A funeral celebrant, otherwise known as a funeral officiant, can help to support you through a funeral by leading the service.

If you would like immediate support with your funeral arrangements our compassionate team can help.

What is a funeral celebrant?

The traditional role of a funeral celebrant is to lead the funeral service. This can involve giving the eulogy, presiding over the order of service, inviting friends and family members up for readings or leading the attendees in a period of quiet reflection.

As well as leading the service itself, a funeral celebrant can help plan a funeral service. Funeral celebrants can provide valuable guidance before the funeral about the structure, timings and contents of the service. Choosing the right celebrant can help to ease the stress of planning.

The term funeral celebrant is usually used in funerals not affiliated with religion although each religion has an equivalent religious leader to oversee the service.

What does a celebrant do at a funeral?

How involved your funeral celebrant is in the funeral planning and the funeral service itself depends on your preferences and budget. Ideally, your celebrant will take the time to understand your family and the type of funeral you would like to have for your loved one.

These are some of the services typically offered by a funeral celebrant.

Lead the funeral service

Funeral Celebrant Smiling At Camera In Chapel

Conducting the service on the day of the funeral is a funeral celebrant's key role. Your celebrant will carry out the service according to your wishes and you and your family can be as involved as much as you would like to be.

Meet with you in advance

Three Older People Talking In Living Room

Many funeral celebrants will offer a face-to-face or online meeting at a time and place to suit you ahead of the funeral. Doing so allows them to get to know about your loved one and gives you the opportunity to ask questions.

Share ideas and advice

Celebrant Completing Paperwork With Bereaved Lady

Funeral celebrants will have experience with lots of different funerals. They can offer suggestions for popular or less commonly used poems and readings as well as giving you ideas for other ways to personalise the funeral service.

Help with order of service

Man Taking A Book Off A Bookshelf

Funeral celebrants will be familiar with the conventional timings and contents of funeral services. Your celebrant may have an order of service template you can follow or you can work together to create a unique funeral order of service to reflect your loved one.

Help with the eulogy

Papers On Dining Table

Also sometimes referred to as a tribute, a eulogy about the person who has died is traditionally read at their funeral service. If you're not sure where to start, your celebrant can often offer advice about writing a eulogy based on their past experience.

Read the eulogy

Funeral Celebrant With Folder In Chapel

You may wish to read the eulogy yourself or have someone who was close to your loved one read it. However, if there is no one attending the funeral who feels comfortable or emotionally ready to read the eulogy, a funeral celebrant can take on this role for you.

Different types of funeral celebrants

The religious beliefs of the person who has died or the person arranging the funeral will influence which type of funeral celebrant, officiant or minister oversees the burial or cremation funeral.

Religious funeral

Each religion has a different officiant to conduct the funeral service.

  • Depending on religious belief a vicar, Catholic or Hindu priest, Muslim imam, Jewish rabbi, Buddist monk or Sikh granthi will lead the service.
  • If you are a regular churchgoer, you may already have a local religious leader in mind.

Non-religious funeral

Within non religious funerals there are also two different types of celebrants. Humanist and civil celebrants are both unaffiliated with any religion.

  • Humanist funerals typically don’t include any religious elements.
  • Civil celebrants may be happy to leave space in the service for prayer or to incorporate traditional hymns and readings with religious connotations.

Funeral Celebrant Dressed In Black With Book

How much does a celebrant cost for a funeral?

The amount you can expect to pay for a funeral celebrant or officiant varies. Factors that can affect the cost include the region you live in, the level of involvement you’d like the person leading the service to have and the religion of the service.

Here are the typical average funeral celebrant costs and costs for other religious leaders.

Type of officiant Average cost
Humanist celebrant £180 – £300[1]
Church of England vicar £227 - £472[2]
Muslim imam £0 -£150[3]
Jewish rabbi Around £200[4]

In some faiths, the religious leader conducting the funeral ceremony may not charge a fee directly. Instead, fees or donations will commonly be requested to support the place of worship. These include donations to the Church of Scotland, Sikh gurdwara and Buddhist temples. Hindu priest’s fees vary and aspects of the funeral ceremony may be led instead by the eldest son of the deceased.

[1] Guide costs for humanist funeral celebrants, Humanists UK

[2] Fee for conducting a Church of England funeral service from 1st January 2023, Church of England

[3] Estimated costs for imam's services and Islamic funeral prayer, Your Funeral Choice

[4] Approximate rabbi costs for shivah services, Liberal Judaism

How to find a funeral celebrant

You no doubt want to find a funeral celebrant who makes you feel comfortable and supported and whose style fits in with your wishes for the funeral service.

There are three main ways to find a funeral celebrant.

Existing relationships

Celebrant Showing Lady Paperwork

You may already have a friend who is a funeral celebrant or you’ve attended a funeral in the past where you appreciated the celebrant’s style of delivery. Asking friends and family for celebrant recommendations helps you to keep the funeral personal and choose a celebrant who will suit you.

Do some research

Lady Working On Laptop In Garden

You can have a look for a funeral celebrant online. There are several celebrant directories including Celebrant Directory, Funeral Celebrants, Humanists UK, UK Society of Celebrants, UK Celebrants and Independent Celebrants. You can also have a look in local magazines and directories.

Ask your funeral provider

Distinct cremations UK call centre

Your funeral director or funeral provider will most likely have celebrants that they can point you towards. Some funeral providers may work with specific funeral celebrants and include the celebrant’s fees in their prices so it’s worth asking what’s included if you know you’d like a celebrant led funeral.

Questions to ask a celebrant

To help you choose your celebrant and be fully informed about what they offer, there are three key questions you can ask before making your decision.

  1. What experience do they have?
    Ask about the celebrant’s qualifications and whether they have testimonials from past funerals they have officiated. Comments from other families can help you to get an idea of the kind of service to expect.
  2. Where and when can they meet you?
    Your celebrant should work with you to find a convenient time and place to meet and discuss your requirements. This could be in your own home, at another location that’s convenient for you or even online.
  3. What do they include in their costs?
    Check whether travel is included and the length of service the celebrant offers. If you would like help with writing the eulogy and creating the order of service, speak to the celebrant to make sure they can facilitate this.

Sandra Pollitt

Crematorium Officer, Borders Crematorium

“Some families we support at Borders Crematorium choose to manage every aspect of the funeral arrangements to feel close to their lost loved one and maintain a sense of control during a turbulent time. However, there are others who find arranging a funeral extremely difficult emotionally.

“For those who appreciate that bit of extra support, a celebrant can be an invaluable source of comfort. Having a familiar face who you’ve met before the service to discuss your loved one and their funeral wishes can help you to feel reassured that the arrangements will run smoothly.”

Do you have to have a funeral celebrant?

Whilst a funeral celebrant can be an important pillar of support for some people, others prefer to have a small intimate funeral with just those who knew the deceased in attendance.

There is no legal requirement to have a celebrant so it’s completely possible to have a family-led funeral instead or forego a traditional funeral altogether.

Arrange a funeral

Sue arrange flip

Our cremation services include either a 10 minute service for 8 attendees or a 20 minute service for 20 attendees.

This service is led by the family instead of a funeral celebrant and can include music, readings, a eulogy and time to sit in quiet reflection.

Arrange a funeral

Unattended funeral

direct cremation

Not only do you not have to have a funeral celebrant, you don’t have to have a funeral at all.

A direct cremation is a respectful cremation without attendees, popular with those who don't want a fuss or would prefer a more unique memorial.

View our direct cremation services

Planning ahead of time

Woman Buying Funeral Plan On Computer

If you don't want a celebrant-led funeral, you can choose your funeral in advance with a prepaid funeral plan.

Having a funeral plan brings you peace of mind about your own funeral. You can set one up for someone else if you're responsible for their arrangements too.

Get your FREE funeral plan guide

What to tell your funeral celebrant about the person who has died

Tell your funeral celebrant about your loved one so they can make the service as personal as possible. Before speaking to the celebrant you may like to speak with other people close to your loved one so they can share their memories and experiences too.

Some aspects of your loved one’s life you might like to discuss are their:

  • Career and other achievements outside of work
  • Close friends and family
  • Hobbies and passions
  • Pets
  • Personality traits

You can also share your loved one's funeral wishes and whether they wanted an extravagant burial or low cost cremation. Older Couple Looking Out Over Ocean

Other useful resources

Once you have chosen your funeral celebrant, you may also like to consider other aspects of the funeral service as well.

If a loved one has died and you need to arrange a funeral straightaway, call our experienced and compassionate team on 01543 212000.

Choosing a coffin

Mourner Touching Wooden Coffin

Coffin styles and prices vary depending on how elaborate you would like your loved one's coffin to be. See the options available and the average costs you can expect to pay.

Types of coffins

Choosing a funeral urn

Man Passing Funeral Urn With Ashes To Woman

The type of funeral urn you choose depends on what you would like to do with your loved one's ashes. Different urns are suited for burying, scattering and keeping the ashes.

Funeral urns

Write an obituary

Hand Holding Pencil To Write Obituary

As well as organising the funeral service, you may also like to pay tribute to your loved one and their achievements by writing and publishing an obituary online or in a newspaper.

How to write an obituary

We offer the highest level of support, but don't take our word for it

Below are a selection of reviews from those who followed their instinct with Distinct and chose to buy a funeral with us.

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Mark 21 May 2024
Excellent communication, very helpful and we got just what we wanted in a service. Highly recommended and we will use again. Mark Oliver
Anon 2 May 2024
Service very efficient, and comprehensive. Understandably, you "chased me up" when there was a delay in my response to place an order, but this delay was whilst I contacted all those relatives who might have had a view to express.
Anon 24 Apr 2024
I was very happy with the service I received and they are only a phone call away if I or my sons should need advice or help in any way
Wendy 8 Apr 2024
This is a good company, the cremation was dealt with very smoothly without any problems. The staff were very courteous and professional throughout. Everything was explained over the phone and they were very patient answering my questions. The ashes were delivered on time to my door. Highly recommended.
Anon 7 Apr 2024
They gave a superb service, they were very professional from start to finish, but also friendly and empathetic too, at what was a very difficult time for myself and the family
Anon 6 Apr 2024
Dee was lovely and understanding and advice was easy to understand
Anon 5 Apr 2024
Very kind and helpful lady. She talked me through everything that I asked her about.
Anon 1 Apr 2024
From the very first phone call I felt things were going to be handled well. Kindness compassion and helpful ness were shown throughout. I was kept informed about all the details and the person delivering the ashes was so respectful and kind taking the time to ask about my husbands life. This is who will handle my cremation.
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