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What is a funeral celebrant?


Organising a funeral

This guide will explore the role of a funeral celebrant, answering questions such as ‘what is a funeral celebrant?’ and ‘how much does a funeral celebrant cost?’ to make your decisions easier when arranging a funeral.

A funeral celebrant, or funeral officiant is a qualified person, usually from a non-clergy background, who officiates funeral services. Funeral celebrants typically help organise and conduct funerals, supporting the bereaved family every step of the way with the aim of celebrating the life of the person who has died.

Funeral celebrants tend to be independent and will usually be engaged by the funeral director on behalf of the family. A funeral celebrant should be able to offer a non-religious funeral as well as services with prayers and spiritual themes. Many people choose a funeral celebrant to conduct their loved one’s funeral as the service can be custom made to best reflect the wishes of the family and the life of the deceased.

What does a funeral celebrant do?

To put it simply, a celebrant means ‘a person who leads a ceremony such as a marriage or a funeral’ but, what specifically is a funeral celebrant, and what role do they play in the service?

  • Support you from the first meeting to the end of the service
  • Ensure that the wishes of the family are carried out
  • Guide you through the day of the service, during a difficult and emotional time
  • Prepare the eulogy together with the family so it is a genuine reflection of the deceased
  • Ensure that the service is time sensitive and is not rushed.

Organising the funeral

Once a funeral celebrant has been engaged, they should contact you to arrange a face-to-face meeting. If a meeting is not possible, then phone or video calls can be used. The funeral celebrant may offer to meet you at your home or, if more convenient, a meeting at the funeral director’s office can usually be arranged.

At this meeting, the celebrant should create a comfortable atmosphere, in open conversation, to understand your wishes and those of the deceased . They will listen carefully to you and gauge how much participation other family and friends of the deceased would like to have in the service.

The celebrant may ask you questions about the life of your loved one, their character, their values, and what made them the person they were. To help tell their story, funeral officiants encourage families and friends to share memories that illustrate the different aspects and interests of their life. If you’d like to know more about ways of personalising a funeral, read our post on how to personalise a funeral.

A celebration of life can include readings, music and funeral poems to help express emotions that are otherwise difficult to formulate. An experienced funeral celebrant can help make suggestions of suitable readings, poems and music, but of course the choice always remains with the family.

Unsure about the steps involved in organising a funeral? Our guide on planning a funeral has step-by-step instructions, with helpful tips to make the experience of organising your loved one’s funeral as smooth as possible.

Creating an order of service

From this discussion, a funeral order of service can then be created. If service sheets are being printed, the order of service can be confirmed to the funeral director or to the person who will be designing and printing the service sheets.

As most celebrant services are conducted at crematorium chapels, you should check whether they have audio facilities for your chosen music. If individual music recordings are to be played or the service is conducted elsewhere, separate provisions are likely to be needed.

Officiating the service

The celebrant will take all of the information away and create an individual service that represents the life and times of the deceased. They may produce a draft of the service for you to review and make any necessary amendments or additions before the ceremony.

On the day of the funeral, the funeral officiant will meet you at your chosen venue at the appointed time and proceed to officiate the service to celebrate the life of your loved one.

Why should you choose a funeral celebrant?

At a time when emotions are heightened due to the loss of a loved one, and words don’t seem enough to express the feelings inside, it can be helpful to turn to someone who can naturally empathise with you, who has a maturity of understanding and a wealth of knowledge.

A funeral celebrant can help portray the life and times of an individual within the context of their wishes and the wishes of the family, as well as to conduct a timely event.

A celebrant is someone who can:

  • Lead a fitting ceremony, at an emotional time and in unfamiliar circumstances
  • Be flexible and sensitive about the form that a funeral can take
  • Listen and empathise with you
  • Contribute from experience to create the most suitable, dignified and respectful send off
  • Create a suitable atmosphere at this formal occasion, to celebrate a person’s life.

How to find a funeral celebrant

In order to find the right funeral celebrant, it may be worth asking your local Funeral Director. They will have experience with and gathered feedback from funeral celebrants in the area. They will have worked with celebrants as well as ministers and humanists, so are therefore in good stead to advise on the most appropriate person to conduct your loved one’s funeral.

How much does a funeral celebrant cost?

Another important question is ”how much does a funeral celebrant cost?” Typically, funeral celebrants tend to charge between £150-£250, however, make sure to ask what is included within this price, and if there are any additional charges on top of this fee.

It can be helpful to review any testimonials that the funeral director or celebrant can provide, as this will reflect the experiences of others.

Questions to ask a funeral celebrant

If your chosen funeral director has recommended a funeral celebrant, you can arrange an initial conversation over the phone or face-to-face.

Here are some questions which you may wish to ask a funeral celebrant:

  • Where can we meet to discuss the service?
  • What experience do you have?
  • What process do you follow on the day of the funeral?
  • Do you provide support with eulogies?
  • Are there are any extra charges?
  • Can you provide testimonials or references?

Written by Jonathan Richardson, Love Lane Celebrants

Jonathan Richardson is an experienced and professional funeral celebrant. Love Lane Celebrants help families create ceremonies that are inspirational and personal, celebrating the life of a loved one.

For more information, visit Love Lane Celebrants.

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