The dictionary definition of a celebrant is: ‘a person who performs a rite’. This has traditionally meant a vicar, minister or priest, with the ceremony taking place in a church or other religious building. These days, we have more choices and the importance of selecting the right celebrant for your loved one’s celebration of life cannot be underestimated.

The celebrant is there to hold the ceremony together and make sure it runs smoothly. They set the tone, cue the music and introduce the speakers. It is preferable to have someone who is not emotionally attached to the deceased, can speak well and will also deal with any unexpected occurrences. At a crematorium, the celebrant also has to make sure the ceremony keeps to time.

This is the one occasion when your loved one’s life story is to be told, their memories are honoured and their body is put to rest. The celebrant will meet the family in advance and – through sensitive questioning and careful listening – enable them to have their stories and feelings shared, before writing the ceremony and reading it on the day. The family should choose someone they feel comfortable with.

To find a celebrant, recommendations from friends are helpful and online research is worth doing – always check the celebrant’s testimonials. It is entirely your choice who leads the ceremony and, even though the funeral director may recommend a celebrant, check they are experienced, fully trained and aligned to your values and beliefs. Bear in mind that celebrants work with the funeral directors and are not employed by them.

Celebrant fees will be listed under ‘prices on request’ on the funeral director’s website. This means that celebrants can continue to offer a completely personalised service at a cost that is appropriate to their creativity, experience and local economic market.