How is a celebrant different to a funeral director?

Celebrant or Funeral Director

Arranging a funeral isn’t a frequent task for most people, and as such the roles of the key people involved may be not clear. Unless your loved one has pre-organised their funeral and named the people involved it can be a quite a daunting task. Funeral homes are located within most communities, with a choice of larger chain or independent and these would be recognisable to many people, but what is a funeral director and what do they do? What is a celebrant and how are they different? Do you need both?

What is a Celebrant

A Celebrant is an alternative to a minister of religion. If you are religious, you may be planning a funeral service based on the traditions of your faith and the content of the service will likely be organised with and delivered by the minster of your faith. If however, you are not affiliated with any particular religion you may be wondering who will take the funeral service of your loved one. 

Celebrant Steve

There are no legal requirements to have a qualified officiant at a funeral service, and a family member or friend could perform the service if that was the wish of the person that has died. This is however a daunting task, and most people choose a professional officiant such as a celebrant or humanist to perform the funeral service. 

A celebrant can include elements of religion within the service, as well including modern celebration of life features. Celebrant Steve has a background as a religious minister and performs ceremonies with and without religious content depending on the wishes of the person that has died and their family. You can find out more about Steve here

Role of a Celebrant 

A celebrant officiates at the funeral service, but their role goes far beyond this. When a person dies, particularly if it is sudden and no clear guidance has been left about the content of a funeral it is the role of the celebrant to help guide the family. As a celebrant, Steve will meet with family and friends, taking the time to find out about the person that has died, he allows time for thoughts to be processed, stories to be told, memories to be shared, this information is then translated into a completely bespoke funeral service, that may also include a photographic or video tribute. 

Man with male counsellor

A funeral service is a defining moment for family and friends. A well conducted, fitting service can provide a sense of closure and a feeling that justice has been done to the memory of the person that has died. It is the role of the celebrant to guide the conversation to gather information in a sensitive manner, and relay that in a service that perfectly encapsulates the uniqueness of the person that has died. 

In addition to creating and delivering the funeral service a celebrant can offer support and guidance during what is likely a difficult time. Celebrants are usually knowledgeable about local grief counselling services, they will liaise with your funeral director and help with the content for funeral stationary such as the order of service, and they can also help with recommending local businesses for other elements of the funeral such as florists. Click on the link to find out more about the role of a celebrant.

What is a Funeral Director?

Where the role of a celebrant is primarily concerned with the content of the service and ensuring that it is a fitting tribute to the person that has died, the role of a funeral director is more logistical. The role of a funeral director always includes the following:

Ben Simpson and Dan Wilde
  • Transporting the body of the person that has died
  • Preparing the body
  • Booking venues for the service
  • Organising the cremation or burial 
  • Providing funeral cars for family and friends
  • Ordering a coffin
  • Providing pallbearers 
  • Completing the necessary legal paperwork 

In addition to these tasks most funeral directors offer a wealth of additional services to help streamline the process of arranging a funeral. This is helpful for families when also coping with grief, and where there is not a detailed funeral plan in place, and can include things such as:

  • Booking a celebrant or minister 
  • Organising funeral flowers
  • Ordering stationary
  • Providing a venue for a wake and catering
  • Ordering a gravestone or other memorials

Celebrants work closely with funeral directors to ensure that every service is perfect. Steve works with many local funeral directors, some of which feature in other blogs.

Do you need both?

As previously mentioned, there are no legal requirements in terms of using either a celebrant or a funeral director when a person dies. However, there are legal obligations as well as logistical considerations that would likely be beyond the reach of most people without the support of a funeral director. It is very likely that you will use the services of a funeral director when organising a funeral. However, a celebrant is more of a choice. 

Whether or not you choose to use a celebrant will be dependent on the type of service that you require. If a fully religious service is required you are unlikely to use a celebrant, however, a partial or non-religious service in the chapel of a local crematorium or burial ground is suited to the use of a celebrant. If you are based in Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, and surrounding areas you can either ask your funeral director to contact Steve or contact him yourself if you are considering using a celebrant to officiate at the funeral you are organising. 

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