Funeral Reception Cost Breakdown: 5 Examples


Losing a loved one is hard enough, but it can get even more challenging if you’re in charge of planning the funeral and the reception. Not to mention how expensive it can be! Funeral receptions are great opportunities for people who love the deceased to gather and celebrate their life, but they can also be costly. 

Funeral reception costs can vary significantly from $0 to $20,000 or more, depending on the location, the number of guests, food, drink, decorations, invitations, and chair and table rental. Ultimately the decision rests on your personal preference and your budget.   

In the rest of this article, I’ll answer all your inquiries about funeral receptions, including what costs you should expect to pay. I’ll also provide five examples of funeral receptions at various price points, so you can get ideas for your reception based on how much you can afford. So let’s get started!

How Much Does a Funeral Reception Cost?

Funeral receptions can cost you nothing or several thousand dollars, depending on the size and scope of the reception. Many factors influence the cost of a funeral reception, including the number of guests, the location, the food and drink, and more. 

The following table illustrates the range of costs for these various expenses: 

Element Cost Range 
Location$0-$6,000 or more 
If you host the event at a relative’s home, you won’t need to pay rent. Alternatively, renting a unique location, such as a sports stadium or a historic building, can be costly. 
Photography and Videography $0-$400 or more 
If you choose not to have a professional present to capture the event, you don’t need to worry about this cost. If you decide to hire a professional, you can expect to pay an average of $400 for two hours. 
Food and Drink If you choose a potluck format, you may not have to pay for food and beverages. You can also opt not to have any food or refreshments. 
On the other hand, catering can be expensive, especially if you go for a formal plated meal. This meal would cost approximately $145 per person or $7,250 for fifty people. 
If you’re serving alcohol, you can expect to add quite a bit to your budget. An open bar, for example, costs around $2,500. 
Invitations $0-$500 
Sending an email is free, but custom, high-quality paper invitations can cost as much as $500. 
Decorations $0-$2,000 
You can choose to decorate with items you already own or not to decorate at all, or rent or purchase decor to make the space more personalized or aesthetically pleasing. 
Chair and Table Rental $0-$2,000 or more 
Depending on the number of guests or the location, you may not need extra chairs or tables. 
Alternatively, if you need to rent chairs, you can choose from metal or plastic chairs ($1-$2 per chair) up to Chiavari or Tiffany chairs ($8-$10 per chair). 
You can expect to pay between $8-$11 for tables. 

A funeral reception can cost as little or as much as you’d like. According to the above prices, a funeral reception can cost anywhere from $0 to $20,650 or more. 

5 Examples of Funeral Receptions at Different Price Points 

You’re not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of planning a funeral reception. Planning an event can be stressful, especially when you’ve just experienced a loss. Here are some examples of types of funeral receptions you can have at different price points: 

Element Cost Range 
Location$0-$6,000 or more 
If you host the event at a relative’s home, you won’t need to pay rent. Alternatively, renting a unique location, such as a sports stadium or a historic building, can be costly. 
Photography and Videography $0-$400 or more 
If you decide not to have a professional present to capture the event, you don’t need to worry about this cost. If you choose to hire a professional, you can expect to pay an average of $400 for two hours. 
Food and Drink If you choose a potluck format, you may not have to pay for food and beverages. You can also opt not to have any food or refreshments. 
On the other hand, catering can be expensive, especially if you go for a formal plated meal. This meal would cost approximately $145 per person or $7,250 for fifty people. 
If you’re serving alcohol, you can expect to add quite a bit to your budget. An open bar, for example, costs around $2,500. 
Invitations $0-$500 
Sending an email is free, but custom, high-quality paper invitations can cost as much as $500. 
Decorations $0-$2,000 
You can decide to decorate with items you already own or not decorate at all or rent or purchase decor to make the space more personalized or aesthetically pleasing. 
Chair and Table Rental $0-$2,000 or more 
Depending on the number of guests or the location, you may not need extra chairs or tables. 
Alternatively, if you need to rent chairs, you can choose from metal or plastic chairs ($1-$2 per chair) up to Chiavari or Tiffany chairs ($8-$10 per chair). 
You can expect to pay between $8-$11 for tables. 

A funeral reception can cost as little or as much as you’d like. According to the above prices, a funeral reception can cost anywhere from $0 to $20,650 and above.  

Factors that Influence the Cost of a Funeral Reception

Not every person will choose the same reception as many factors can influence the reception costs. Ultimately it comes to personal choice, the closeness to the departed individual, and of course, your budget. 

Here are some of the main factors that will influence your reception costs:

  • The number of guests. One of the most significant aspects of a reception that impacts the price is the number of guests in attendance. More people means a need for more seating, a bigger space, and more food and drink. You don’t have to invite everyone who attends the funeral or knows the departed. If you’d like, you can do a family-only reception or only ask a few of their closest friends. 
  • Duration. The reception duration may involve renting locations and professionals such as photographers, who may charge an hourly rate. Thus, the duration of the reception can influence the cost. Most funeral receptions are approximately two hours. 
  • Local rules and regulations. Throughout the United States, there are varying general requirements for hosting events. Depending on how many guests will be attending the funeral, you may or may not need to plan for legal provisions, such as a special event permit or a Health Department Permit.   
  • Location. There are many suitable locations where you can host a funeral reception, which vary significantly in price. The cost could be as low as zero dollars for rent (if you’re hosting the reception at home, for example) or thousands of dollars (if you were to rent out a famous sports stadium).   
  • Photography and videography. For professional reception coverage, you’ll need to hire a photographer and a videographer, which could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. 
  • Food and drink. This expense also dramatically varies depending on what kind of food and drink you want. You can go as small and cheap as lemonade and a potluck or as big as an open bar and a catered plated dinner.
  • Invitations. Invitations can be a free e-vite or email, or they can be custom. Whichever you choose will influence the price. 
  • Decorations. You can opt to decorate for the reception or not; it’s up to you. However, if you decide on decorations, you’ll need to plan for that in your budget. 
  • Seating. If you’re renting a space that doesn’t have adequate seating and tables for your guests, you may need to rent some. 

Do I Have To Have a Funeral Reception? 

You don’t have to have a funeral reception is not required. Still, it is an ideal opportunity for family, friends, and acquaintances to gather and reminisce about the deceased, which can help with the grieving process. 

Research highlights that meaningful and supportive funerals are important for the bereaved, and a post-funeral reception is an additional step you can take to provide space for everyone who loved the deceased to gather, share stories, and connect.  

A reception also shifts the focus from mourning and sorrow to celebrating the person’s life and remembering them fondly. Funerals can be healing, but they are also largely formal events. A reception is less formal; therefore, people might feel more comfortable expressing themselves and seeking comfort. 

However, remember that, while funeral receptions are common, you are under no obligation to have one if it is too much for you while grieving. If you want a reception but don’t want to overwhelm yourself, reach out to people close to you for help or plan on keeping it a small affair. You can also plan on only inviting family instead of opening it up to everyone at the funeral. 

Modern dining table and chairs in dining room.

What Does a Funeral Reception Include?

Funeral receptions typically include food, refreshments, and decorations or activities personalized to honor the deceased. This reception can take place in a variety of locations.   

Funeral receptions can be as big or as small as you want them to be. It can be as simple as having family members over for dinner and reminiscing or as big as gathering people in a sports stadium with a catered meal.

Here are some ideas of what to include in a funeral reception: 

  • Display photographs of the deceased. 
  • Play your loved one’s favorite music. 
  • Decorate the location with tokens from your loved one’s life, such as trophies or art. 
  • Pass around a microphone so people can share their memories of the deceased if they wish.   
  • Create a moving send-off for the deceased, such as sparklers or paper lanterns. 

Ultimately, the funeral reception is an opportunity for you and others who loved the deceased to heal, so the event can be whatever you want it to be. 

Final Thoughts

The cost of a funeral reception varies greatly, and you can decide about the reception to suit your budget. You may customize The number of guests, location, food, drink, decorations, invitations, and other factors to suit how much you’re willing to spend. Ultimately, a funeral reception can cost you nothing but your time and effort or more than $20,000.

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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