A funeral celebrant is a qualified person who officiates funeral services by planning and overseeing funeral proceedings. Funeral celebrants conduct non-religious, semi-religious and spiritual funeral services.

Many celebrants aim for the funeral service to be a ‘celebration of life’ that honours the person’s memory. This approach places an emphasis on how the person lived their life, their personality traits and the memories of mourners. For this reason, celebrants are the go-to option for people looking to create ceremonies of substance and meaning without necessarily mentioning religious beliefs or the afterlife.

 

When do you need a funeral celebrant?

  • If you would like someone to take charge of the main speaking role in a funeral service
  • If you would like someone who can be very flexible about the form the funeral will take
  • If you’d like some help developing a structure for the ceremony and thinking of what to include

How to choose a funeral celebrant

You can rely on a celebrant recommendation from your funeral director, however it’s best to track them down yourself. You might want to ask your funeral director for a couple of recommendations, and then call up the ones that sound suitable to narrow it down to just one or two, if you’re still not sure. You should then meet with them in person, and decide they will be able to deliver the funeral service you are hoping for.

Otherwise, you might want to search online and then draw up a shortlist of candidates. On your first meeting with the celebrant, explain what kind of funeral you are looking for and what level of influence you’d like over the funeral – some are more flexible than others. If you choose a celebrant who is a member of a particular organisation, consider how this will impact the feel and content of the overall service.

Most importantly, you should trust your celebrant to create the right service for your loved one.

Questions to ask your funeral celebrant

When it comes to vetting funeral celebrants, you may be stumped for questions. You could start by looking over the following:

  • Can you visit me at my home?
  • How many funerals do you do each week?
  • Can you give me a script of the funeral afterwards?
  • How much do you charge?
  • When can I reach you to discuss any changes I want to make?
  • Can you put me in touch with one of your previous clients?

How much does a celebrant cost?

Celebrants tend to charge around £150-250. It’s best to ask what’s included in this price, and if there are any additional charges on top of the main fee. In comparison, the Church of England charges £182 in minister fees. You can see the Church of England’s charges for 2017 here.

What qualifications should a funeral celebrant have?

There are a number of organisations that provide training and qualifications to funeral celebrants, but it is not essential, nor is it necessarily the mark of a good celebrant. Some popular organisations are:

Many funeral celebrants work independently, and can be found through recommendations and word of mouth, as well as using celebrant directory sites. One site you can use to find celebrants is funeralcelebrants.org.uk, which celebrants can independently sign up to and list their services.

The mark of a good celebrant is someone who is willing to work closely with you, following your instructions whilst bringing their own ideas to create the right funeral for you and your loved one. The celebrant role combines three qualities: a good listener, a good writer and a good performer.

Can I conduct a funeral myself?

Funerals have no legal status, and so anyone can lead a funeral ceremony if they wish. Acting as celebrant for a funeral of a family member or close friend can be a very meaningful gesture, and you don’t need any official training to officiate a funeral. It is, of course, an enormous responsibility, and being able to hold your composure is essential. You could arrange a session with a celebrant to talk through your ideas for the funeral and get some creative input.

How to find a funeral celebrant

Your best options are to head to Funeral Celebrants, or to the Humanists UK websites and search there.

You may also wish to ask your chosen funeral director if they can recommend someone locally who they’ve worked with previously. Begin arranging a funeral through Beyond here.

You can also specify an individual celebrant to officiate your ceremony within a funeral plan, though it’s worth checking with that person before naming them as your celebrant in your plan.

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