I’m often asked whether I do weddings. In fact I think most people assume that celebrants are wedding celebrants first and funeral celebrants second. But my focus is on funerals … here are some of the reasons why.
Don’t you like weddings?
It’s not that I don’t like weddings … I do! (Get it?). But I started working in funerals because of my interest in bereavement and grief. After working as a funeral assistant for a short time, I realised that my real interest was in celebrancy. In helping people to tell someone’s life story. In helping people give words to grief. In helping to create a time that acknowledges not only the complexity of grief, but the optimism of life.
But if you can do funerals, can’t you do weddings too?
I had on-the-job training as a funeral assistant, and then did the Silver Celebrants residential training course for celebrants. It is one of the few dedicated funeral courses in Australia, and certainly one of the most comprehensive.
But despite the training as a celebrant, there is one important reason I don’t do weddings: I’m not authorised. There is an important legal element to a wedding celebrant’s work. As part of the ceremony, a wedding celebrant will declare a legal change to a relationship. While anyone could write and deliver a wedding ceremony that focusses on the celebration and commitment, only only an authorised celebrant can give the marriage its legal status.
To become a wedding celebrant, you must first complete a Certificate IV in Celebrancy and then apply to the Commonwealth Government through the Attorney-General’s department for registration. So a wedding celebrant will be able to lead any other kind of ceremony or ritual–naming, vow renewals, funerals–but a funeral celebrant can only perform a wedding ceremony if they are also a certified marriage celebrant.
“It’s not that I don’t like weddings…I do! (Get it?). But I started working in funerals because of my interest in bereavement and grief.”
So why don’t you do the course and become a wedding celebrant?
I have considered it. And as more and more people ask me, I think about it again. But there are two reasons I haven’t become a wedding celebrant. First, my real interest (passion is over-used, but it probably does apply here), is in funerals. I started this work, because I want to help people create a time and a space that lays the foundations for healthy grieving.
Second, besides funerals, I am focussed on my writing career, especially my work in theatre writing monologues for performance. I don’t think I’d have the time to give wedding ceremonies the attention they would need.
There are many people who are both funeral and wedding celebrants, and they do a great job of both. I’ve made a decision to keep my focus on funerals. From the first meeting to the placing of the final tribute, it is extraordinarily enriching and rewarding work.