Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Mark Gregory
12:29 PM 28th August 2020

Reasons Why You Should Choose Your Own Funeral Celebrant

When a loved one passes away, it’s extremely tempting to contact your nearest funeral director and have them take charge of almost everything. Obituary notices, flowers, the funeral celebrant, the venue, care of the body, and burial or cremation arrangements. However, it can be far better to do some of these things yourself, and one of the ways you can ensure you give your loved one the send-off they deserve is to choose your own funeral celebrant to deliver the ceremony.

Here are just a few reasons why choosing your own celebrant is almost always the best way to go.

1. It’s Your Choice

This sounds obvious, but when you get a funeral director to organise everything for you, they will likely have a couple of celebrants – or perhaps even just one – that they work with on a regular basis. While it’s certainly very possible that the celebrant they recommend to you will produce a wonderful ceremony for you, it’s also very possible that they won’t. The reasons for this can vary.

Firstly, funeral directors have plenty of work to do whenever a person dies, and sometimes the last thing they want to do is sift through a load of celebrants and find the best one for you. For this reason, they stick to what they know – a celebrant who delivers reliable, decent-quality services week after week. This can mean that funeral directors don’t necessarily take the time to search for the best celebrant for you. That’s why you should choose your own funeral celebrant, and not just trust the funeral director.

Secondly, if funeral directors have been around for a long time, chances are the celebrants that they work with have too. There is, of course, nothing wrong with experience, but think about how you want to remember your loved one. You’re more likely to get a unique and uplifting ceremony full of positive energy from a celebrant who doesn’t necessarily know where his next hundred funerals are going to come from.

You can choose a celebrant to be suited and booted, or someone who is suited to a more casual, informal service.

By selecting your own celebrant, you can hand-pick all the qualities you want in the person who will be leading the ceremony for your loved one. Whether you want someone with a bit of vivacity to breathe life into an energetic life story, or simply someone who looks the part and will deliver everything in a sombre manner that you’d like, taking the choice into your own hands gives you the opportunity to make that call.

2. Flexibility

One of the key reasons the celebrant industry exists is because people had become frustrated with the lack of flexibility available in religious weddings and funerals. Celebrants emerged as an alternative option in a ever more secular society because they’re not tied to any sort of doctrine, service structure, or wording.

In a celebrant-led funeral, there are no rules. Yes, celebrants generally work with a vague ceremony structure – an anatomy, of sorts – but there is plenty of room for flexibility in several different ways: music for the processional, reflection, and recessional can be literally anything you want; the poems and readings can be drawn from a rich variety of sources, both religious and non-religious; and you can have as many or as few speakers taking part as you like.

Celebrants can offer funerals anywhere at any time; all you need to do is ask.

The other key issues in terms of flexibility with a celebrant is the venue. Most celebrants these days can take a ceremony in any type of venue: you have the classic crematoriums and burial grounds – check out our article about natural burial grounds if you have the chance – but you can also have the ceremony in a hotel, a forest, a moorside, or even your back garden. All you need to do is choose your own funeral celebrant, and ask.

3. Value For Money

The third reason why you should try and do as much as you can yourself ahead of a funeral – including to choose your own funeral celebrant – is because it will save you money. Funeral directors will obviously take something off the top; otherwise, how do you expect them to make money? But this essentially means that you can and will save money if you do some things yourself.

One of the most realistic ways that you can save money is by finding and contacting the celebrant you want directly. Celebrants generally charge the same flat fee for most funerals – something close to £200 – which means that if you go straight to them, you’ll pay exactly what they charge. If, however, you go through the funeral director, you’ll likely pay something on top of the celebrant’s fee, which will go to the FD. It’s nothing malicious; it’s simply business.

Some coffin producers will let you buy from them directly; this can be a way to save money on funeral costs.

There are other ways to save money before a funeral, which essentially consist of doing things that the funeral director would otherwise do. This can include purchasing a coffin directly from a manufacturer, organising the flowers for the coffin and the venue yourself, and even by caring for the body yourself – something which needs more than just emotional stability. For more information, The Good Funeral Guide is an excellent read.

4. Training and Qualifications

Believe it or not, there are no qualifications necessary to be a funeral director or, indeed, a funeral celebrant. It is very possible for someone to decide they want to do be a celebrant and deliver a funeral the next day. While the right kind of person may be able to do this without any issues, it’s generally better to find a celebrant who has trained with an organisation that not only trains celebrants but also continues to offer them support as they develop their career.

There are several such organisations – a quick Google search will tell you if they’re genuine or not – but the best tend to be the likes of the UK Society of Celebrants, which was the first to offer training to celebrants and continues to train the highest number of celebrants per year in the UK. If you do decide to choose your own funeral celebrant, by checking their qualifications, you’ll be able to make sure the one you pick has the necessary skill set to cater to your needs.

Mark is a funeral celebrant and can be contacted through his website at