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Catering for a Funeral

What to Consider

Catering is an element that is often overlooked when planning a funeral, with people sometimes leaving it until the last minute.

But it’s important to be adequately prepared when it comes to catering for an upcoming funeral or wake, as you are often in the position of host, and need to be as organised as possible.

While your trusted funeral provider can assist in you in liaising with a company that specialises in events and catering, for those who like to do it themselves, here are some useful considerations to help the planning process:

Logistics and costs

Start with the basics and work out how many people you will be catering for, how much you will need to spend, and where the funeral or wake will be held.

The location can influence the style of catering, as not all venues will be able to properly store all kinds of foods. Moreover, think about whether you would like the catering to be in the form of nibbles with drinks, or a more formal dish. If you are hosting a significant amount of people, consider an open buffet style as opposed to finger foods, as this can be easier to prepare.

Try to start planning the catering at the same time that you arrange the funeral service, so that you give yourself enough time to set all the wheels in motion and ensure everything is ready on the day of the funeral.

If you are preparing the catering yourself, make sure that you have all necessary equipment, recipies and ingredients at hand. Also be sure to draw up a list of tasks and responsibilities to delegate to friends and family so that everybody is aware of their role and responsibilities.

Cultural considerations

Families that are of diverse backgrounds may wish to cater for attendees by offering traditional meals from that culture.

For instance, Greek families will traditionally offer bread, olives, cheese, Greek yoghurt, and Metaxa (Greek brandy) for the Makaria, which is known as the ‘mercy meal’ or the ‘meal of blessings’. Italian families will sometimes serve bowls of fruit, wine, pasta dishes and casseroles.

If you are catering for a more multicultural community, you may wish to include a variety of foods on the menu.

To personalise the menu, some families will also base their catering around their loved one’s favourite food, which can add an extra layer of familiarity to the event.

Dietary requirements

Before deciding what to include in your menu, you also need to be aware of any dietary requirements from those who will be attending. Once you have all this information, customise the menu accordingly. This can be done by either providing various meal options, or ensuring the entire menu doesn’t include a particular ingredient such as nuts or dairy.


Remember, the food you’re offering doesn’t need to be incredibly fancy. The main purpose of catering at a funeral or wake is to take the time to gather with loved ones,  pay respects and remembrance to those who have passed away, and reflect on the memories shared with them.