Guests & Invitations

Guests and Invitations

For a private farewell, you will need to send invitations out to people you would like to attend. You may have a clear idea of who you would like to attend, or perhaps there are people you would prefer not to attend, writing a guestlist will help you manage this with your family members.

Writing a guest list

If there are any gaps in contact information or you are not sure if you are missing someone then looking through your loved one’s address book, emails, phone, diary, or even old birthday cards and letters may be useful.

For open events it is not necessary to prepare a guest list as you do not need to send individual invitations out. Instead, you could post the open invitation somewhere public such as your loved one’s Facebook page. This can be a good option if you would like to spread the word and make sure that their entire network is included.

How to invite people to a funeral

When considering how to invite guests to a funeral service, you may want to consider the number of guests on your list, what contact details you have access to, the age range of the guests, budget, the timeframes you are working to and your personal preferences. Some of the options available are:

  • Printed invitations
  • Email invitations
  • Texts
  • Phone calls
  • Social media private messages
  • Facebook event invite
  • Posting an open invitation on your loved one’s Facebook profile
  • Open invitation in a public death notice.

Seating at a funeral

Traditionally, the first few rows of seating are reserved for close family. If there are elderly guests attending, you may want to reserve seating for them near the front. If you are working with a funeral home, they should have ‘Reserved’ seating signage that you can use, or you can create your own.

To ensure the service goes smoothly, it is worthwhile informing anyone who has reserved seating before they arrive.

What details to include in a funeral invitation

Whatever format you choose for the invitations, including all of the information that the guests will need to know will minimise the queries you will need to respond to in the run up to the day. The most important details to include on all funeral service and wake invitations are:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Arrival time, date and address of the farewell service
  • Whether the service is public or private
  • Contact information and a date to RSVP by, if required
  • Information about the wake if one is taking place after the farewell
  • Information about whether flowers or charity donations in lieu of flowers are preferred
  • Any specific venue information e.g. parking.

Example 1

Join the family of Matthew Jenkins as we celebrate his life on Thursday 20th June 2022.

The service will be held at Brownstone Funeral Home with reception to follow.

In accordance with Matthew’s final wishes, the family kindly ask for donations to Cancer Research in lieu of flowers.

Please RSVP to by Monday 17th June.

Example 2

It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our father James Harris passed away on February 10th 2022 following a sudden illness. A private funeral will be held. The family would like to invite you to a celebration in his honour at 5pm on Sunday 20th February. Please bring a story to share and a photo for the memorial book. Dinner and drinks provided.

The Smith Family address is 56 Whitley Street, Davenport, Auckland.


Asking for RSVPs can be a good option to get an idea of numbers if you are posting an invitation publicly, such as on the deceased person’s Facebook page, rather than sending invitations out to a set guest list.

If you are providing food and drink, or if you would like to know how many elderly guests are attending so you can reserve seating for them, you may find it helpful to know who to expect. Ask a family member to be in charge of escorting people to their seats.

Traditionally, the first few rows of seating at a funeral are for close family and elderly guests.