Hiring Clergy or a Celebrant for a Funeral
Funeral services and memorial services are almost always overseen by a member of the clergy or other religious leader. Because so much about death has to do with spiritual customs and religious traditions, it is comforting to have someone who is able to not only hold the service in accordance with your beliefs, but who can also provide the spiritual guidance you need during this difficult time.
Clergy or Celebrant?
Because a funeral is not a legal proceeding (the same way a wedding is), you don’t have to have any certifications or licenses in order to perform the ceremony. This means that anyone, from a valued member of your church to a celebrant the funeral home provides, can oversee things for you.
Clergy: Clergy members are ordained by a religious denomination and usually have experience overseeing large groups. When you choose someone you are familiar with and trust through your own church (and who knew the deceased well), you get the added benefit of personalization.
Celebrant: A celebrant (also known as officiant) is also a traditionally religious position for someone who leads a service or ceremony. For funerals, a celebrant is often offered through the funeral home for families who may not already have a clergy member in mind.
What Do Clergy and Celebrants Do?
Whenever a service is being held, it is important to have someone in charge to provide a framework. Like a host at the Oscar’s, this is the person who makes the introductions, leads the proceedings, and makes sure the order of events is followed.
More than this, however, a funeral celebrant is also someone you can turn to during your time of loss. These professionals are trained to work with families in grief and to help personalize a memorial service (even if they never had an opportunity to meet the deceased). This can include:
Drawing out memorable stories to share
Helping to write or deliver the eulogy
Personalizing the funeral ceremony
Talking with family after the service
Services can go above and beyond this, depending on your needs—especially if you seek spiritual guidance or require follow-up grief support.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Funeral Celebrant?
You typically have the choice of hiring a clergy member or celebrant from the religious institution of your choosing or the funeral home where your loved one’s remains are at rest. Either way, expect to sit down with this professional early on in the funeral planning process to ensure that the memorial service is everything you want it to be.
Depending on where you hire the celebrant and/or what services are provided, the costs range from $50 to up to $800. Many clergy members work on a donation-basis only, but it is expected that you will at least pay for his/her time and travel expenses.