Funeral Celebrants: Creating Personalized Ceremonies

Funeral CelebrantsFuneral celebrants are professionals who work with families to design custom personalized funerals and memorial ceremonies. The celebrant’s role is to make sure that the ceremony reflects the deceased’s personality, culture, values, and wishes.

The funeral celebrant profession is relatively new to the U.S. It took hold in Australia in the mid-70s where it grew from the practice of using secular professionals to officiate at weddings. Today we find funeral celebrants practicing worldwide.

Celebrants are experienced in personalizing ceremonies in accordance with the family’s wishes. A celebration of life ceremony can incorporate both traditional and non-traditional funeral elements, prayers, quotations, and any type of readings and music. The celebrant’s goal is to work with the loved ones of the deceased to create a ceremony that is as unique as the life of the person who is being honored.

A professional celebrant is expert in holding both secular and religious services. There is a mis-conception that celebrants only do non-religious ceremonies. For those who do not have an affiliation with a particular church but would like to have a religious service, a celebrant can be a good option.

Celebrants are often trained in creating other types of “life cycle” ceremonies such as weddings, anniversaries, and coming of age celebrations. Among the things that a funeral celebrant will do are to help you:

  • Decide where and when to hold the ceremony
  • Set the order of the service
  • Select the music, readings, and quotes that will be used
  • Prepare a eulogy or help you write one
  • Coordinate with the funeral director
  • Officiate the service.

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Why Should I Work With a Celebrant?

You know your loved one but creating a meaningful ceremony to honor her/his life is not an easy task, especially while you are experiencing the emotional trauma of your loss. A Funeral Celebrant has the training, knowledge and skills to collaborate with you to put together a fitting ceremony in the required timeframe and within your budget. A funeral ceremony is a one-time event. You want it to be meaningful, memorable and a proper tribute. Engaging the services of a Funeral Celebrant will help ensure that you accomplish this objective.

Do I Need a Funeral Celebrant and a Funeral Director?

Celebrants and funeral directors often work together on funeral arrangements and the elements of a service. Many funeral homes have celebrants on staff. With regard to the ceremonies, they do many of the same things. However, these are two distinctly different professions.

  • Funeral directors have the technical training to handle the care and preparation of the deceased, including embalming. Celebrants are not trained to handle these aspects of a funeral.
  • Celebrants focus specifically on personalizing the funeral or memorial ceremonies. Their certification involves many hours of training giving them the skills to help families at a time of loss and to personalize services that reflect the life-style and individuality of the the person being honored.
  • A funeral director may have celebrant training in addition to the training she or he received at a mortuary school.
  • Funeral directors are typically involved in traditional funerals where the casket is present and when there is a viewing prior to the funeral. A celebrant may or may not be involved in a traditional funeral.
  • A celebrant and/or a funeral director may be involved in a memorial service where the casket is not present.

How Much Do Funeral Celebrants Cost?

Celebrants are usually independent contractors who set their fees based on their experience, market conditions, and other factors. Costs can range from $250 to $1,000, depending on the services provided. Some celebrants charge a flat fee while others charge by the hour. Since there are no standard prices, it pays to shop around.

Where Can I Find a Celebrant?

Our online funeral planner has a directory of funeral celebrants. Learn more our about our funeral planning tools. You can also look online or ask a local funeral director for a referral.

How Do I Choose a Funeral Celebrant?

Choosing a funeral celebrant is much like choosing any other professional. Each has his or her unique approach and style. Much of your decision will have to do with how compatible you think you are with the celebrant. There are questions you can ask and factors to consider that can help you narrow down your choices. Reputable celebrants are happy to answer questions and provide references. They want their clients to be fully informed and confident about their services.


There are several training and certification programs available for celebrants. Ask about the training your celebrant received and about his or her experience. The celebrant training institutes have websites that detail the approach they advocate. Reviewing the site of the institute where a celebrant was trained will provide additional insight into their philosophy and approach.


Engaging with a celebrant is much like any major purchase. You want to know what you are buying and how much it will cost. Request fees for all the services you will receive upfront and compare prices between celebrants in your area. Of course, the price isn’t the only factor you should consider when choosing a celebrant but it is an important consideration. Get the bottom line price in writing before you commit. You are entering into a contract so read the fine print before signing an agreement.


People have a variety of needs and desires when it comes to how they want to express religious views, if at all. Discuss your religious preferences with your celebrant to ensure that the ceremony reflects your wishes.


A critical aspect of a celebrant’s services is to spend “family time” upfront gathering information about the deceased. They will want to know as much as possible since the goal is to create a ceremony that truly reflects the individual. Take full advantage of this time, be open and sharing.


Once they have gathered information regarding the deceased, some celebrants prefer to work on their own and check-in periodically with their clients. Others prefer to work hand in hand with the family. Make sure the celebrant you choose works in a way that makes you are comfortable. There are many ways to plan a ceremony, and each celebrant develops his or her unique approach. Discuss the way they work to make sure you are comfortable with it. Be sure that you approve of every element of the ceremony.

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