‘What is a Celebrant, exactly?’ The question I am most often asked when I meet people and tell them what I do. Many people have never heard of a Celebrant or have a limited understanding of what we do. I’m always happy to tell them; I love being an Independent Celebrant. Like many of us, I feel I have found a calling; work that I am meant to do. It feels like all the experience I have had up to this point, has prepared me to be a Celebrant.
I carried out my first ‘duties’ as a Celebrant almost 12 years ago. My beloved father-in-law, who had been more of a dad to me than anyone else in my life, died. My mother-in-law asked me to take the service at the crematorium. With just three days to prepare and having never attended a non-faith-based funeral, let alone a cremation, I had to put something together. Add to the dynamic, a previous family who had never forgiven him for his second family and you begin to form a picture of the challenge I was facing.
The strange thing was I knew that day, as soon as the ceremony ended, that I had found a new path.
I chose to be an Independent Celebrant so that I could work with people who wanted spiritual, mixed-faith and non-religious ceremonies. It felt important to offer an authentic choice to the complex relationships we have with faith, religion and also nature. I was raised in a Jewish family, adopted from parents who were Jewish and also Christian. I consider myself very spiritual and have been travelling a druidic path for the past few years. Being in a position to create ceremonies that allow individuals to express what matters to them on a spiritual level, feels like a very special role.
What do I do in my role as an Independent Funeral Celebrant?
- I write and deliver Life Celebration ceremonies. These services are an alternative way to mark the death of a loved-one. Rather than a traditional time-limited service, we can create something completely unique to honour and celebrate the life of the person you have lost. I have included tree planting, songs round a camp fire, night-time star gazing and traditional tribal chanting in ceremonies.
- I write and deliver more traditional crematorium ceremonies, for mixed-faith, spiritual and non-religious families. Being able to have a ceremony at a local crematorium is important for members of rural communities. This is where the support of their neighbours often gets them through a challenging time. However, they may wish not to have a faith-based service, or to include more spiritual elements. As an Independent Celebrant, I can create a service that includes and honours all of these wishes, whilst still making the ceremony feel accessible to your community.
- I help families find alternatives, from options on where they want their remains to rest (which can include being launched into space, or planted beneath a tree) to choices on direct cremation or memorial services. There is so little information given to us about what can happen when we die. This needs to change, as finding out about our options when we are grieving, is often too late.
What do I do in my role as an Independent Wedding Celebrant?
- I write and deliver wedding ceremonies that reflect your uniqueness. At the time of writing, Celebrants are not able to perform legally binding marriages in the UK. An Independent Celebrant can, however, create a wedding that is more personal, individual and authentic than a Registrar, so we are in high demand.
- I get to know my couples, over the months before their big day, and together we create their bespoke day. From writing their vows to choosing the right readings, we do all of this together. We include all elements of their faith, spirituality or family traditions that they want. I get to know everyone involved in the event, making sure they are confident and comfortable with their role.
- I help couples mark key anniversaries. Whether we write a vow renewal or create a starlight relationship blessing, marking their key moments and the passage of their lives together is always such a joy. One of my favourites, is when a couple asks me to help them mark coming through a serious illness or similar challenge. Acknowledging what they have come through, together, and how it has strengthened their relationship, is a wonderful thing to celebrate.
And as a Family’s Celebrant, I am also asked to help mark other significant moments and events, including:
- Naming ceremonies – for adoptions or for when two families become one.
- House moving celebrations – to welcome the family to a new home.
- Engagement ceremonies
- Graduation ceremonies
- Recovery celebrations
- LGBTQ+ celebrations
- Spiritual and seasonal celebrations
- Pet and animal companion ceremonies and funerals
- Nature-based blessings and ceremonies
- Significant birthday and birth-day (for the parents) celebrations
You can Ask a Celebrant your questions – we’d love to hear from you
In January 2022, my dear friend and fellow Independent Celebrant, Berni B and I are launching our new Podcast – ‘Ask a Celebrant’. Each month, we’ll be answering questions from clients and friends on the role and duties of an Independent Celebrant. We’ll cover everything you ask us, from planning a funeral with a difference to how to organise a non-wedding (one of Berni’s unique offerings). You can find the Podcast here.
From my heart to yours,