April 25, 2016

Become a Celebrant

Performing as a celebrant

AC Warden

Going from film producer to celebrant

After a 25-year career as a documentary film producer, AC Warden was feeling burned out. “The subjects were getting more sensational and budgets were being cut. Work was getting a lot less satisfying but I wasn’t ready to retire,” says Warden, now 56.

So three years ago she began looking around for a more fulfilling career option. She heard a story on NPR about the Celebrant USA Foundation, which trains people to officiate at ceremonies marking the big events in life, from weddings to funerals. “My friends always said I was the most spiritual person they knew.”

She was intrigued and began taking classes online to get certified. The courses took one year and cost $1,200 and Warden became a celebrant in 2004. She officiated at more than 60 weddings last year and also does funerals, house blessings and commitment ceremonies. Though she doesn’t earn as much now as a celebrant – about $30,000 a year after expenses – as when she produced films for PBS and National Geographic, she says she enjoys the work.

And, without a pension and huge savings for retirement, the income will help with her retirement expenses. “It’s demanding in its own way but you can shape it to be what you want it to be. I work with people at transitional times in their lives but it’s not as high pressure or grinding as working in television. It’s very spiritually fulfilling and I envision it as something I can do till I die.”

by Jennifer Merritt, Carolyn Bigda and Donna Rosato

According to Wikipedia, “Celebrancy is a movement to provide agents to officiate at ceremonies often reserved in law to clergy or officers of the courts. These agents, generally referred to as “celebrants”, perform weddings, funerals, and other life ceremonies for those who do not want a traditional religious ceremony.
The Celebrant Foundation & Institute says “celebrants officiate at and co-create personalized ceremonies such as weddings, marriages, commitments, renewal of vows, baby welcomings and adoptions, coming of age, step-family tributes, new dwellings, birthdays, graduations, survivor tributes, job transitions, memorials, funerals/end of life tributes, divorce, special achievements and civic and corporate events.Becoming a celebrant requires some training to earn certificates in performing funerals, weddings, and ceremonies for families and children.
A college degree is not required for this position, you can take courses online or in a traditional class setting if offered at a location near you.
For weddings, celebrants fee can range from $500 – $1500 for an all inclusive ceremony (consultation, rehearsal, ceremony, certificates).  Most couples who’ve used a celebrant for their ceremony advise not to go the cheaper route –
“In order to ensure that you are getting the best possible personalized service, from a celebrant who will really take the time to listen to you and understand your needs, it is worth paying that little bit extra.Some celebrants rush from one wedding to the next, forgetting names and racing through the ceremony. I’m sure that this is not what you want for one of the most important days of your life.   Most times celebrants will charge for any extensive traveling to/from ceremony sites, you’d make the choice about your mileage radius before including this charge.”
For funerals, the average fee a celebrant will charge ranges from $200 – $450.  Here’s a news story about Kevin in Ohio who works as a funeral celebrant.
Two foundations that offer online courses are:

View other Celebrant books

About Mitch Jensen

Hello! I love to learn how people make their money, whether it's out in the offline world or through various online sources.SideJobIdeas.com was created to consolidate these ideas, pass them on, and provide inspiration.Hope you find some sort of inspiration here, thanks for visiting!


  1. I am a funeral celebrant…and love it.

    Have contemplated becoming a wedding celebrant, but don’t think I would be as effective.

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