what is a funeral celebrant

Funeral celebrant is a formal term denoting members of a group of non-clergy professionals who are committed to preparing and delivering high quality funeral ceremonies, which are not closely linked to any religion or to belief in an after-life. The concept of funeral celebrants is analogous in Western countries to that of civil celebrants (for marriages). It began in Australia in 1975.

On 19 July 1973 the Australian Attorney-General Lionel Murphy had appointed civil marriage celebrants with the aim of creating ceremonies of substance and meaning for non-church people. As secular (civil) marriage ceremonies became accepted, first in Australia and then in other Western countries, it was inevitable that a similar philosophical paradigm would be applied to secular funerals.

A civil funeral celebrant is an individual person, quite often, but not necessarily, an authorised civil marriage celebrant, who offers to perform civil funerals in a dignified and culturally acceptable manner, for those who, for whatever reason, do not choose a religious ceremony. Civil funeral celebrants also serve people who have religious beliefs but do not wish to be buried or cremated from a church, temple or mosque. More frequently, people choose civil funeral celebrants because they wish a professional person to co-create a service centred on the person, their history and their achievements.