Determine food and beverage service needs

Organize a Funeral

Food and drinks are often served at memorial services.

Foods served at a memorial may consist of finger foods or a buffet of dishes and/or sandwiches. You can also ask guests to bring food to be served.

If you will be serving, you will also have to serve beverages. Consider whether or not it will be appropriate to serve alcohol.

Professional catering services can be hired to provide food and beverages,

Tradition and customs may also determine whether or not it is appropriate to serve food/drinks and what types of food/drink may be served.

If working with a funeral home, ask them if food and drinks are permitted, as some state laws prohibit food in funeral homes.

When planning for food and beverage services, factors to consider include:

  • size of gathering
  • time of service
  • expectation of food/drink

Food and beverage service might be served before or after - if before, consider keeping it light. If after, guests will typically expect a proper meal or equivalent amount of food.Consider your food and beverage service needs in terms of both the memorial and post-memorial activities.

Helpful Tips


  • Christian - organizer's discretion
  • Catholic - organizer's discretion
  • Jewish - kosher foods
  • Muslim - halal foods, no alcohol
  • Buddhist - organizer's discretion
  • Hindu - fruit
  • Orthodox Christian - organizer's discretion
  • Jehovah's Witness - organizer's discretion
  • Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) - a meal is usually provided after the funeral

Certain kinds of food are more common before or after funeral services, especially when a potluck is scheduled and attendees are expected to bring something. If there are special dietary restrictions from the family, make sure these are shared in advance with anyone making food. Foods easily transported, stored, and served are most appropriate.

The most popular kinds of food served at funerals include:

  • Casseroles

  • Salads

  • Charcuterie trays

  • Finger foods like deviled eggs or small sandwiches

Religious traditions or restrictions might influence which kinds of foods are welcome at a funeral service. Check with the family. Some typical customs or traditions include:

  • Halal food, which refers to food allowed under Islamic customs
  • Irish wakes, which typically feature tea and finger sandwiches
  • Kosher food, which refers to food allowed under Jewish customs

Personal Considerations


Will food and/or beverage service be required at the memorial or a post-memorial activity?


Budget accordingly. Consider how much you'd like to offer.

The post-memorial activity may be a food- and drink-centered event.

Choose a venue that will allow food if this is important to you. Learn any rules about bringing in or serving food if the event will be hosted at a community center, place of worship, or other location.

Consult with any family members or friends who might want to organize or contribute to a potluck.

Don't forget to consider the dietary needs of attendees when selecting food and drinks to offer.

If food will be offered, consider sharing this information on the funeral service website or in any invitations shared with guests.


You will not need a venue equipped to handle such service.

You may still wish to provide water to guests if the memorial will occur during the summer (e.g., a case of water bottles).


If food and beverage service will be required at the memorial or post-memorial activity:

Budget accordingly. Consider how much you'd like to offer.

The post-memorial activity may be a food- and drink-centered event.

Choose a venue that will allow food if this is important to you. Learn any rules about bringing in or serving food if the event will be hosted at a community center, place of worship, or other location.

Consult with any family members or friends who might want to organize or contribute to a potluck.

Don't forget to consider the dietary needs of attendees when selecting food and drinks to offer.

If food will be offered, consider sharing this information on the funeral service website or in any invitations shared with guests.

If food and beverage service will not be required at the memorial or post-memorial activity:

You will not need a venue equipped to handle such service.

You may still wish to provide water to guests if the memorial will occur during the summer (e.g., a case of water bottles).


Organize a Funeral