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  • Writer's pictureJoan Bogwill


A final gift one can give their loved one is a ceremony that truly honors and celebrates a person’s life. For many years, funerals were traditional, and the ceremony was led by either by a spiritual leader of the deceased or a celebrant was recommended by a funeral director.

As burial options evolve, so do ceremonies and the family’s involvement in the celebrant selection process. Choosing a celebrant is one of the most important decisions you will make to create a ceremony that reflects and celebrates your loved one.

But where do you begin?

Here are 3 Tips to find the right funeral celebrant:


Will the ceremony be religious, semi-religious, or secular? If wanting a religious ceremony, then it would be best to choose a spiritual leader that reflects the beliefs and values of the deceased. If a semi-religious, mixed faith, or secular ceremony is preferred, then a funeral celebrant is an excellent choice.

Funeral celebrants are professionals trained to design traditional or non-traditional ceremonies. They work closely with the family to learn about the deceased life, interests, loves, losses or anything else that authentically paints the loved one’s life and legacy. Celebrants have the creative freedom to personalize the ceremony by selecting music, readings, rituals, prayers, or other ceremony elements that reflect the loved one’s values and beliefs.

Recently, I designed and conducted a funeral ceremony that was live streamed worldwide with an emphasis on my client’s life story, the good times, the struggles, and his legacy. There were laughter and tears, sharing by family and friends, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen songs played, and keychains and my client’s favorite fruit were given as mementos. It was truly meaningful and memorable for the grieving family and friends.


The best option to find a celebrant is to ask family or friends for recommendations. Another option is to search for funeral celebrants in your area. Either way, check their website to learn about their ceremonies and to read reviews from previous clients. Leaders in certification programs and the industry provide a list of celebrants near you. Celebrant Foundation & Institute, Funeral Wise, the National Funeral Directors Associations (NFDA) , and Insight Books provide names of celebrants, the area they serve, and their contact information.

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others."


As in most professions, funeral celebrants vary in the planning and creating process. It is important to feel comfortable speaking with the celebrant and to feel confident that your loved one’s wish will be respected throughout the entire process.

Here are a few questions to ask celebrants as you search for the perfect fit:

  1. Is the celebrant available on the ceremony date?

  2. What is the celebrant's training?

  3. What is the celebrant's process in creating your loved one’s ceremony?

  4. What are some examples the celebrant has done to personalize a ceremony?

  5. How will the celebrant include your loved one’s faith? (If desired)

  6. How will the celebrant gather information about your loved one?

  7. Will I have final approval of the ceremony? (FYI--the answer should be yes.)

  8. What is the celebrant's fee? What is included?

While meeting with the celebrant, notice if they are a good listener. Does the celebrant seem to understand the type of ceremony you want, and will they work collaboratively with you to create the perfect ceremony for your loved one?

Everyone has a story to tell

So, whether you’re looking to have a funeral, celebration-of-life, or memorial ceremony for your loved one, be sure to keep these tips in mind to find the perfect fit for you!


My name is Joan Bogwill and I am a Life-Cycle celebrant trained at the Celebrant Foundation & Institute and I am certified in funeral and wedding ceremonies.

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