What is a Celebrant?

A look at what a funeral celebrant does and who can conduct a funeral service

Last updated: 16 March 2017

A funeral celebrant is someone who leads the funeral service. They will stand at the front of the service, address the congregation, and sometimes lead them in prayer or give a eulogy, depending on the family’s wishes. Celebrants may also lead other ceremonies such as weddings and christenings.

Types of funeral celebrant

When choosing a celebrant for your loved one’s funeral, you may want to consider your loved one’s religious beliefs, as funeral celebrants may or may not belong to a particular religion or belief system.

Generally, professional celebrants may be one of the following:

  • A religious leader. If your loved one was religious, you may want to contact your local place of worship to conduct the funeral. Normally a religious leader will act as the funeral celebrant.
  • A civil celebrant. Civil celebrants do not belong any religion and can perform services with no religious content at all, or with some religious content such as prayers and readings.
  • A Humanist celebrant. Humanist funerals are entirely non-religious and focus on the life of the person who has died, rather than an afterlife or god. The British Humanist Association can help you find a Humanist celebrant.
  • A friend or family member. An alternative to hiring a funeral celebrant is letting a friend or family member lead the service. This may, however, be a challenge for those who are not used to public speaking and requires some organisation.

What does a funeral celebrant do?

Once you hire a celebrant, they will usually meet with you and members of the family to discuss the service. Whereas a funeral director will discuss arrangements for all elements of the funeral, the celebrant will be focused on the service and how to use that time to pay tribute to your loved one.

They will normally ask you questions about your loved one in order to get a sense of who they were and what they meant to you. They may use this information to give a eulogy during the service. They will also ask if anyone else is planning on giving a eulogy or a reading, and what songs and hymns will be played.

Their aim is to lead a funeral service that truly reflects what you and your loved one would want. If there’s anything you particularly want them to mention, or want them to avoid mentioning, feel free to let them know.

Don’t worry about being upset or crying during the discussion. They understand that this is a difficult conversation to have.

On the day of the funeral, they will most typically meet you at the venue where the funeral is taking place. If you are giving a eulogy or reading, they may remind you of when you are speaking, and will invite you to come to the front of the congregation when it is time.

Funeral celebrant fees

Most funeral celebrants require you to pay a fee for their services. These fees can vary between different organisations and individual celebrants, but may cost a few hundred pounds.

You should discuss celebrant fees with your funeral director. They should be able to contact a suitable celebrant on your behalf or recommend ideal local celebrants.

You should be aware that there is no legal requirement for funeral celebrants to be licensed in the UK. However, some celebrants will have accreditation through a reputable organisation to ensure you receive a quality service.