Drafting The Funeral Celebrant Accord

The Funeral Celebrant Accord and the accompanying Working with Funeral Celebrants: Points for Excellence are resources for funeral directors and celebrants to support raising standards through a mutual understanding of how we define a good, indeed excellent celebrant. Through the use of these resources we aim to set the bar for excellent celebrancy and in doing so seek to develop and improve the relationship between funeral directors and celebrants, and an appreciation of the value of a good celebrant.

In 2018 the Council conducted a national survey amongst over 500 funeral celebrants, the first survey of this kind ever performed. At the time 76% said they belonged to one of 23 professional associations and, as we enter 2024, the number of training organisations is growing. As a result of these findings it was noted that there was no common standard of celebrancy. The Council worked collectively to draft an agreement as to the qualities and proficiencies of ‘an excellent celebrant’. 

This document was published as The Funeral Celebrant Accord in 2018 and presented at the National Funeral Exhibition that year. There has been broad nationwide uptake of The Accord by both funeral directors and celebrants. A pair of questionnaires for use by funeral directors and arrangers was also published, as Working with Funeral Celebrants: Points for Excellence, to assist funeral professionals in identifying best practice in the sector and to promote good working relationships between celebrants and others working with bereaved people. 

Who drafted the Funeral Celebrant Accord?

The Accord was drafted by a council of established professional associations and training providers within the funeral celebrancy sector working together for the first time. The work grew out of a realisation that more and more people are becoming funeral celebrants either with or without training, and there were no common standards across the profession. All organisations on the council have had an equal say.

Why we need The Accord and Points for Excellence

The quality of the celebrant makes a great difference to any non-religious funeral ceremony. A funeral is a critical part of the grieving process and often the moment, and only opportunity, for people to freely express and share their feelings, and create meaningful memories of the person who has died. Good funerals, which are meaningful to bereaved people, aid the grieving process and, therefore, contribute to the health of the nation.

Celebrancy is a relatively new profession which good celebrants seek to promote as an alternative to traditional ceremonies. However, the public often view ceremonies as mere formality. No family deserves a funeral which is poor because not enough thought and skill went into it, and varying standards of practice reflect poorly on this currently unregulated profession.

We know that standards are inconsistent across the profession, however, as a council we are all agreed about the criteria that define a good celebrant. We feel that bereaved people should expect no less. We encourage funeral directors to only recommend celebrants who aspire to meet the criteria set out in The Funeral Celebrant Accord, and we have offered them Working with Funeral Celebrants: Points for Excellence as a simple checklist resource.

Standards of funerals should always be high – we only get to do them once. Many people have very low expectations of a funeral and consider it an unpleasant formality, therefore, many people accept poor quality impersonal ceremonies, but this does not need to be the case. The Funeral Celebrancy Council is setting standards so that everyone can access the best funeral ceremony possible.