Planning a Funeral Service

Choosing a Funeral Celebrant

If you would like me to lead the service for your loved one, then please ask the funeral director to contact me directly. They will check my availability against your proposed date and time and make sure that I’m available to work with you.

If you don’t have a Celebrant that you’re familiar and comfortable with, then the Funeral Arrangers will use their expertise and their knowledge of the celebrants in their area, to match you with a suitable Celebrant.

What Happens Next?

blooming bush of rose in garden

Planning a funeral service isn’t something that many people have to do very often, so if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and confused, that’s totally understandable. That’s where your celebrant will help to take some of the pressure off of you and make sure that you are supported throughout.

Once I’ve been appointed by the Funeral Director, I will call you the next day to arrange a time to have a more detailed conversation about the service. That conversation will take place in whatever form works best at the time, and will depend on health legislation, availability and comfort with technology. Between us, we’ll agree who should be on the call, whether that should be a face to face meeting, a video call, (and if so, what format would work best for you) or a simple telephone call.

What do I need to think about?

bright blooming lilies near violet wall with shadows

When we’ve arranged that meeting, I will send you a message or email which will give you a simple breakdown of the sort of things we’ll be discussing, which will help you prepare and should take some of the mystery out of the process.

It’s worth stating that you don’t have to have anything prepared. If you have a clear idea of what you want, then I’ll work with you to make sure you get it. If you’re not sure, then I’ll work with you to help you test your ideas out and we’ll refine together as required. If you find yourself staring at a blank sheet of paper, then don’t worry! I’ll give you suggestions in our first meeting to help get you started.

There are two main topics that our conversation will focus on – first of all the overall structure of the service – what goes into it, who will do it and when will it best fit, and secondly I’d want to talk about your loved one so that I can prepare a loving celebration as a tribute to their life.

Key areas within each of those would be:

Overall Service Structure

  • Entrance/Exit music choices
  • Reflection music – music/hymns if required
  • Poems (if any) that you would like to include 
  • Readings (if any) that you would like to include
  • Prayers (if any) that you would like to include
  • Would anyone like to take part in the service, by perhaps giving a reading or a poem?
  • Is there a charity you would like people to make donations to?
  • Is there a wake taking place that you would like me to include?


  • Parents, siblings, children, Grandchildren
  • School & education 
  • Childhood years
  • Career & jobs 
  • Achievements & voluntary work
  • Hobbies, interests, any pets 
  • Holidays
  • Love story, socialising, wedding, anniversaries & birthdays
  • Any funny stories
  • Character and traits

It’s very possible that there will be questions that I ask that you will not know the answers to – it’s important that you know that that is perfectly normal and is ok. If an answer can be found, then that’s great – if it can’t be found, then that’s great too, so please don’t worry.

How will we work together?

blooming tree in garden in daytime

At the end of that first meeting, I will take away everything we’ve discussed and prepare two documents. I’ll put together a Service Outline document which will list all of the key elements of the service – we’ll use that to make sure that you, I and the funeral directors all have the same understanding of what is happening within the service. The detail in there will be used to order music and produce an order of service if that is required.

I’ll then produce a longer Service Script document into which I will build opening and closing words that are appropriate, and will create the loving tribute using all of the information that you’ve given me. The Service Script will show every word that I’m planning to say, from welcoming people into the chapel to closing the service itself.

I’ll send those two documents to you so that you can review them and that together, we can then revise and refine over the coming days, until we reach the point where we’re happy that the service is complete.

What Happens on the Day?

On the day, the funeral director and I will liaise to ensure that everyone is in the chapel and ready, at which point, I will take over from them and lead the service. If anyone else is speaking as part of the service, I will let them know when it’s time for them to come up to the lectern, and I’ll stand by their side, ready to support should the emotions become overwhelming at any point.