Coronavirus restrictions imposed on funerals and wakes come to an end next month, meaning families can give their loved ones the full send-offs they deserve.

More than 30 people will be able to gather for funerals and wakes from June 21st, if all legal limits on social contact are lifted as expected.

Naturally, funeral services still went ahead during the months of the pandemic, just with fewer mourners in attendance than usual.

Wakes, however, were largely abandoned due constraints on the mixing of households and a lack of open venues.

Now that hotels, restaurants, bars, community centres and other public spaces have reopened, wakes will return as soon as more than 30 people can gather together.

Wakes are the social side of saying a final farewell. They bring people together in a different ambience, adding an important uplifting element to the mourning process.

To help you plan a wake, either before or after a funeral, here are some things you may wish to consider if you want your wake to be a memorable one.

Choose a relevant venue

There is no right or wrong place to hold a wake. Wakes can be held where you like. All you need is permission from the venue and enough money to cover its part in the event.  Popular venues for wakes include hotels, pubs, restaurants, homes, church halls, sports clubs, social clubs and any other venue where it’s appropriate to raise a toast and a smile in remembrance. Wakes can be made more meaningful if held in a place which meant something to the departed.

Decorate the space with memorabilia

Filling the venue with your loved one’s belongings brings their life and passions more into play. Possessions such as medals, trophies, sports kits, trade tools, musical instruments, jewellery, uniforms, books and reminders of pastimes enjoyed help to pay tribute to the life they lived. Complemented with framed photographs, or a photo album, and a book of remembrance to sign, such items can trigger memories and discussion. Some cultures allow an open coffin to be present at wakes held before funerals, giving attendees a last chance to say goodbye.

Play some fitting music

The hymns and music played during a funeral service often hit sombre notes for those who gather to mourn the loss of a loved one. In contrast, a wake offers the opportunity to play more upbeat melodies which celebrate the life they led. Creating a soundtrack which spans the years of their life, or simply playing songs that they loved, provides an appropriate way to fill the room with music and memories. An increasing number of people are choosing to have singers, bands and DJs provide live music at modern wakes.

Screen a video montage

In the modern world, smartphones capture video footage of life moments that can be sent, shared and compiled easily. Ask those who spent fun, poignant and important occasions with the departed to send their video clips with a brief note about each. Free-to-download editing software is enough to create a video montage, for an uplifting and touching tribute. If this presents too much of a technical challenge, a slide show of the person’s life in photographs can also help people refresh memories and celebrate their loved one’s life.

Serve their favourite foods

It’s normal to provide food for those who attend a wake, to help them share in a communal event of celebration and remembrance. Depending on the venue, catering may be included in the booking fee. When it isn’t, you can arrange for outside catering to provide sustenance or provide your own food, or perhaps guests can bring dishes to share. Everyone has a favourite dish. Serving your loved one’s favourite food and drink adds another reflection on their life and many venues and caterers accommodate such requests when asked.

Compile a list of speakers

Asking people who knew your loved one to say a few words about their life adds depth to a wake. Once the family of the deceased has met guests on arrival at the venue they may wish to begin a round of kind words, speeches and anecdotes to sum up the life and times of the departed. Those from different areas of their life can follow suit. Many venues provide microphones and sound systems if needed. Creating a touching tribute like this helps guests to reminisce in a cathartic way during the rest of the wake.

Present guests with a keepsake

Wakes should be held as a unique and unifying event, in reflection and celebration of a loved one’s life. They help to bring closure to family and friends. Ensuring guests at your wake leave with a memento of your loved one and the wake can provide a fitting end to your gathering. A small framed photograph, or even a pen drive of images, a memorial candle, house or garden plant, a packet of seeds or some bulbs of their favourite flower can help to keep your loved one in mourners’ lives for a little longer.

If you’re considering how you’d like to be remembered at your funeral or wake, you can record your personal wishes when you buy a Rest Assured funeral plan.

At the appropriate moment, we’ll pass your requests on to your chosen funeral director so your friends and family will know what kind of service and wake you want.

Call Rest Assured Funeral Plans on 03333 226 677 or use this contact form to get in touch and discuss your needs with us.