End of Life

What to Bring to a Funeral Reception or Memorial Service: Flowers, Cards, & More

Wondering what to bring to a funeral service or reception? We'll walk you through your options in this blog post.
Nathaniel Felder
5 minutes

After someone passes, the stages of grief and memorial services that follow can be a very delicate and tender time. Even though they can be very somber at the moment, funeral services are a great way to remember a loved one and allow the important people in their life to celebrate them and reflect on happy memories together.

Of course, most people don’t attend these types of services too frequently, which means you may have a number of questions about what the proper etiquette is for gifts, what the major elements of a funeral service are, or even what the difference between a funeral and a memorial service is in the first place. 

But if you’ve ever wondered what do you bring to a funeral, including what to bring to a funeral reception, we will answer all of these questions and more below. 

Are You Supposed to Bring Things to a Funeral or Memorial Service?

While not required, it is customary to bring things like gifts to a funeral or memorial service. The items can either be in remembrance of the person to show your condolences, like a card or flowers, or you can bring things that will help the family during this difficult time like with money or meals.

Of course, if you’re part of the immediate family you may be in charge of bringing more items like photos of the person or a guestbook. But for the other guests just attending the service, you may find yourself asking, “what should I bring to a funeral?”

Especially in modern times when people are hosting a virtual memorial service for their deceased loved ones, this may evoke even more questions about what types of gifts you should give the family at this time.

If you do decide to bring something, you can continue reading below as we cover what do you bring to a funeral and what gifts are appropriate for this emotional event. 

So, What Should I Bring to a Funeral Reception or Memorial Service?

Even if you’ve attended a funeral before, you still may have thought to yourself–what should I bring to a funeral?

Each family may have different requests, religious beliefs, or traditions that can influence what they request from guests, or even what might be expected from you. So take a look at the following list of some ideas of what you can bring to a funeral. 

What Flower to Bring to a Funeral or Memorial Service?

One common question people have around funerals is what flower to bring to a funeral. Flowers continue to be one of the most popular things that people will bring to funerals or memorial services, so it can be a good option if you’re unsure what else to bring.

Plus, nowadays there are many amazing things to do with funeral flowers after the funeral is over, so it isn’t a gift that will immediately go to waste. The simplistic and timeless beauty of flowers shows your sympathy and emotion during this tough time, making them a great symbol for your condolences.

Even still, there are some general rules about what types of flowers are respectful to bring in remembrance of someone. Modest arrangements in subdued or pastel tones are best, as you don’t want to draw too much attention to your gift that takes away from the service itself. Lilies, carnations, and roses are all traditional sympathy flowers, so make sure to request these from your florist with enough time to bring them to the family before the service. 

Other Ideas (In Lieu of Flowers)

If you’d rather not worry about what flower to bring to a funeral, the good news is that there are plenty of other things you can bring or ways to celebrate the person who has passed. There are many other creative ways to memorialize someone, but to play it safe you should pay attention to the requests of the family in order to give them what they need during this time. 

Oftentimes on the funeral announcement, you will notice a request “in lieu of flowers” like to make a charitable donation, funds to cover the funeral service or a number of other requests directly made by the family. 

Should I Bring a Sympathy Card to a Funeral Reception?

Sympathy cards are a great way for you to express your condolences and allow the family to read your kind words later on their own time. The service is emotionally-charged enough, so they may not have the time or energy in the moment to interact with each guest and hear their sympathies.

Bringing a sympathy card is a simple yet powerful gift, as it lets the family know just how much their loved one meant to you, and that you will continue to be there in support even after the funeral is over. 

What About Photos? Framed vs Scrapbook vs Flashdrive

While not one of the more common things to bring to a funeral service, families may appreciate it if you have unseen photos of the person that they can see or have. 

If you have one special photo, it could be meaningful to find a nice frame to bring and display at the service if requested. If you have many photos, you may consider putting some time into crafting a scrapbook that can be looked through at the service and for the years to come. 

Keep in mind that if you have photos that you’d like to keep for yourself, consider making copies of them beforehand so you can give them to a number of the family members. Or, you could even save the photos on a flash drive so they can access them later and upload if needed. 

Food & Drink

Bringing food to the funeral may be appropriate in many cultures, though double-check with the organizers to see what the food arrangements are ahead of time. Even if you don’t bring food to the funeral, it could be very helpful to bring to the family’s home in the days before or after the funeral to give them one less thing to think about during this heavy time.

Providing a meal to the family takes some of the pressure off of them. Additionally, bring the food in disposable containers that way they don’t have to worry about returning the right tupperware or serving dishes to the right people afterward. If you’re unsure what food to bring, think of dishes that are easy to serve to larger groups of people, like casseroles or baked goods. 

What to Bring to a Funeral Based on Specific Religious & Traditions

Additionally, what do you bring to a funeral may also depend on the specific familial traditions or religious views of the deceased. This may dictate what you should wear to the service, what color of flowers to bring, what type of food you should prepare, and a number of other things you’ll want to keep in mind based on the views of the individual.

So, consider the family’s requests and the culture of the individual to do your research and know what the appropriate course of action is for what to bring to their service. 

What NOT to Bring to a Funeral Service or Reception

After considering this list of things that are appropriate to bring to a funeral or memorial service, you may wonder what you should avoid bringing.

Just like there are things you should never do in a cemetery, there are also things you should never bring to a funeral as well. So even though these events are becoming increasingly casual, there are still boundaries for what’s appropriate and what’s better suited for a later time.

For example, some cultures don’t view flowers as appropriate gifts for memorial services. Additionally, avoid bringing gifts that are too extravagant or expensive, which can detract from the grieving family and the person you’re memorializing.

Overall, make your presence at the funeral modest and respectful by leaving loud electronics or devices at home, wearing the proper attire based on the culture, and even leaving kids at home if they are not able to be quiet and respectful during the service. 

Final Thoughts on What to Bring to a Funeral

After reading this guide, hopefully you have a better idea about what to bring to a funeral. Although there is technically no right answer about what to bring to a funeral reception, you should consider the suggestions here and listen to the requests of the family in order to bring the proper items that will show your sympathy.

If you’re looking for a more unique approach to memorializing a loved one, consider making them a proflle on an online tribute website like Forevory. Here, you can make an online memorial guest book, online memorial articles, and share online memorial photos that all grieving loved ones and acquaintances can access.

By sharing memories, photos, and videos of the person, their memory will live on for the years to come and help the grieving family reflect on happier times during this challenging period. So visit Forevory today and see how you can preserve the memory of your late loved one forever. 

Try Forevory for Free

No contracts, no commitment.
Get Started Now
Photos and Videos
Stories and Articles
An Eternal Legacy