Celebrant Training UK: On the Sofa

Veronika Robinson has been officiating ceremonies, across all rites of passage, for 27 years. Alongside her husband Paul, she’s co-founder and co-tutor at Heart-led Celebrants, a boutique celebrant-training school based in Cumbria, England. Their students come from around the world for training.

Veronika is also editor of The Celebrant magazine, an international publication for celebrants at all stages of their career.

The velvet purple sofa called to me! Not only was it in my favourite colour and a sensual fabric, but I loved the wave-effect design. This, I realised, would be perfect for celebrant training. (I also chose the cuddle sofa in the same colour and fabric so my students and I would each have a sofa to sit on.) Throw in a crackling fire, some comfy throws and cushions, and we’re all set for long days of training.


There are several reasons why our celebrant-training courses are different to others in this country. One of them is that we train on a one-to-one basis to ensure optimal learning. I sometimes hear people say that they prefer learning in groups. While I agree that this does have advantages, I’ve also seen how it can lead to comparisons with other people on a course. What we (Paul and I) always seek to do is honour a person as an individual: to celebrate their strengths, and help them grow in other areas. Without the distraction of how another celebrant-in-training creates, writes or officiates, they are free to blossom in their own way.

Students can choose from training with us in Cumbria or having their training with us via Zoom.


Upon completion of their initial face-to-face training, they have twelve weeks to complete the required modules. At any time during this initial twelve weeks, and without limit after certification, they can have ongoing mentoring with either of us. We also offer monthly group CPD sessions with other certified Heart-led Celebrants.

The nature of the training varies from sitting on the sofa sipping tea or coffee, water or other desired drink, and whatever foods you prefer to eat (cake, fruit, nuts, scones, chocolate ~ I told you it was bespoke training!), to sharing a plant-based home-cooked lunch (again, what do you like? Soup, salad, sandwiches, stew?) in the garden while enjoying sunshine or around the dining table with the woodstove crackling. Depending on the weather, there may be a walk to Long Meg and her Daughters stone circle, to a cemetery or speaking at a lectern.


Although the content of the training remains the same for each student, the shape of our days and terrain of our conversations changes with each person.

I love teaching, but I also love learning! And I learn something new from each person who crosses our path. While I may be the expert in ceremony and specialist in ritual, YOU are the expert of your life and your stories and way of being in this world. I am always open to being inspired and seeing a new way of looking at life.


I once had a celebrant trainer ‘tell me off’ for saying ‘students’. “They’re delegates!” the person was quick to inform me. “No, they’re not at a conference. They’re not in a hotel. These are people who are coming to me to learn. They are students or celebrants-in-training.”

There are so many celebrant-training schools and organisations now in existence. This is great for choice. However, you also have to make an informed decision about which one feels right for you. We are definitely NOT the training option for those who are attracted to the ‘slick’ corporate look or “how much money can I earn a year?” Or the one which always has me sending people elsewhere: “I want to be a funeral celebrant because it’s recession proof!”


Some courses are available online and are akin to getting a certificate from the back of a cornflakes packet. Most courses give you a certificate simply for attending and then you’re ‘free’ to go out into the world working with the bereaved despite NO thorough training in what this actually involves.

The money you pay is a huge investment. Make sure you know what you’re getting. There is far more to celebrancy than churning out scripts, having a ‘brand’, or knowing what app to use for your accounting.


At the heart of celebrancy is each and every person we work with i.e. people. Your training course must demonstrate and guide you through the various challenges that this involves.

The focus at Heart-led Celebrants is on people, not on numbers.

Our training will best suit those people who seek to create bespoke, beautiful, heart-felt ceremonies. The focus is on quality not quantity.

We welcome applications from people who are dedicated, devoted, creative, willing to work hard yet with fun, flair and imagination, and are open to learning and best-practice celebrancy. We don’t apologise for our approach. Why? Because people (for any rite of passage) only get one opportunity for their ceremony. It has to be right.

Lianne Downey from Newcastle, Heart-led Celebrant, during her celebrant training.

What we promise:
We will be kind.
We will not discriminate.
We will open up a new world (and vocation) to you.
We will be generous with our expertise, guidance and support.
We will offer guidance in all aspects of celebrant life.
We are here ongoingly for support and advice.