Holding a Funeral by Invitation Only

How to Have an Invitation Only Funeral

How to Have an Invitation Only Funeral

It’s not uncommon for a family to wish to take their grief out of the public eye and hold a private mourning ceremony just for close friends and relatives. Whether the deceased was a public figure, died a newsworthy death, or simply wished for the funeral to be kept small, you can hold a funeral or memorial service by invitation only. Most of the funeral plans will stay the same, with one or two notable exceptions.

Obituary: You’ll need to strategize the obituary to make it clear that the funeral is open by invite only. One option is to skip the obituary and death notice altogether. By not publicly announcing the death, you won’t need to worry about those who aren’t invited stopping by. You can also put in an obituary but word it carefully. You can mention that it will be a “closed funeral” and ask for prayers instead of flowers or visits.

Funeral Invitations: It might seem strange to send out funeral invitations, but these are actually quite common if you want to keep things small and private. Most invitation companies offer funeral card options, or you can make your own. A personalized note inviting someone to attend can offer comfort in a time of grief and loss, and you can print photos or quotes to make things even more memorable.

Make sure you include:

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  • The deceased’s full name and date of death
  • Location of funeral
  • Time of funeral
  • In lieu of donation options (if there are any)
  • An expression of invitation and a “by invitation only” reminder
  • RSVP information

Online Planning: While it’s probably best to skip setting up a Facebook Event page or equally informal platform for inviting guests, you can turn to online planners for help keeping all the information and guest list organized. Evite is one site offering this kind of service to families in mourning.

Acceptance of Funeral Crashers: Unless you hire a guard or post someone at the door to check invitations before guests are let in (which is more common for celebrity funerals), chances are you’ll get well-wishers who weren’t invited. Try to make them feel welcome instead of asking them to leave. It’s impossible to control the grief of others, and to make them feel out of place by mentioning they aren’t allowed in could make their grief worse.

You might also opt to hold a second memorial service at a later date that is open to everyone. A small, private funeral with a wake or viewing (or at the cemetery) will help you keep the situation contained, and you can hold a less formal service a few weeks later with a barbeque or other semi-celebratory atmosphere. This will help lessen hurt feelings and ensure that everyone has a safe, comfortable place to mourn.

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