If you plan on having a funeral ceremony, someone will need to lead the proceedings and, at the very least, say a few words. Do you have anybody specific in mind? 

We look at your choices of officiant to help you decide who will lead your funeral ceremony. 

Who is this guide for? 

  • Anyone planning their own funeral that includes a ceremony
  • Anybody who wants help knowing what their options are

Reading time

 3.5 mins

Who gets the last word at your funeral ceremony? 

In the not too distant past, a religious minister would lead a funeral service as a matter of course. But that isn’t the case now. A traditional religious funeral is in decline.  For one thing, not everyone in the UK identifies as religious.  

What all this means for you is that you do have the final say about who and how your funeral service is conducted.  The question is who is your preferred choice of voice?

What are the different types of funeral officiants?

  • Religious minister 
    If you consider yourself a person of faith, then it's likely you will choose a religious minister and incorporate your faith into the funeral or memorial service. You’ll want someone who can talk meaningfully about the beliefs, traditions and practices that are important to you.  
  • Civil celebrant 
    Maybe you don’t practise your faith in a formal way, but you’d like some religious elements? A civil celebrant can conduct the funeral service and include religious elements, such as hymns, a bible reading and prayer. 
  • Humanist celebrant
    If you're looking for a religious-free zone, then a humanist celebrant is the way to go.   Or you could simply ask a family member or a close friend to lead the service. In that instance, it would be wise to discuss the matter now and agree clear guidelines about music and any eulogies. Ideally, you want someone who is comfortable in front of an audience and able to project their voice so the people at the back can hear.
  • Funeral director 
    Your family could ask the funeral director to take the service.  He or she may make a charge for this.

It’s a big decision.  It’s worth taking the time to reflect on your personal values and what sort of ceremony best represents you and the impact it will have on the people you care most about.

Remember that regardless of who takes your service, when you plan your own funeral you can leave wishes for what will be said and heard. 

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Get the send-off you want and help  loved ones avoid making decisions at an already difficult time.  Leave clear instructions in this free Funeral Wishes Planner.

It's the perfect companion document for your Will and funeral plan if you have one.

What are the funeral officiant’s duties? 

If you are inviting a family member or friend to officiate at your funeral ceremony, then you might want to fill them in on their role for the day.

  • The eulogy 
    Writing and reading the eulogy they – or you – have prepared.
  • Event management
    Inviting others who knew you best to step forward and say a few words. 
  • Content management
    Ensuring the readings, poems or prayers and music you want are included. 
  • Time management 
    Making certain the service keeps to time.  
  • Public relations
    If the service is to be held at a separate location, giving instructions as to who is welcome to attend the committal and where it is.  

    And letting everyone know where any funeral reception is being held, along with helpful information such as dietary provisions and whether there’s a tab behind the bar.  It makes it clear where everyone needs to go and what’s awaiting them.  Better that than the awkwardness and disappointment they may feel paying for a drink at the bar when they needn’t have.   

Does a pre-paid funeral plan include the cost of the officiant?

Whether the funeral plan includes the third-party officiant’s fee depends on the type of funeral plan purchased.

There are three types of Plans. All guarantee to cover the funeral director’s fees. The difference in Plan types lies between the level of third-party cover.

  • Guaranteed funeral plan 
    This type of plan will cover the third-party costs for cremation or burial and the officiant fee in full or up to the equivalent amount charged by a Church of England minister at the time the funeral is needed. 
  • Contribution funeral plan
    This type of plan includes a contribution amount towards the cost of cremation or burial and the officiant fee. The contribution amount will grow until the funeral takes place, in line with either the Retail Price Index (RPI), the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or in some other way chosen by the funeral plan provider. Any shortfall will need to be paid by your representative or from your estate  to the funeral provider.  
  • No Contribution funeral plan 
    All third-party cremation or burial fees and officiant fee will need to be paid in full at the time of your funeral by your representative or from your estate to the funeral provider. 

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Don't leave loved ones to worry about the detail of your funeral.  Leave clear instructions in this FREEand simple 
Funeral Wishes Planner

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About the author 

Sophie Williams

Sophie can usually be found reading a book. Writing a novel has always been on her bucket list. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Sophie likes to explore and gain a deeper understanding of peoples' attitudes towards end-of-life planning and how it impacts their lives. She hopes that in some small way her writing around these topics can make a positive difference to her readers.

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