A celebrant is a person who performs formal ceremonies, namely handfastings/weddings & funeral ceremonies, but also including; renewal-of-vows ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies, graduation, anniversaries, ‘rites of passage’, & boat naming ceremonies etc., where people wish to add a ‘deeply personal & spiritual’ aspect & formality to their proceedings, in a non-religious way.
Australia was the first country in the world (since the 1970’s) to appoint non-clergy affiliated marriage celebrants for people who did not want to be married in a formal religious setting, & also for non-religious people that did not wish to be married inside a church etc., or wanted more control over the content & timeline of their wedding ceremony.
People from all walks of life who choose to become a celebrant are all motivated by a strong desire to be of service & help others. Anyone can choose to become a certified celebrant, including funeral directors, grief counsellors, hospice personnel, social workers, healthcare professionals, & even members of the clergy. The reasons vary but, generally, anyone who feels the calling to assist others mark & celebrate the important moments of life might decide to become a certified celebrant.
To those who practice & follow a path in Druidry, being of service is usually very high on their ‘being spiritual’ list. They find that it is a great way of ‘walking their talk’, for it is our actions that speak the loudest, the perfect way to express your love for Nature, your compassion for humanity & all sentient beings. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to recognise those significant others in the lives of their community. That might mean honouring our parents, guardians, family & friends for the upbringing & support they provided, or maybe acknowledging those who are unable to be part of the special event, & through organising ancestral ceremonies. OBOD offers both a Celebrant & Funeral Celebrant course for those who may feel drawn to this type of service.
Ceremonies should include & recognise the importance of the principles & their guests, how they represent the network of support & influence which surrounds the principles’ of the event, & how meaning is added to the ceremony through the presence of the invited guests.
In modern-day celebrancy, a celebrant is more likely to be a trained & qualified professional who helps with the planning & design of a ceremony, & then dictates the timing & delivery of the ceremony, liaising with clients & other service providers to deliver a service that aligns with the clients’ wishes. Whether it’s a mixed or same sex wedding, a funeral or another special ceremony, a reliable & experienced celebrant will help to steer you through your unique event.
The role of a celebrant is much more than formalising a ceremony. A great celebrant will ensure that each ceremony is special; they will ensure that it is a memorable event for all the guests as well. A celebrant will be able to tell your story, involve your key guests & make it a moving experience for you, the entire family & friends.
To be legally valid, a UK marriage ceremony must be performed by an authorised person (for example, a registrar, a vicar or a priest) & be witnessed by two people. This means couples used to have to choose between: an approved religious ceremony, a registry office ceremony, or a registrar who will attend the wedding at a licensed venue.
But now-a-days, using a Wedding Celebrant allows you all the flexibility you wish for…especially for those interested in the ‘pagan revival’ or with alternative spiritual beliefs, to have a non-religious wedding. You will be able to have your wedding wherever you choose, at any time, & it’ll be entirely up to you how the whole occasion flows & reflects your personal beliefs & lifestyle. You will choose your own vows, readings, poems, music, decor & anything else you fancy, without restriction.
*In England, Scotland & Wales you must be legally married first at the registry office (it takes less than 10 minutes & costs around £100 in total. Many couples do this in jeans & t-shirts & they save the dressing up for the wedding ceremony), & then you are free to design the wedding ceremony of your dreams.
A Funeral Celebrant
A funeral celebrant is a qualified individual who works with a family to craft & conduct a ceremony befitting, & tailored to, the beliefs, values & desires of a deceased individual & their immediate family members. To help families give the person who has died a good send-off, one that honours, gives thanks for, &, even, celebrates a life.
Some Celebrants are introduced to families by a Funeral Director, others are approached directly. Either way, all will work closely with the family & the funeral director to ensure everything goes to plan.
Right or wrong, people can perceive the service arranged by a funeral director or clergy member as religious &/or somewhat standardized or "cookie cutter" in nature, & therefore not reflective of the unique individual it is intended to honour. In addition, a growing percentage of the population defines itself as non-religious, & therefore does not wish to involve at the end of life those associated with an organised religion, such as ministers, priests, rabbis, etc.
The celebrant movement is not exclusively secular, as noted above, & the services created & conducted by certified funeral celebrants are designed to be spiritual in nature, a ‘unique’ event that truly encompasses the beliefs of the deceased & their family & friends.