How can you Trust a Celebrant?

Sep 2, 2019
pagan handfasting at civil wedding

When I was training to become a civil celebrant, my group was asked why we had chosen this career path. I vividly remember one lady’s reason. When her father died, the family engaged a celebrant. He was so awful that she determined to study and strive for excellence in order to improve other families’ chances of hiring a decent celebrant.

I have heard one or two (but not many!) tales of incompetent celebrants, so I do believe that there are some out there. I did attend a funeral where the rabbi (just excusable, I think, because he is dyspraxic) regularly referred to the deceased by entirely the wrong name. Nonetheless, not good.

The problem

The fact remains that the training of celebrants is unregulated. You can obtain an NVQ nowadays (it didn’t exist when I trained), but many celebrants are trained by other celebrants. Standards, in truth, can vary.

Alternatively, but they are not cheap, Associations offer training, which does tend to be thorough and practical. The point is, though, that anybody can set themselves up as a celebrant.

So what can you do to ensure that, when you want a celebrant, you get a decent, professional one?

Funeral Celebrant

When it comes to funerals, most people go to a Funeral Director (FD). The FD will usually offer a full religious service (the Church) or secular (either Humanist or Civil Celebrant). They will normally have a panel of officiants and recommend somebody. You meet the officiant and decide whether or not to work with them.

Sometimes people choose a celebrant via the website. I myself have a funeral website, but I hardly do anything with it. In truth, it’s mainly for a desperate FD, who is looking for a last-minute replacement celebrant. I have also been found that way, though, by a member of the public.

Wedding Celebrant

A wedding celebrant is harder to choose bcause it’s largely down to you. As ever, it pays to do some research.

Ideally, you will have seen a celebrant in action and liked what they do. Or you know somebody who has seen them at work.

Failing that, you will probably find them from their website (looking at page 1 or 2 of Google). If you’re impressed (and testimonials are often worth studying, as are blogs), you should arrange to meet with or, at least, speak with them. Make appointments with two or three. Come prepared with questions, and you can compare your impressions of them afterwards.

What to look out for

Were they friendly? Could they answer your questions satisfactorily? Were they professional and reliable? Do they seem willing actually to listen to your ideas and input? Were they articulate? How about their presentation skills? Are they experienced? And, crucially, are they someone you would like to have beside you on the biggest day of your life?

Your budget needs to be respected, of course, but price should only come into it, after the above questions have been settled.

I may be a tad biased, but I’d be happy to help, if you wanted to discuss this further!