What Do Officiants Wear At A Funeral? 

Funerals are beginning to evolve and modernise in the UK, but it is an extremely slow process, and most funerals are still steeped in tradition. Funeral services are usually officiated by a professional such as a religious minister or civil officiant such as a celebrant or humanist. However, there is no legal requirement for this, and the officiant may be a family member or friend of the deceased. With such a large range of people from different backgrounds, we thought we would look at what officiants wear at a funeral, and how modernisation is impacting this. 

What Professional Officiants Wear

There are several categories of professional officiant, and they all play an equally important role in the funeral industry. Which type of officiant you choose for your own or your loved one’s funeral would be dictated by the type of service required. If you are planning a funeral, you may want to consider the following types of officiants:

  • Religious minister or leader
  • Civil celebrant
  • Humanist celebrant
  • Family member or friend

In the past, the dress code of the officiant at the funeral has likely been dictated by their role. We will consider each in turn. 

Religious Leader Dress

Religion is steeped in tradition, and no matter whether the funeral is Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or any other religion the entire service is likely to follow an outline that is pre-determined. Of course, there will be elements unique to the individual that died, however, a religious service is usually less open to freedom of interpretation. Likewise, the dress code of the religious leader will usually be determined by tradition. Most religious ministers have robes that they wear for services, and it is likely that ministerial robes would be worn when performing a funeral service. 

Civil Celebrant Dress Code

A civil celebrant, officiates at a vast range of funerals and can incorporate a little religion such as hymns or readings depending on the requirements of each individual family, they are not adequately prepared to deliver a full religious service. There is no uniform for this role however, most funeral celebrants wear smart attire. Male celebrants would usually officiate wearing a suit and tie, for females’ smart attire is more open to interpretation and is often reflective of the season and personal choice.

Other Officiant Attire

A humanist funeral service is always non-religious. In terms of dress-code for a humanist officiant, the situation is like that of a civil celebrant. There is no uniform, and most opt for a smart dress code. If a family member or friend is performing the funeral service, again they may dress as they wish. We have previously looked at dress code for funerals, and most officiants no matter their background, unless asked otherwise, would wear dark, smart clothing. 

Modernising Funeral Officiant Attire

Over recent years, the funeral industry has begun to evolve and modernise at a faster pace. This includes an increase in the number of people opting for a Celebration of Life as opposed to a traditional service. One of the major elements that people opt to change at a celebration of life is to ask guests to wear bright colours as opposed to the standard black, navy, and grey. 

Obviously, there isn’t a vast array of research on what officiants wear to a funeral, we are therefore, basing our assumptions on Steve, his industry knowledge and personal experiences. He does opt to wear a suit and tie with a waistcoat for most funeral services. Steve has a tie in every imaginable colour and aims to match his choice with any theme where possible, and he always wears his dragonfly lapel logo, which was especially crafted in Gold and silver by a jeweller.

However, he is increasingly seeing a desire to do away with traditional dress and has been asked to officiate wearing different attire on numerous occasions. Steve is frequently asked to wear football shirts and has at times wore jeans and a leather jacket. On occasion, he has been asked to wear his degree gown, and with his ministerial background he is also happy to wear his academic gown if requested to do so. 

Steve, however, does state that he is there to officiate at a funeral service. His dress code needs to be dignified and respectful. Any requests that veer away from this, such as one to wear a wresting suit, are politely declined. It is likely, that Steve and other celebrants will continue to wear smart attire to officiate at funerals for the foreseeable future.  If you would like to discuss your own funeral or that of a loved one with Steve, he can be contacted here.

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