One of the things you won’t often hear when people talk about celebrant training, or indeed the life of a celebrant, is the most important part of all: this job involves a massive amount of responsibility. Now, it’s not like we’re brain surgeons and someone’s life is in our hands. However, their crossing of the threshold, during a rite of passage in their life, is a one-time moment. And that is where our responsibility, as the celebrant, rests. Their emotional and psychological well-being is in our hands.
Imagine a wedding couple: whether they’re having their ceremony on a budget or have paid upwards of £50 000.
The celebrant they’ve chosen for their ceremony:
- Doesn’t turn up (flat tyre, sleeps in, gets lost, stuck on the motorway, debilitated by personal problems)
- Double booked (this happens a lot! Myself and celebrant colleagues often have to ‘rescue’ couples who’ve been let down in this way)
- They’ve used AI to write the script and it lacks heart
- The celebrant has poor writing and oratory skills
- Forgets their script or ceremonial items
- Is ill on the day
- Hasn’t taken time to rehearse so is unfamiliar with the script
- Has poor diction
- Isn’t amplified and can’t be heard (or can be heard, but is projecting and their voice sounds unpleasant)
- Doesn’t make much eye contact (head down reading the script)
- Has a boring voice, upward inflections, harsh vocal ‘fry’
- Has annoying mannerisms
- Poor hygiene
- Bad breath (not nice to breathe last night’s garlic steak all over a wedding couple)
- Reeks of cigarette smoke or perfume
and so on.
All that time, preparation, hope and expense, and it’s let down by someone who has been poorly trained.
And what of someone’s funeral? Their friends and family have come to honour their life and passing, and the celebrant gets the name wrong. (There are so many stories from funeral directors, crem staff and families about how common this is!)
Or they’ve ‘cut and paste’ contents from other funerals so they’re saying what they always say. Maybe they’re the sort of celebrant who doesn’t share a script beforehand, and has key facts wrong. The family has no opportunity to correct the celebrant.
A celebrant officiating in a crematorium needs exceptional time management skills (and needs to know how to deal, calmly, with the unexpected). Running over your time slot means the Funeral Director will be fined.
Maybe the celebrant is someone who just treats the service like another job and there’s no heart or art to their celebrancy.
In our celebrant training, we are rigorous. Of course this can be uncomfortable! We fully understand that. Our job is to hold each student accountable so that they learn how to improve and to be 100% aware of the energy they’re bringing to clients. Those who’ve been certified recognise and respect that this is not just for their benefit but for every client they’ll ever serve. They’re grateful for this, too.
As celebrant trainers, we never want any of our students to feel disheartened or demoralised on their learning journey. We are here to support and champion them! That, however, includes being honest in our feedback. Our goal at all times is never to put someone down but to raise them up. To ensure they can become the BEST version of their celebrant self possible. It is always our pleasure to support our celebrants-in-training and our certified celebrants.
We recognise the huge responsibilities of being a celebrant (a gravity that somehow feels more weighty with each ceremony we do) and it is important to us that our students get a sense of this before they ever accept their first booking. The families we serve only get one chance at their ceremony. It has to be right. And that is why we, as celebrant trainers, make no apology for our high standards.
It is a privilege to be of service as a celebrant in our communities, and this is why our training courses are thorough and comprehensive, and certification is only bestowed upon those who we know will exemplify best-practice celebrancy.
Veronika Robinson and Paul Robinson are a husband and wife team whose boutique celebrant training Heart-led Celebrants attracts people from around the world. Heart-led Celebrants has earned a reputation for excellence in celebrant training, and those who are certified exemplify the highest standards in the industry.
Veronika is the author of many books including the popular Celebrant Collection: Write That Eulogy; The Successful Celebrant; Funeral Celebrant Ceremony Planner; Wedding Celebrant Ceremony Planner; The Blessingway. Three more titles will be added in January 2024: The Gentle Celebrant’s Guide: Funerals For Children; The Discrimination-free Celebrant; The Celebrant’s Guide to the Five Elements.
Award-winning voice artist, Paul Robinson, has had a whole career centred around his voice and other people’s. He’s highly experienced as a celebrant, trained actor, drama coach, voice-over artist, singer, broadcaster, compère, and ventriloquist. Paul is an excellent communicator and teacher, and has a sixth sense about how to relate to individuals, groups and audiences.