Ruth Graham

An Independent Celebrant based in the West Midlands and the surrounding areas
Ruth Graham - Independent Celebrant West Midlands, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield

What To Look For When Training As A Celebrant

What To Look For When Training As A Celebrant

What You SHOULD Get From Your Celebrancy Training 

When I trained as a celebrant several years ago, I wasn’t to know at the time that I was getting the best of the best. I’m talking here about quality of training, the materials, the support afterwards (very important!), and the resources available.

The journey for most people when they are thinking of taking this up is to browse a few websites, and possibly chat to anyone they know who does the job too. Then they’ll want to know what the work is really like, and if there’s enough of it.

I strongly suggest you read my book  'A Thousand Goodbyes'  for an honest insight into all aspects of the work and the situations we encounter.

Celebrancy covers several areas including funerals, weddings, family ceremonies like baby namings and renewal of vows – ask yourself which areas you’d like to specialise in, and then set about doing your research.

But back to the story – like I said earlier, once I was actually on the training, I realised just how lucky I was to have chosen the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants (FPC), for the following reasons:


The material training was planned in easy to follow segments that contained practical examples, and enough time and resources for practice. Everyone was encouraged to participate and mingle. Everyone was listened to and queries expertly handled. I’ve done two courses with the FPC now  and found both to be friendly, fun and most of all, hugely informative.


Everything we needed was on the course, and the best bit was – you got to take it all home with you. It’s a very generous organisation - you literally leave with a manual that covers everything you could ever ask.


This is a big one. Beware!! There are many, many people out there that will train you. But the majority will not be there for you once you’re out of the classroom doors! Some will not even take a brief phone call – they’re too busy training the next batch to bother!

In contrast - the head of the FPC is Terri Shanks – she’s only ever a phone call or an email away. And there’s a private forum on Facebook where all the celebrants interact. We share ideas and information, stories and resources. We’ve even got a resident poet who will write something for a service if it’s very specialist!

After training, and before your first service or two, there are bound to be questions. Something you’ve maybe forgotten since training, or a slightly different twist on the circumstances. Ask away – somebody will always be able to help. And it doesn’t matter if somebody has asked it before – we all understand how daunting it can be in the early days. And that’s another beauty of the forum – you can always sit and scroll through the postings and find ideas and resources when you need them.


There’s a fantastic newsletter that we receive several times a year. Everyone is invited to contribute with their stories and news. There are social events, charity updates and lots more.


The FPC is also a very giving organisation. Every year, Terri chooses a charity and a large portion of our membership fee goes to support the cause.

All in all – I can’t fault any of the training or help I’ve received. It’s been a joy to be a member of the organisation, and as we grow, I’m delighted by the warmth and support everyone continues to show.

Word Of Warning!
However, I have to issue a few words of warning. The celebrant market is EXTREMELY over-crowded. It's very competitive (there are around six different organisations churning out celebrants month after month now), so the market takes literally years to crack! Some celebrants are luckier than others, and get their break early. Others never do, and are forced to drop out and find other work. It requires relentless marketing, visiting funeral directors, exhibiting at wedding fairs, endless social media interaction and face to face marketing (like talks at the Women's Institute, for example). You need to be resilient, resourceful and extremely professional and have a lot of time to devote to it.  It's a wonderful profession, but please don't enter into it lightly.... it will sap your time, your energy and your funds if you don't get it right.