Are Trained Celebrants the Best?
When I began my Celebrant journey I did a huge amount of research. Firstly, I wanted to be sure that it was the right path for me, but also I knew that there would be a lot more to it than just turning up and delivering a service, and for that I would need training, help and advice.
There are many companies to choose from. Some offer individual courses, some train you in Weddings, Namings and Funerals all in one go. Some have distance learning, followed by a residential, some are online, some are just a couple of days.
I knew that the outlay would be large, so I was even more determined to ensure that I got good value for money, whilst ensuring that I also received the highest quality of training that I could find.
After extensive research I chose Civil Ceremonies; a very established training company, and one that offered the level Three Diploma. They are also the only company through whom you can apply for a student loan, and whilst this was helpful when making a decision, it was the course content and delivery that impressed me the most.
Signing up wasn't easy. I had to prove that I had a good understanding of using a computer and could create a document and then had a telephone conversation with Anne Barber who runs the company. Anne sorts the wheat from the chaff during that call, and only ever accepts candidates who she feels will benefit from the training, and ultimately do a good job. After all, a bad celebrant trained by Civil Ceremonies could reflect badly on the business.
Having passed those stages I was sent the distance learning pack and worked my way through the various stages, sending in my work for assessment. Only then was I accepted onto the residential part of the course. A five day residential, and boy did they work us hard and fit a lot into those five days. Having written and delivered a service at a local Crem, which was fully assessed, we concluded the week with two exam papers. I drove home feeling exhausted, with my head buzzing, but most importantly I knew that I had all the tools now to do my new job.
I was keen to join as many Social Media groups as I could, as I know how important it is to share best practice, whilst also having support from fellow Celebrants. These groups have proved to be interesting, and more and more, recently, I have become amazed at some of the questions, queries and requests for help that appear on a daily basis.
Simple things, that we covered in our training, are regularly being asked. Often people ask if someone will share a script. This leaves me horrified, as every service should be unique, and therefore every script will be different. By all means ask for a suggestion for a poem or piece of prose, or a piece of music that the family know some of the words too but can't remember the name of, but no-one should be asking for a full script.
For a short time I belonged to a group that were part of another training company, and I was horrified by the requests for help. All things that, in my opinion, should have been covered extensively in their training.
In the past few years, and in particular during the pandemic, more and more people have decided to become Celebrants (just like I did), not all are trained, and as there are now so many training organisations there are many who have been trained, but all to very different levels indeed.
Now, I am not saying that I am perfect by any means, I have learnt even more in the last three years, I continue to undertake more and more professional development whenever I can, and I have a wonderful group of outstanding Celebrants that I can call on for support. However, that is all it is....support. I don't ever need to ask them for a full script, or how to deliver a graveside burial, or what I should say at an internment of ashes. I might ask for a music suggestion if the family have no idea what they would like (one Celebrant in particular is brilliant as providing a list of relevant tracks), I might use a poem someone shared, if it feels fitting and is something the family are happy with, but primarily I am able to share with them my feelings, and the ups and downs of Celebrant life.
So.....are trained Celebrants the best? In my opinion I would say that they are (there are a few exceptions of people who have had no training and are excellent, but they are few and far between), but, and it is a big but, it depends on the training they have received. My advice would always be to go for a Civil Ceremonies trained Celebrant, as then you can be absolutely sure that you will get the very best care, professionalism and a unique service, crafted especially for you, to enable you to say farewell to your loved one in the most fitting way.
I like to think of it in terms of your gas boiler breaking down. You wouldn't ask your neighbour to pop in and put in a new one (unless that was their job!), nor would you ask your Grandad who retired from his job as a gas engineer twenty years ago. You would pay a registered Gas Safe engineer to install it for you. That way you would know that you had a good quality product that was safe to use. Your neighbour or Grandad might have done a good job, but you would never be absolutely sure they got it right, however the registered engineer would give you peace of mind every time.
You get one chance at saying goodbye, go for the best you possibly can to ensure that you say farewell in the most fitting way to those you love.