Welcome To The Institute Of Civil Funerals (IoCF)

We passionately believe that with the rapid increase of funeral celebrants in the UK over recent years, there is a need to ensure that those offering this service do so to the highest standard.

The IoCF is a not-for-profit organisation, registered as a company limited by guarantee at Companies House with institute status which provides support and representation for our members. 

Although some of our members also deliver wedding celebrations, baby namings and a host of other celebrations of life, we focus purely on funeral ceremonies because we believe it is vital that this final rite of passage for a loved one is delivered to the highest standards possible.  


Snippets from the lectern

The IoCF thought it would be a nice idea to show you some of the lovely things our celebrants have done during some of their services.


Diane Lightowler let us know that she had led a memorial service; these are her words:

"Last night I led the annual memorial service at one of the crems I work at. Nearly 100 people came back to remember their loved ones in a safe quiet space and it is really valued. They are facing a first Christmas without a loved one and we all know how hard that it is.
We lit candles, had a harpist, a visual tribute and contributions from two other celebrants along with baileys hot chocolate and mulled wine to finish. We also give everyone a tag to write their loved ones name on and put on the Christmas tree and they get a tealight and little angel token to take home.
All in all well worth doing - if anyone asks you about memorial services they take a lot of work but they are worth it!
Have a lovely Christmas"

Diane said that if anyone would like to chat to her about this she would be happy to do so.


One of our celebrants had these lovely stories to share:

"A family consisting of a brother and sister – mid-thirties, both living abroad were home to oversee the funeral of their father. They asked if they could put his RAF uniform on the coffin as he loved aircraft – always talking about them and knew everything.  When I asked them, they said he had been a Junior Training Officer but had left the service when they were young.  I took the artifacts, was bemused by what I saw and went off to investigate.  Result was I was able to tell them that their father was not a ‘Junior Training Officer’ but had in fact been a senior ranking Jet Tornado Pilot with an elite squadron!  It was quite an emotional moment all round – they had no idea.


"At another military funeral I did for a relatively young (early 70’s) ex Fireman at an MoD base; he had served with the military and been in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles. We gave him the appropriate military send off and I went to collect his medals from the coffin to give his family. It was the first time I had seen them and I did a double take! I asked his wife to confirm they were her husbands which she did, I then asked if she knew what they were. ‘No – they were kept in a drawer’. I was able to inform her and his son that he was the holder of the third highest award for gallantry – the Military Medal and that any memorial to him they were to put MM after his name. The pride in their eyes did bring tears to mine.


"I had a gentleman who lost his wife – late 40’s and we were discussing her service. One thing that came out was that his wife was known for her talking, couldn’t keep quiet for more than 20 seconds, so we agreed a plan. After the committal, I called for 2 minutes reflective silence and hush descended.  After about 20 seconds I got up and in a load voice said: “This is silly – what are we doing?”  The look of horror on everyone’s face was fantastic. I then said: “*** couldn’t keep her mouth shut for more than 20 seconds so 2 minutes of silence isn’t exactly reflecting her is it!”  Everyone burst out laughing and we got on with a planned verse and music. Outside afterwards – everyone said how they thought it was a great twist and how much they enjoyed it.

It’s moments like that that make it all worthwhile."


‘One of our celebrants …

‘... had a call from a woman asking if she and her husband could talk through what they'd like for their funerals.  They'd found me on the Institute website (hurrah!).

I offered to see them for an hour for no charge and cycled out to their house.  They were both in their mid 70s and seemed in good health.  Previously they had attended an evangelical church but they had clearly lost trust and confidence in any church or belief - this was something we didn't go into as it wasn’t relevant to our discussion.  They didn’t know where to turn to in thinking about and preparing for their deaths.  Their mature, highly qualified, children didn't want to talk with them about their funerals.

It was a very interesting, intellectual, chat.  Amongst many things I explained to them that, if they chose to have a civil funeral ceremony, they could have anything they wanted.  We discussed all the implications of such freedom and considered several possibilities.

I suggested that it might be better not to pre-write every word to be said or make every decision about music or readings or other content because the people who end up arranging their ceremonies might want to have a say in it too.  Based on my own experience of working with a close friend on her ceremony before she died, that seems the fairest approach to planning your own funeral content, although others may have other ideas.

They seemed to accept that suggestion and we parted on very good terms – they were disappointed that they couldn’t pre-book me!’


Not only are our celebrants highly trained they have a real passion for their work and go above and beyond just providing a funeral service.

Please do ask your celebrant if there is anything you want for a loved ones' funeral but feel it would not be the 'done thing'.  You never know what kind of wonderful service you could have if you dont ask.

Who we work with

Rose petals in heart shape


Work with someone who has the training, professionalism and empathy needed to ensure the funeral ceremony you are arranging will be all that you hope it to be.

cremation, people and mourning concept -  cinerary urn, photo frame with black ribbon and woman holding red roses at funeral in church

Funeral Directors

We share your professionalism, ideals and standards in everything we do. Add value to your service and find out why an IoCF member is the celebrant of choice.

Celebrant performing naming ceremony for parents and their baby daughter in an historic barn.


Find out how you can be supported in all aspects of being a funeral celebrant with an organisation that puts the delivery of quality funeral ceremonies at its heart. 

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What people say about our celebrants

Everyone present commented on the love, warmth, humour and compassion that ran through the entire ceremony and how different the service was to was what they have come to expect from funerals. What was crafted was a fitting celebration of the amazing life of a remarkable man that is etched in people’s memories for all the right reasons.

Thank you…when you say that to somebody who literally has given you one of the best gifts just seems too little.

We managed to both laugh and cry at the service and that was a surprise.. The whole service went completely to plan thanks to you! Everything was perfectly timed. For me, you made one of the hardest days of my life so much easier.

You have a mixture of sympathy, empathy and knowledge that is just amazing!

So although these words are easily said, they are deeply meant.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

There can be few more painfully subjective moments than this, you are letting a stranger into your lives when your world has shattered and you can barely function. It is only thanks to the genuine sympathy and compassion that ‘our celebrant’ showed us that helped us get through this occasion.

Now that I'm getting myself back together, I feel that Carol helped me so much through the whole business of the funeral, before, during and after. It was a great comfort and help for me to have her there, in person and in the background. Her support was so kind and genuine, a complete stranger holding me up, listening, advising, sharing and so much more, I cannot express enough how much she gave me during that time. I shall always hold that close to me, will never ever forget her and I shall think of her and reflect on her wise words many times in the future I'm sure.

The celebrant captured mum’s essence perfectly. We wanted to reflect mum as our mum and as the woman she became once we had all grown up – with her quirkiness and fun for life. ‘Our celebrant’ did the most amazing job of hearing our babble and transforming it into the most heart-warming celebration of mum’s life.

What ‘our celebrant’ wrote and said about my brother meant a great deal to me; her ability to listen to what we said and crystallize it into a beautiful appreciation of him was more than I could have hoped for.

Very professional, but shown empathy, patience and understanding. Was very warm and caring towards family members. It felt like Martin personally knew my mother, his presentation was excellent, he was very knowledgable and a great comfort at such a sad time. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending or using Martin again if ever the need arose.

For someone who has only known remote, religious services at funerals, the celebrant scenario was a breath of fresh air as it personalises and concentrates on the person who has died. Carole made this focus top of her agenda, and the resultant service was superbly detailed with my mother's life in retrospect - a really special service delivery.

I hope the Celebrant service grows more widely and I would encourage your institution to 'advertise ' their services as the entire congregation at my mother's funeral wholeheartedly agreed with.


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