That is the question I often get when people hear I am a Celebrant! My husband would surely be surprised to learn of my professional title, no?
But I quite understand the confusion. Celebrancy is a fairly new phenomenon in the U.S.; it has only been an active profession here since for 15 years or so. So maybe you haven’t heard of us.
But Australia has had an active celebrancy movement for over forty years, and England even longer than that. In those countries, celebrants compose and officiate many, and maybe most, of the civil ceremonies and some of the church-sponsored ceremonies that take place.
We can thank Charlotte Eulette for seeing the need in our own land. She went overseas in early 2001, the story goes, to critically assess the use of celebrants for weddings and funerals, and returned to our shores to do it better. That’s American ingenuity for you.
Now, there are thousands of celebrants here, educated professionals who are celebrants because they have seen a need, studied to prepare themselves to undertake this important work, and who try to make a living doing it. I promise you: no one becomes a celebrant to make lots of money, though. We become celebrants out of an acute awareness of the need for the profession. But before we get to the reason celebrancy matters, let’s define our term.
Celebrancy: the art and profession of creating and performing personalized ceremonies uniquely designed to honor clients’ own needs for meaningful weddings, end-of-life memorials, baby welcomings, retirements, pet memorials, and more. As well as working with individuals and families, celebrants also compose ceremonies for civic functions, such as art installations, new building dedications, and community healing ceremonies (such as those that followed 9/11).
A celebrant employs her or his excellent writing skills, speaking ability, love of the arts, engagement with people and our lives, respect for our need for ritual, and organizational skills to handcraft ceremonies for clients from all belief systems. Celebrancy can draw from all human cultural traditions in order to provide individuals, families, and communities the relevant ceremonies they desire.
So there you have it. Being a celebrant is important, sustaining work!