What is a repast and what does it entail? Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning or attending a repast.
A repast is a gathering, often a meal, that takes place after a funeral. Mourners gather during this informal ritual to grieve, reminisce, and even celebrate their deceased loved one.
The details of a repast are always at the discretion of the family of the departed, but most repasts have certain commonalities. Here are some elements to consider if you are planning or attending a post-funeral repast.
Repast Planning Considerations
A repast can take place in a variety of different locations, depending on the needs and intentions of the family of the deceased. Some families choose to celebrate their departed loved one in their favorite restaurant, while others may prefer the intimacy of their own home or the comfort of their place of worship. Still others may choose to host the repast at the funeral home for the sake of convenience, which can be especially helpful for those who have family members with limited mobility.
Food and Drink
Again, what food and drink is served at a repast depends largely on the family and folks involved in planning. One option is to get food catered, which leaves the family (and guests) with minimal work to do on their end. Another option is a potluck where guests bring food to share, which minimizes both cost and work for the family of the deceased. If the repast is at a restaurant or event venue, the family might choose to purchase food there. Consider serving food that is easily shareable for your guests. Here are some common dishes served at repasts:
- Finger-foods and hors d’oeuvres
- Sandwich platters
- Soup and salad
- Various pastas
- Fried chicken
The size of a repast celebration varies but typically consists of extended family, the deceased’s friends and loved ones, and the family members’ friends and loved ones for support. Sometimes, families choose to announce the repast at the funeral, inviting everyone who attended to join the family for a meal. Still other families will opt to have a very small repast with just the immediate family if the deceased.
The beauty of a repast is that it can be whatever the family of the deceased needs it to be. When planning, remember to take into account what works best for you! Does the time and energy catering saves you make up for its cost? Would you prefer to save money and host the repast at home, even if it means you’ll have to do some extra preparation? A repast can cost whatever the family feels is right for them.
Potential Repast Expenses
As previously mentioned, each of these elements can be inexpensive or even free. If the family does choose to spend money on a repast celebration, they should consider the following:
The most expensive option for where to host a repast is renting an event space, like a room at a local hall or hotel. Similarly, renting out a section in a restaurant can run up the price of a repast (although, depending on the size of your gathering, you may only need to reserve it in advance rather than pay for it). More inexpensive options may be renting a space in a funeral home or place of worship. Repasts can also take place in a family member’s home, or even as a picnic in a yard or park.
Equipment and Supplies
Some venues provide equipment in their total cost, including things like tables and chairs, plates and cutlery, and sometimes even staff to serve the meal. Decorations may also be included with the venue, or you may need to provide them yourself. Make sure to ask what is included if you rent a venue for a repast – this lets you know what you still need to provide or what you can do without, which could save you money. Similarly, if you are purchasing supplies for yourself, shop your options to make sure you get a price you are comfortable paying.
Full catering is the most pricey option for providing food at a repast, but it is far from the only one. Going to a restaurant together encourages people to pay for their own meals while still allowing the family to spend time together. The host can also cook the meal, which can be considerably less expensive than catering or eating at a restaurant, or they can ask family and friends to bring food for a potluck, distributing food costs more evenly. If you do opt to have a potluck repast, make sure to notify your guests far enough in advance that they can plan to bring a dish!
Repast Guest Considerations
Repasts can be both somber and celebratory. They are less formal than funerals, but they still merit respect and attentiveness to the needs of the deceased’s family. If you have been invited to a repast, consider the following tips:
Since a repast typically takes place after a funeral, attendees usually wear funeral-appropriate clothing. The most important thing to remember is to be respectful of the family of the deceased in your dress; stick with dark and neutral tones and a modest style.
Make sure to ask the family what they need before deciding on a gift to bring to a funeral or repast. While some families love receiving flowers in honor of the departed, others would find a home-cooked meal much more helpful (especially if the repast is a potluck). Many families will have a donation system set up with the funeral home where guests can donate to the family’s organization of choice.
Though repasts are often less formal than funerals and wakes, they still merit the same respect for the deceased and their family. Be attentive to the family, especially if they make speeches or toasts. Keep your phone on silent or “do not disturb.” Be mindful of how much you eat and drink, and be considerate of the family’s budget. A repast is a time for guests to visit with and support each other and the family of the deceased, so avoid talking too loudly or over any of the family members.