All About Civil Funerals

Arranging a Civil Funeral

Chris Woods - first civil funeral ceremony in Colchester's Moot Hall - Jan 16

Before meeting the celebrant

A core part of ensuring a funeral ceremony is in keeping with the wishes of the deceased and their family is to meet with the people who are leading the planning of it.  This gives our celebrants a chance to get to know the family and find out all the pertinent details about their loved ones. It also gives the family a chance to get to know the celebrant who will be leading this important rite of passage. 

To ensure this happens, all of our members are encouraged to contact families as soon as possible to introduce themselves and to agree a meeting at a mutually convenient time and venue.  There is no set time limit, it truly is about getting all the information needed to plan the ceremony. If a physical meeting is not possible, perhaps because of sheer distance or time, the celebrant will either arrange a telephone call or a video conference with you. 

During the meeting

During the meeting. the celebrant will explain what is involved in the ceremony and will give practical advice to plan the ceremony if required. Discussions about favourite readings and music and, for those who wish, suitable hymns or prayers, often also take place at this point.

Perhaps the most valuable part of any civil funeral ceremony is a carefully scripted tribute written about the character and life of the person. This personal tribute is often a celebration of the person’s life, recounting their experiences, attributes and qualities. Every effort is made to capture the essence of the deceased and gathering information for this is likely to form a major part of your meeting with the celebrant. The celebrant will write or help you to write the tribute if you wish, or you are free to write it yourself should you prefer. Your celebrant will be happy to provide guidance on how to do so if this is needed. On the day, the tribute, or parts of it, can be delivered by the celebrant, a family member or a friend.

After the meeting

Following the meeting, the celebrant will create a draft ceremony in full, and will then seek your approval. It is helpful for them to see any contributions that family or friends will be making to the ceremony to ensure they do not duplicate content and so that they can keep an eye on the overall timings.  Once you have read the draft ceremony, you are free to make alterations or add extra information should you wish. Nothing will be said at the funeral which you have not given approval for.

On the day

On the day, the celebrant will lead the funeral ceremony and will later give you a printed copy of the service for you to keep.

Our celebrants are trained and have experience in delivering scattering of ashes ceremonies, interment ceremonies and memorial services.  Please speak to your chosen celebrant should you wish to know more.

Each of our Celebrants is self-employed and fees do vary across the country. Please do feel free to ask the celebrant what their fee is.

Ask your Funeral Director for an Institute of Civil Funerals Celebrant, or go to “Find A Celebrant”.

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