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In 1973 a great Australian legislator, Senator Lionel Murphy, established Marriage Celebrants. Persons were appointed to give their clients the ceremony the client wanted - and never to impose on anyone any element of a ceremony the client did not ask for or approve. Funeral Celebrants evolved as a natural consequence of this program not only throughout Australia but also in the UK, New Zealand and recently in the USA.

MlaTPOH- LIONEL MURPHYIt became very clear to the first Funeral Celebrants what those who had lost a loved one wanted. This was, and still is, a carefully composed personal ceremony - words and music which pay proper and adequate tribute to the person who has died. They discovered that to do justice to this task, many hours must be spent in preparation.

The essential information needed is mainly gained in an unhurried interview with the family. (if the family is paying an hourly rate a number of interviews are possible.)

Once informed, the celebrant must then go about the creative writing of the eulogy, carefully selecting the most appropriate quotes of literature, and, usually in cooperation with the funeral director, making provision for selections of music which have been specially chosen by the family. Even with a great deal of preparation, no ceremony is delivered by our graduates or experienced colleagues, unless every detail of the eulogy is carefully checked with the family to ensure that it is accurate.

Then, with compassion, sincerity and care (the normal result of such careful preparation), the celebrant officiates at the funeral ceremony, usually at the home, special place, funeral parlour, crematorium or cemetery -. After the funeral, or before, the celebrant presents to the family a complete copy of the ceremony as delivered.

The funeral celebrants associated with the College of Celebrancy have usually been drawn to this work by a strong realisation that this is a task which needs to be done - and done well. Many have experienced grief themselves and have felt that the funerals they had attended were not always satisfactory or helpful.

All are convinced that at the end of a person's life that the tribute we pay deserves to be the best that human skill can present.

Nothing can take away the shock of death, but a genuine, well prepared tribute eases the pain. The recollection of a truly personal ceremony is a constant consolation.

We welcome enquiries about our work. Clients may contact any celebrant listed on this website or on or ring the Celebrants Centre office 1300 446 786. Different celebrants suit different people. We want our clients to have the celebrant and the ceremony, which is most appropriate for their needs.

The starting point for all celebrant funerals is secular, i.e. non-religious. The more important principle is that the words said express and celebrate the life of the person who has died, and, if that person had beliefs and ideals, these will be reflected in the ceremony.

Most celebrant Funerals are completely secular and non-religious but, if the client requests it, It is quite common for celebrant funerals to contain times of silence, the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm and similar, if, and only if, the family of the person who has died specifically requests it.

With some notable exceptions Funeral Celebrants are not paid justly or fairly in the Australian or world marketplace. In most places they receive a pittance fixed by and doled out by the Funeral Director. Because they love the work, or believe in it, they accept this , but standards soon fall, good celebrants leave the work, or in the worst cases they burn out from overwork in such an unfair system. The vast majority do not net the normal minimum wage.

Funeral Celebrants are not supported by any religious or other organisation. They are in the same position as your Funeral Director or any other professional or tradesperson. They are independent professionals in a caring profession with all the overheads and expenses of any business person. Our qualified celebrants are unstinting in their time with a bereaved family when they prepare for a ceremony. It is work involving care and skill: often done out-of-hours. It is time consuming and emotionally draining.

Hourly Rate Celebrants
I have observed that the few who charge an hourly rate advertise between $55 to $190 per hour depending on their qualifications and experience, and the size and responsibility of the ceremony. Ball park time for a prepared funeral is between 10-30 hours. This fee covers most funerals but is only a guideline. Estimate of what these would cost is about $1000-$2000 per funeral ceremony. Hourly rate celebrants have never been given work by any Funeral Director in my experience.

(Many celebrants work for the Funerals Directors' fixed fee of $550 in Victoria and $220 in almost every other state.(inc GST) - most of these celebrants do an excellent job given the time constraints such a low fee imposes. My recent dreadful experience with the ACCC(Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) leads me to the conclusion that the Funeral Directors Fixed fee is illegal in Australia. So could be the Funeral Celebrant's collaboration in such a fee even if they have no choice. Moira Rayner, author and legal practitioner wrote about Funeral Celebrants and Funeral Directors in the online Journal - New Matilda. Worth a read ! --

Enquiries regarding these funerals, or any other matter, should be directed to Celebrants Centre office 1300 446 786, Information about the Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy you can also phone Diane Storey on +61 417 106 275

Dally Messenger III Principal

© D Messenger 1995-2014

PS There is an account of the history of the development of civil Funeral Celebrants in my book - Murphy's Law and the Pursuit of Happiness: a History of the Civil Celebrant Movement

Books for sale from theCelebrants Centre1300 446 786 Yvonne -
Ceremonies - all
Ceremonies and Celebrations Book and CD
Celebrant Training in History
Marriage Ceremonies
It's Your Wedding by Dally Messenger