Who Should I Invite to the Funeral?

Elderly couple smiling in a garden.

The passing of a loved one is an emotionally overwhelming experience. Thinking about planning a funeral, and who to call, and how many people to order catering for only complicates an already difficult time. How do you figure out who should be at your loved one’s memorial service, and how do you go about inviting them? There are several things to consider when deciding the guest list for a loved one’s services.

Are you planning a public or private funeral?

A public funeral or memorial service is one in which a public announcement is made, such as an obituary or open invitation, welcoming anyone who knew the deceased to come. The opposite of that, a private service is one in which the family of the deceased invites certain people, and a personal invitation is required to attend. If you choose to hold a public funeral, you don’t need to worry about who to invite. Whoever wants to and can attend will do so.

The pros and cons of a public service

Hosting an open funeral service has both its benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is seeing all the friends and family who cared about your loved one come together to honor their life and share their stories. Another is that a public funeral allows people to come that you may not know who had a connection to your loved one, such as old college friends, co-workers, extended family, etc.

Public funerals can come with challenges, however. A large service that can hold a lot of people requires a venue or church big enough for everyone, as well as catering that can feed many mouths, both of which can be more expensive than if you were hosting a smaller ceremony. A public funeral also means anyone may feel welcome to come, including estranged family members, ex-spouses, or someone you have ill feelings toward, for example. It is in our many years of experience, however, that people who come to the funeral rarely have an ulterior motive. Most everyone wants to pay their respects to someone who had an impact on their lives.

The pros and cons of a private service

A private memorial service or funeral is preferable for some families. It can mean a smaller number of people to provide chairs and refreshments for, or more time to talk to everyone you would like to. However, it also means excluding people who may be grieving the loss of your loved one too, removing their opportunity to say goodbye and find closure in their loss. Gathering with friends and family in grief is an essential part of healing. A private service also means deciding who will (and will not) be invited and sending out personal invitations to those guests. For some, this can be an added burden to an already demanding time.

You can have both.

A funeral or memorial service isn’t the only opportunity for people to gather together to honor a life. They can be accompanied by wakes, rosaries, receptions, burials, scattering ceremonies, and celebrations of life. If you’d like to make the funeral public, you can have an intimate, invite-only reception as well. Or, if you’d like only the family and close friends to attend the memorial service, you can also have a wake where everyone the deceased knew can come.

What’s most important is providing an opportunity for a community to share their love and grieve together in a way that is best for the family of the deceased, and that can happen in a variety of ways. French Funerals & Cremation can walk you through all your options and help you plan the best way to say goodbye.

How to send out invitations to a funeral

There are many ways to invite people to services. For a traditional funeral, services typically are held within a few days of the death, leaving little to no time for printed invitations to be sent out, but can be a beautiful option when inviting guests to a memorial service or celebration of life. Some families opt for an electronic invitation through an online service, or a simple email that can be sent to multiple people at once. For some families, a social media post or phone call is convenient or personal.

Included in the invitation should be the full name of the deceased, the date, time and location of the service, whether the service is public or invite-only, and your contact information. Many families choose to include a picture of their loved one, an option for flower or charitable donations, and personal details about the person’s life and personality. A funeral director will take care of writing an obituary and/or creating announcements if you prefer.

Dealing with the death of someone you love isn’t supposed to be a burden you take on alone, and managing the announcements is no exception. Friends and family can help take on the tasks of letting people know a family member has died, and French Funerals & Cremations is here to handle all the details that come with planning a funeral service, including creating the obituary and announcements. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 505-843-6333 or visit one of our locations in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho if you’d like to learn more about our services. We will always be there to help.


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