A funeral celebrant is a non-secular celebrant who officiates at a funeral service. Usually, they are a member of The Celebrants Association of New Zealand and have completed formal training for their role.

Funeral celebrants are not traditional officiators of funeral services though. Up until the 1970’s, this was the role of religious celebrants such as priests, monks and pastors. But in 1973, the Australian attorney general appointed non-secular marriage celebrants. As their popularity grew, their role as a funeral celebrant developed.

Benefits of Choosing a Funeral Celebrant

Unlike a religious celebrant, a funeral celebrant offers a more flexible and person-focused service. The celebrant will work with you to craft a service which is based upon what you and your loved ones want, not religious traditions.

A funeral celebrant will also take the major speaking role at the service, and show great flexibility on where the service is held and what form it will take. There is a large emphasis placed upon the personalisation of the ceremony.

Key Differences Between Funeral Celebrant & Funeral Director

A funeral director and a funeral celebrant have key differences in their roles:

  • a funeral celebrant assists with the organisation and officiation of the funeral ceremony. They can also perform other ceremonies including marriage, baby naming and civil unions.
  • a funeral director is responsible for the care of the deceased, collecting them from the place of death and caring for their body until after the funeral ceremony.

How to Choose a Funeral Celebrant

When selecting a funeral celebrant, consider the qualities they portray:

  • are flexible and sensitive
  • show empathy and listen
  • create a respectful and dignified atmosphere
  • can guide you when you need assistance

They should be willing to meet with you in person and are available to discuss aspects of the ceremony with you on more than one occasion. They'll take the time to get to know who the deceased was, as well as the wishes of their family. They'll also be willing to perform the ceremony at a time and place which suits you. Part of their role is creating an order of service, as well as officiating during the ceremony. This requires them to be comfortable speaking to crowds and meeting the specific needs of the family.

We invite you to continue your journey of choosing a funeral celebrant using our NZ-wide directory at My Celebrant Guide.