The Layers of Celebrancy

When training people to be celebrants, my teaching style is a blend of organic and methodical. At one level, I like to see where our conversations lead and how the student thinks and makes connections to their own life experiences. There is ample space for navigating the varied terrain of this career. On another level, the courses are built on the structure of how to get from ‘no knowledge or experience’ to becoming a functioning and employable professional celebrant. As trainers, Paul and I know what needs to be taught, and in what order to present that information.


It’s not unusual for people who train to be celebrants to expect to be in full-time work the second they’re holding their certificate (and bear in mind, there are many organisations which certify celebrants without any assessments).

Becoming a brilliant celebrant isn’t an overnight process. It is something we create through consciously adding layers, one at a time, to our skill base. We might already have, for example, skills in certain areas, and be gifted with empathy, kindness and a deep-level listening ability. 


If I suggested you put your trousers or coat on first, then put your shirt and skirt on next, and then knickers and bra on top of them, you’d think I was crazy. And yet…this scenario, in celebrant-skills learning, is played out around the world. If a course gives you a certificate and says ‘go out and work and send in your course work later’, they’re telling you to put your underwear on top! It’s not any better than courses where you’re certified based on attending rather than on demonstrating aptitude and awareness.



Or if you’ve received a certificate and then hang out on a celebrant forum asking basic advice like ‘how do you write a eulogy?’ or ‘how do you write a committal?’ or ‘how do I write a love story?’ or ‘how do I include a quaich?’ or ‘where do I find a poem about…?’ (the list goes on).


When we train celebrants, we start with the basics. We create a solid foundation upon which their celebrancy work will rest on and flourish. And then, layer upon layer, we add new information, new practical exercises, and new ways of adding to their skillset. This might even involve repetition to aid the learning (not dissimilar to what you’d expect from a piano teacher). Being a celebrant isn’t like being a game-show host or world’s greatest entertainer. We are Guardians of the Threshold; Gatekeepers of the Liminal Space. This role, this sacred art of accompanying others on their rite of passage, is one which should be undertaken with the reverence and respect it deserves. And that means learning is a gradual and mindful process. Becoming a celebrant isn’t like picking up a take-away meal and having instant gratification. It requires hard work, diligence, dedication and discipline.


There are so many aspects to being a celebrant, and the cloak of responsibility is one that is worn best when we’ve dressed in the right way. No cloak ever looks good when your frilly knickers are hanging over your shoulder. 


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 has been officiating beautiful, bespoke ceremonies since 1995. She is a certified Infant Loss Professional; founder of Penrith’s first Death Café; is a celebrant for the charity Gift of a Wedding; and mentors celebrants around the world.

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.