a specific time, while others don’t.
Nevertheless, as with any event, you should determine how long you want to stay at the repast. If you decide to wait until the end, you can help the family clean up.
What’s Good Funeral Repast Etiquette?
Repasts aren’t as ceremonial and strict as funerals. However, you should still follow the expected etiquette. Here’s a list of tips that can help you act appropriately.
Typical Dress Code
Most repasts occur right after the funeral service; therefore, you will probably stay in the same clothes. Typically, most people wear black or neutral colors at funerals.
Funerals aren’t as strict regarding dress codes nowadays; however, you should still stay respectful and avoid colorful and revealing clothing.
Common Funeral Gifts
Funerals don’t require gifts. However, you can express sympathy by bringing a common gift, like flowers, sympathy cards, homemade meals, etc.
Most people bring flowers, as they’re a common funeral gift; however, if you’re attending a Jewish funeral service, avoid funeral flowers, as they’re considered insensitive.
Additionally, if you decide to gift funeral flowers, it’s appropriate to have them sent to the venue beforehand. That way, they can set up the flowers in the funeral hall or ceremony room before the event starts.
You can also help the deceased’s family by bringing toys for the young kids, babysitting, cleaning, etc. Remember that gifting your time is always a good idea.
You can’t comfort the immediate family when someone dies with words. So, show your support through actions.
Lastly, if you believe the family of the person who passed away is experiencing financial issues, donate money instead of bringing a funeral gift.
Extra Etiquette Tips
You should act respectfully at funeral repasts. For instance, don’t show up late or notify the family if you’re late for some reason.
Additionally, turn off your electronics during and after a funeral and repast and minimize your phone usage.
If you’re bringing young children, ensure they’re well-behaved and entertained with toys throughout the process.
Lastly, don’t consume too much food and drinks, especially if there’s alcohol. The meal after the funeral isn’t formal, but you should act respectfully and reasonably.
Do You Have to Have a Reception After a Funeral?
The repast isn’t a mandatory part of the funeral. However, most people choose to host a reception after the funeral because they believe it’s beneficial for the deceased.
If you think a repast will drain you financially, you don’t have to organize one, or you can host one at home with homemade meals.
When attending a funeral service, you should always respect the wishes of the family of the person who passed away.
Some families prefer spending time with their loved ones after funerals over food, while others don’t because everyone grieves differently.
Lastly, if there’s no repast, consider sending a sympathy card to the immediate family in person days after the funeral.
Most families typically gather after a loved one’s funeral and share a meal, also known as repast, reception, or ceremony.
The immediate family hosts the repast after the funeral service and covers the total cost of the meal; however, remember that dinner isn’t mandatory.
So, inform yourself of the wishes and plans of the family and act accordingly.