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The day in the life of a celebrant - Lianne Fraser
How long have you been a celebrant?
Why did you become a celebrant?
Serendipity. I was driving behind a car that had a personalised number plate related to being a celebrant, and, in an ‘aha’ moment, I decided that’s what I was going to become. So, I pulled into the nearest café and googled how to become a celebrant. That day I signed up for celebrant training and began the process of becoming appointed as a marriage celebrant. My family laughed and thought I was nuts; my friends thought it was perfect.
Do you have another job besides being a celebrant?
I’ve been in communication management for many years. I now freelance and mostly research and write for environmental interpretation signs and website text.
What ceremonies do you perform?
Mostly funerals and weddings but baby naming, vow renewals and pet funerals too, although these are not as common.
What do you enjoy about being a celebrant?
The variety of work – every ceremony is unique. The privilege of intersecting with people at some of the most important times of their lives. The personal challenge of ongoing learning and professional development. Having to confront what are often tragic and difficult situations and managing these while helping others.
What are some of the hardest parts of being a celebrant?
Uncertainty of work, which impacts planning and income.
What was the most memorable ceremony you have performed?
Mostly funerals and the firsts of anything, e.g. the first burn-out and mob funeral, the first time a tribute was sung, the first child/baby, the first time it was someone I knew.
What is one poem, reading or song you like to perform at a funeral or wedding ceremony?
I rarely use the same readings preferring to find something that suits the person or the couple. However, I do have favourite reference books, and I keep a notebook of quotes and sayings from fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes these are one-liners, e.g. ‘a sediment of sorrow’.
‘Grief cannot be fixed, nor the process shortened. It is what it is. Grief is not a problem to be solved.
‘Once in a while in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale’.
When did you join Celebrants Aotearoa? And what do you appreciate about the association?
I joined Celebrants Aotearoa during my first weekend’s training with the Celebrant School. I value that I belong to a professional organisation and appreciate networking, being supported, and having resources via the website and regular opportunities for professional development through branch activities and conferences.
What would be your typical day as a celebrant?
There is no typical day. However, if I’m asked to officiate a funeral, I must first get details from the funeral director and ask if there are any family factors to be aware of. Then, I contact the family, arrange a time to meet, and then meet with the family, friends etc. Depending on the circumstance, there may be more than one meeting. After this, a draft ceremony is written and emailed to the family – I know some celebrants don’t send their ceremonies to couples or families. I do because I want to know that I’ve captured the situation and sentiment correctly and have the people and the choreography in the right order. I then make any adjustments. Finally, and in consultation with the funeral director, I present the ceremony.
What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
Don’t judge your success by the number of ceremonies you officiate. Learn to listen deeply, use your EQ and compassion. Whatever ceremony you are taking, it’s not about you; it’s about the couple or the deceased and their family. Be ready for the unexpected. Brene Brown said that comparison is the thief of joy. Always be yourself and use your voice.
How do you relax after performing a ceremony?
Sometimes a cuppa and debrief with the FD after a funeral service. Mostly, I get in the car, go home and get on with my life. Reflection will filter, often over time. I will reach out to other celebrants.
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