One thing I’ve noticed over the years that we’ve been training celebrants is this: the way in which a celebrant-in-training approaches their training (both the face-to-face training and the twelve weeks of independent learning and written and practical modules) tells me a lot about how their vocation/career as a celebrant will progress.
There’s a saying: How you do anything is how you do everything.
Integral to our training is role play, being assigned written or vocal tasks, homework on training days, and dialogue on various aspects of celebrancy.
The first thing I like to do when a new celebrant joins us (apart from start with a cup of coffee/tea together) is to talk through what celebrant life is like. This is important.
If you follow the average celebrant on Facebook or Instagram you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the best job in the world and every day is simply wonderful. WRONG. Well, it might be the best job in the world but every day is different, and sometimes it’s just plain bloody hard. For example, as a working celebrant I’ve had months of working seven days a week and feeling like there was nothing left in the tank. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I knew if I accepted a ceremony booking it meant committing to the time and work required even if it meant every evening was spent writing a funeral or wedding (or other rite of passage).
Or if you have a ‘challenging’ client and want to throw in the towel. There can be all sorts of things that tip the scale. On a good day, being a celebrant is amazing. There’s a skip in your step and all is right with the world. You love being of service and making a real difference in people’s lives. It truly is gratifying and soul strengthening.
What I do know, after 28 years of being a celebrant, and this is non-negotiable, is that you need:
• The ability to work when you can’t be bothered
• To get your ego out of the way
• To generate ideas
• To pull your socks up when you’ve had a bad day or difficult client and keep going
So, when I have a celebrant-in-training who makes a fuss about being assigned some work in the evenings of their face-to-face training, or that the modules and portfolio work is taking up too much of their time, or they resist any tasks set or reject constructive feedback, or have poor listening skills, I know that their path ahead is either going to flatline or prove to be immensely difficult. Why? Because our training is designed to give them a sense of the reality of celebrant life. A celebrant needs to be able to take direction (and give direction), and to recognise that they aren’t in a position of power over a client but are employed by them.
By the same token, I watch some of our celebrants-in-training who fully embrace the work required and they delve deep into their modules. Everything is approached with appreciation, joy, care, respect and reverence for the role which has such an incredible impact on people’s lives. They recognise that this isn’t just another string to their bow or recession-proof job or extra pocket money. I watch these students change before my eyes, and they see how lifechanging this training is and can be. It’s that way because of them and their attitude. They bring a sense of grace, clarity, enthusiasm and authenticity to their training. They start as they mean to go on.
As Heart-led Celebrants:
We touch lives.
We change lives.
We honour lives.
To do that, we must start with ourselves.
The responsibility of being a celebrant is a heavy one. That is, if we care about what we bring to others and what we want to put into the world.
When students submit work to me I quickly see the way in which they’ll present themselves and their ceremonies to clients.
Is it with care?
Have they shown attention to detail?
Have they taken the time to really consider what they’re writing about?
Have they ‘rushed something off’? Is their impatience jumping off the page?
Or have they created something that is worth their client referring to for years on end?
There are many reasons people choose to train with us:
• Geographical location
• Comprehensive training
• Flexibility with dates
• Our experience and reputation
Whatever the reason, this I know: the way a student approaches every aspect of their training is a template for their celebrant life.
I also know this: we won’t compromise our high standards to accommodate someone else’s average standards.
As trainers and teachers, we can guide, we can open doors, we can advise and we can inspire but in the end, it is what the celebrant-in-training brings to the course that determines their success. Like any other aspect of life, an attitude of gratitude is everything. It is an absolute honour and privilege to be chosen as someone’s celebrant and this is not something to take for granted.
Veronika Robinson has been officiating all manner of ceremonies since 1995, and alongside her husband Paul www.paulrobinsonvoicecoaching.co.uk are industry leaders offering one-to-one professional celebrant training.
Veronika is also the author of Write That Eulogy; The Successful Celebrant; The Blessingway Ceremony; Funeral Celebrant Ceremony Planner; Wedding Celebrant Ceremony Planner; and editor/owner of The Celebrant magazine. Her upcoming books Funerals for Children: a gentle celebrant’s guide; and The Discrimination-free Celebrant: unravelling our biases and prejudices are publishing early 2024.
Veronika is a certified Infant Loss Practitioner.