What is a Celebrant?

A Funeral Celebrant is a person that has been trained and certified by InSight Institute to meet the needs of families by providing an individualized service during their time of loss. A Funeral Celebrant schedules a pre-funeral meeting to gather the stories from family members and friends. The Celebrant then actively starts writing and collaborating the personalized tribute of the funeral or memorial service to reflect the personality of the loved one who passed away.

Celebrants can work independently or directly with the funeral home on the arrangement process and coordinating the elements of the service. Celebrants are compassionately dedicated to providing an honorable ceremony that reflects the personality, beliefs, and lifestyle of the individual.

A Celebrant has access to a library of extensive resources for music, special ceremonies and eulogy readings which helps design a unique service that honors the lifestyle and beliefs of the individual.


The Origin of Celebrants

Funeral Celebrants originated in New Zealand and Australia in 1975 sprouting from civil celebrants who performed marriage ceremonies.  An acknowledged pioneer of civil celebrants, Dally Messenger III, performed the first celebrant funeral for Helen Francis (née Grieves) on July 2, 1975 at the Le Pine Funeral Parlour in Ferntree Gully, a suburb of Melbourne in the state of Victoria. 

As Civil Celebrants became widely accepted, the Celebrant Foundation and Institute (formerly known as the USA Celebrant Foundation) was established by graduates of the Australian-based International College of Celebrants in 2003. It has emerged as the leading organization in training and educating civil celebrants that offers education, licensing and training for celebrants to perform weddings, funerals, and business events in the USA. 


The Dawn of Funeral Celebrants

Since 1978, Doug Manning has dished out his gentle wisdom with compassion and conviction leading him to become a best-selling author, sought-after speaker and a grief expert relied on by the media. His calling as an author and lecturer began after serving as a pastor and counselor for 30 years in churches in Oklahoma and Texas. 

He had grown increasingly concerned at the lack of knowledge and comfort that he and his fellow ministers had to offer to families when a loved one died and began to study the concept of grieving and the role that the funeral played in assisting a healthy grief journey and recovery.

As a result of this study, he wrote his first book, A Minister Speaks About Funerals, in 1978. He self-published the book and sold it primarily to funeral homes. In 1979, he wrote his first best-selling book, Don’t Take My Grief Away From Me. He became more aware of the need for resources and seminars in the area of bereavement and life transitions.

Dough Manning wrote When Love Gets Tough: The Nursing Home Decision in 1983. With the immediate success of that book, he made the commitment to follow this dream full-time. So, with a lot of hope, luck and faith, he changed careers and founded InSight Books in 1983 as his publishing and seminar company, now known as InSight Institute.

InSight Institute has grown over the years and now specializes in books, video and audio productions specifically designed to help people face some of the toughest challenges of life. Not only is it a resource for grief care books and seminars across the country but now it expanded to incorporate Funeral Celebrant training and certification.