9 Suitable Locations To Host the Funeral Reception & Why

One of the most essential aspects of planning a funeral reception is its location. This is no small task, as the location can greatly influence the overall tone of the reception, as well as the cost. 

Here are nine suitable locations to host a funeral reception: 

  1. Place of worship 
  2. Funeral home parlor 
  3. Home of a friend or relative 
  4. Community venue 
  5. Sports stadium 
  6. Yacht or boat 
  7. Historic building 
  8. Park or botanical garden  
  9. Barn 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these locations. I’ll explain in greater detail why these are acceptable options for a funeral reception and what drawbacks (if any) you should expect from them. 

1. Place of Worship 

Churches and other places of worship are popular locations for memorial services and funeral receptions because they often have plenty of seating and space available. Also, if the deceased was religious or an active member of a church community, it makes sense to hold their funeral reception in a place that was important to them, and a place many of their loved ones are likely familiar with. 

Funeral receptions may look different depending on the religion of the deceased. For example, Buddhists hold wakes after funeral services, where they build an altar with a portrait of the deceased as the centerpiece. Loved ones can light candles and give gifts of flowers and fruits to pay their respects. Catholics also hold wakes after funerals, although without an altar.

One thing to consider if you’re planning on hosting a funeral reception at a place of worship is the possible cost. Depending on the church, mosque, or building, there may be an upfront fee for a memorial service. This typically ranges from $300 to $500, depending on the type of service. Usually, if you pay the fee for a memorial service at the place of worship, you can also host a reception after the service in the same building for no additional cost. 

Another benefit of hosting a funeral reception at a place of worship is that these places often have volunteer groups eager to help plan and organize reception arrangements, so you won’t be alone in taking care of the details. This is important because it can be difficult to focus on coordinating a reception when you’re also trying to grieve. 

2. Funeral Home Parlor 

Funeral homes are a fairly recent development, as traditionally, tending to and celebrating the dead took place in family homes instead of an outside place. However, with the massive casualties the Civil War brought, it became unrealistic for people to hold funerals and receptions in their family homes. As a result, funeral homes rose in popularity. 

During this time, embalming became a common practice, as bodies needed to be preserved long enough to get transported back to their loved ones. 

These days, funeral homes take care of embalming and other services such as cremations, burial plots, managing guest lists, and selling caskets and urns. 

Funeral homes also allow their parlors to be used for funeral receptions. This is certainly convenient, as mourners won’t need to move from the funeral home after the service and can simply walk into the next room. 

However, remember that these spaces are usually small, so if the deceased left behind many loved ones who’d like to attend a reception, a funeral home parlor might not be big enough. 

View inside funeral home with couches and chairs

Something else to consider is that, because a funeral home is a smaller space, any food served will likely have to be smaller finger foods, as there won’t be enough room to arrange seating for a full, sit-down meal. 

Finger foods are common for funeral receptions, so this doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. But if you’re planning on having a full meal for mourners at the reception, a funeral home parlor might not be sufficient. 

Funeral home rental costs an average of $500, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, and the cost of funeral home staff is another $500.  

3. Home of a Friend or Relative

The most traditional location to host a funeral reception is at the home of a friend or a relative. Before the 1860s, it was common practice to be with loved ones in private homes when they passed away, after which friends and family tended to the body and dug the grave.

It’s still customary to hold a funeral reception at the home of a friend or relative of the deceased. This allows friends and family to gather in a more informal environment and share stories, memories, and tears.

Having the funeral reception at one’s home allows it to be a more casual affair, and it’s common for the reception to be a potluck or picnic in someone’s backyard. This suits some people’s grieving styles better than a more formal reception in a place of worship or funeral home. It’s also a great way to honor the deceased, as you’ll be remembering them in a place where they likely spent a lot of their time.  

One drawback to hosting a reception at someone’s home is that there may not be enough space depending on the number of guests you expect. Seating can also be an issue, especially when serving a meal. 

However, because it’s someone’s home, there aren’t any rental fees you’ll need to worry about, so if you have a tight budget, this is a great option. 

4. Community Venue 

Public venues, such as a community center or a building on a college campus, can be a cost-effective option for a funeral reception. It’s also a great, neutral space where all guests can feel comfortable. Additionally, community centers offer space you won’t get at someone’s home or in a funeral home parlor. 

Community centers usually have plenty of tables and chairs for guests, so you won’t need to worry about seating. There are usually more than enough bathrooms for everyone, which is not necessarily the case when hosting a reception at someone’s home. These public spaces are usually available to rent by the hour and vary widely in price. Typically, the cost is around $100-$200 per hour. 

One downside of renting a community venue for a funeral reception is that it’s unlikely the space meant much to the deceased. However, if you take the time to decorate the space and honor the deceased with pictures and other memorabilia, you can transform it into one that honors them and their memory, even if they didn’t spend much time there themselves.    

5. Sports Stadium 

If the deceased were a huge sports fan, one creative way to honor them and their passion is to rent a space in their favorite sports venue for the funeral reception. Larger stadiums may be unattainable or too expensive to rent. Smaller venues or school stadiums can also be a great choice for reception because they honor the deceased, offer ample space for outdoor seating, and are a more personalized location than a funeral home parlor or community venue. 

6. Yacht or Boat 

Another unique location for a funeral reception is a yacht or a boat. If the deceased loved to be out on the water when they were alive, this could be a great way to feel connected to them as you grieve and honor their memory. This can also be a cost-effective location if a relative or loved one already has a boat they’re willing to host people on, although you can also rent a boat or a yacht if need be. 

During the off-season, a yacht costs approximately $1,500 for the entire day. 

However, this location is limited in terms of space, so the reception will need to be small enough that everyone can move around the boat comfortably, and the facilities are sufficient for all the guests. Seating can also be challenging, especially if you want to serve food. 

7. Historic Building 

If the deceased was a history buff, a clever way to honor that passion is to rent a historic building for the funeral reception. If there’s a historic building near you, research to see if they have a space available for rent that would be sufficient for you and your guests. 

8. Park or Botanical Garden 

If the weather permits, an outdoor space can be a great place for many people to gather and remember the deceased. You likely won’t have to worry about running out of room for everyone, and being in nature can often make people feel more connected to the deceased in a comfortable way. 

On the flip side, hosting a funeral reception in a park or garden may not be the best due to the unpredictability of general weather patterns. If it starts to rain, snow, or hail, you’re out of luck. Additionally, some spaces in nicer botanical gardens can be expensive to rent. 

9. Barn 

If the deceased was a farmer, or if they were simply a more casual and outdoorsy person, a fixed-up barn may be the perfect location for the funeral reception. A barn is a large space most people will feel comfortable in, and you’ll likely have more than enough room for everyone. 

However, if you’re renting a barn, you’ll need to hire outside caterers if you want to serve food, and you’ll most likely be responsible for setting up and cleaning up the space. Furthermore, even though it’s a more rustic space, some barn rentals can be extremely expensive. 


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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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