What is a funeral celebrant?

What is a Funeral Celebrant?

Some of us like nothing more than getting up on a stage and showing off. Reading an eulogy at a funeral, however, can leave even the most confident person feeling nervous. Getting a funeral service right often involves a big emotional effort: from putting together the order of service to summing up an entire existence in under seven minutes, directing events alone can be a struggle. Often, we assume it’s only a priest or vicar who can help us run the show. Hiring a funeral celebrant is another option if you want help creating a memorable funeral.

What does a celebrant do?

A celebrant is someone who leads a funeral service. They can suggest hymns, songs, readings and even write the eulogy. Just like a priest, they can direct the service and bring the whole day together.

The types of celebrant


A priest or a vicar is a popular go-to choice of celebrant. They’ve got experience, and a lot of people find it comforting for a service to be put in their hands. But unless the priest knows you well, then it’s more or less the same script each time.


Civil celebrants are able to oversee a ceremony with no religious aspect at all. Alternatively, if you discuss with a civil celebrant the odd hymn or reading they can then mix and match your secular and spiritual tastes.


A Humanist celebrant will conduct a funeral according to Humanist values. This will often focus on the person who’s died with an emphasis on celebrating a life. Rest assured, a Humanist celebrant generally won’t go off on any spiritual tangents.

A friend of family member

It may be that someone close to the person who has died feels comfortable conducting the whole send off. You’ll get all those great, inside stories. Though, whether due to the hilarity of the stories or the emotional weight of the role, there’s no guarantee that the person could or should hold it all together.

What should I look for in a celebrant?

While there are many celebrants out there with official status, it’s not a requirement in the trade to have any formal license. It’s unlikely, but we wouldn’t want a funeral to be ruined by someone unprofessional, who fluffs up their lines or takes it upon themselves to use the microphone for a quick Elvis rendition. The important thing is to get a feel for the person. After all, this is the person who is going to see you through a tough day.

Take a look at The Celebrant Directory to find the type of celebrant you’re comfortable with. The directory has religious, secular and civil celebrants, all with different strengths and ideas.

By knowing that you don’t have to think through all the details of an order of service, or even the eulogy, funeral planning can begin to look a little less daunting. If you’re still confident about both your public speaking skills and funeral planning credentials, then take a look at our article on the ways you can arrange a funeral by yourself.

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