In celebrant life, it’s such a joy to share photos from our ceremonies whether it’s of wedding couples, the venue, décor, cake, floristry, landscape/seascape or with other ceremonies, such as words of reflection about a moving funeral.


What isn’t talked about so much, or shared, in modern celebrancy is the role of confidentiality. All my ceremony contracts have an opt-in section for those couples who are happy for me to share photos of their ceremony. This goes way beyond any GDPR requirements, which are hopefully a given, but about respecting that not every person we work with is comfortable about being used to document our working life.

More often than not, though, there are couples who, for whatever reason, do not want any aspect/mention of their day broadcast: their names, images, venue and so on. Whether this request is because of their professional or celebrity status or because they don’t want their images on the internet, this is their right: it’s their ceremony, their identity, their life.


As a funeral celebrant, although I readily share snippets from my working life about which venue I’ve worked at or the life someone lived, names are kept out of my social media posts. I don’t share cover photos of the Order of Service, either. I also feel strongly about not sharing information about child funerals (with or without names).

In a social culture which shares ‘everything’ it can seem, for a celebrant, like their hands are tied if they can’t post about every single ceremony. Celebrancy is not a sport. We’re not in competition with each other about who has the most ceremonies, or who has the most high-profile clients, and so on. Although there are celebrants who won’t take on couples if they can’t share photos of their ceremony, I’m not one of them. Maybe it’s my age (I’m no spring chicken), or because I’ve been a celebrant since the mid 1990s long before social media ruled our lives, but I’m not motivated by bragging rights.


I absolutely LOVE it when couples generously share their wedding album with me and give me free reign to use any of the pics on my website or socials, and am grateful for this. Of course I am. It is a joy to share these.


I’ve never been the sort of celebrant who insists on taking a selfie with each couple to post on social media. If you want one with me, then of course I’ll join you. It would be my pleasure.


I am also a confidential celebrant. So if you don’t want mention of your names, day, dress, décor, venue and so on shared, that’s absolutely fine, too. Many of my couples requests this.

When celebrants say “Your day your way” that should mean iron-clad confidentiality, too.





Darryl and Greg at Three Hills Barn. Celebrant: Veronika Robinson

Veronika Robinson is a confidential Heart-led Celebrant in Cumbria. She has had the immense pleasure of creating beautiful weddings since 1995, and still has a skip in her step each time she heads off to officiate a ceremony. Although her practice is based in Cumbria, she officiates from Cornwall to Callanish, and everywhere in between, as well as internationally. Veronika is an inclusive celebrant and practises discrimination-free celebrancy. Her officiating style is relaxed, authentic, friendly, warm, gentle, caring, and with natural humour. She creates ceremonies across all rites of passage, whether religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist.

Veronika and her husband Paul are co-tutors at Heart-led Celebrants Celebrant Training in Cumbria.

Each celebrant sets their own fee based on either undercutting other celebrants (a busy celebrant does not mean a good celebrant), staying midrange and in line with many of those in their area, or at the high end to attract wealthy clients.

My fee isn’t based on what other celebrants charge or on a client’s budget. And nor is it based on an hourly rate.

What it is based on is what I bring to the table:
* 28 years as a working celebrant with experience across all rites of passage
* Masters Degree in Creative Writing
* Industry Expert
* Empathy, care, kindness, compassion
* Highly developed skillset
* Organisational skills
* Travel time
* Creating and developing script ideas
* Research
* Writing
* Interviews/meetings
* Rehearsing the script
* Rehearsal day (for weddings)
* Officiating on the day


I’m an accomplished, competent and confident public speaker who is praised for her diction, gentle and humorous manner. Due to my vast amount of experience, it means that my clients are in safe hands. I’m never going to let them down. How can you put a price on that?

I could charge half the price I do for a wedding (and do 2 to 3 weddings a day) but my goal, my ONLY goal, is to deliver weddings of quality. My commitment to each wedding couple is that I only do one ceremony a day. That means my focus is 100% on them. 

Veronika Robinson is a Heart-led Celebrant in Cumbria. She has had the immense pleasure of creating beautiful weddings since 1995, and still has a skip in her step each time she heads off to officiate a ceremony. Although her practice is based in Cumbria, she officiates from Cornwall to Callanish, and everywhere in between, as well as internationally. Veronika is an inclusive celebrant and practises discrimination-free celebrancy. Her officiating style is relaxed, authentic, friendly, warm, gentle, caring, and with natural humour.

An essential part of my role as a celebrant is having an openness and open heart towards all human beings, and practising non-duality. As a Heart-led Celebrant I am inclusive in my work. What does this mean?


I practise discrimination-free celebrancy. This means that I will not discriminate (or associate with those who discriminate) against you on the grounds of religion or other beliefs, disability, mental health, body shape or size, health narrative, socio-economic status, race, culture, gender, gender reassignment, age, marital or parental status.

I honour the right of each human being to celebrate their life. You have my assurance that I will accord you the respect you deserve.

Veronika Robinson is a Heart-led Celebrant in Cumbria, England, and has been practising as a celebrant since 1995, officiating internationally across all rites of passage. She’s also a celebrant trainer and prolific author.

Tags: celebrant training, discrimination-free celebrancy, non-duality
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The world is changing. There’s no question of that. I’ve long held the belief that to live and thrive in this world it’s not so much ‘survival of the fittest’ but ‘survival of those who can adapt’. And this has always served me well both in terms of being a risk taker and rolling with life’s pulls and punches. It’s a kind of shape shifting that allows me to bend, like a willow, and make my way in the world no matter what. Increasingly, though, there’s an aspect to this world, and specifically how it impacts my work as a celebrant, celebrant trainer and author, where I have been questioning just how much I adapt to those changes. Am I just an old ‘fuddy duddy’ now I’m almost 56? Am I behind the times? Is it time to hang up my celebrant hat? I’m referring to the widespread use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).


Bit by bit I’ve watched changes in the celebrant world, for example: celebrants using Kindle or some other technology to read their script from during a ceremony or various apps and programmes to store their client information. The latest intrusions into this world include celebrants outsourcing their scripts to other celebrants/writers and also the use of AI to write their scripts.


Here’s where I stand: I will never use a technological device from which to read my script. Apart from the aesthetics (my main aversion), there is also the risk of the device not performing on the day (for all manner of reasons). I also use good old-fashioned diaries and calendar to keep track of my dates (no risk of technological failure/theft), and use my funeral and wedding planners for essential details. I’m not suggesting it’s wrong for a celebrant to use a Kindle or to use an app like 17 Hats. I’m simply saying that it’s not my way. In the same way that I feel holding an A4 folder looks clunky compared to a smaller A5 one.


When it comes to outsourcing the writing of scripts to AI or other celebrants, I feel ill at the thought. (Ditto the number of professional authors now using AI to write books so they can publish more often.) What happened to heart? What about the joy of creativity? Surely this is what we want to bring to this work?


If someone employs me to be their celebrant, then they are choosing ME to create and dream and write their ceremony into being through my experience, imagination, creativity, wisdom, intuition, awareness and so on. AI CAN NOT DO THIS.

When someone buys one of the books I’ve written, they are buying non-fiction books based on my experience, skills and wisdom, or fiction books based on my imagination and creativity. AI CAN NOT DO THIS for me.

Are we, as humans, becoming so far removed from what it is to be human that we think and feel it’s ok, indeed preferable, to rely on technology rather than heart and the creative fire?

And if we’re going to outsource to another human then for reasons of ethics, integrity and data protection this needs to be clearly stated at the outset on one’s website and in all communications. The buyer of your services needs to know that they’re NOT getting your services! Outsourcing the writing of scripts has become prevalent in this industry. 


The celebrant industry (and make no mistake, it has become an industry whereby some celebrant trainers and celebrants have completely forgotten or never knew or understood the true purpose of ceremony and the place of a celebrant) is changing rapidly, for better and for worse, in ways that would have seemed incomprehensible to me when I started on this path in 1995. I’ve had so many moments in the past few years of not wanting to be part of this changing ‘industry’. It’s so far out of alignment with my approach to celebrancy that, despite my view and ability to ‘adapt’ to changes, I’ve contemplated walking away many times. And yet, I’m still here. I remain, for now. Why? I’m here for those people who understand (even if they can’t articulate it) ceremony to be a liminal place in time whereby the celebrant holds the space for those crossing the threshold (regardless of the rite of passage). I don’t, and never will, see rituals (such as handtying) as some sort of parlour game or joke or that it’s acceptable for people to arrive at a ceremony half drunk.

I can hand on heart say I will never outsource my work to AI or another celebrant. My sense of reverence for ceremony and the rituals within it don’t mean that I’m devoid of humour or can’t create a bespoke ceremony for a fun-loving couple or family wishing a joyous celebration of life. Far from it. What it does mean is that I understand the purpose of ceremony, and at each step of the way bring my whole heart, creativity, reverence, integrity and care.



To be clear: I’m not against technology. I’m writing on a laptop. I am grateful that I have a car and that a washing machine cleans my clothes rather than me standing all day long scrubbing them and wringing the water out of each item. These things all have a place in this world. I’m not against change or advancement. Ceremonies and storytelling, though? Let’s keep the heart there. In this rapidly changing world, we need it more than ever. Let us not lose touch with compassion, empathy, kindness, humour, wisdom, awareness of body language, curiosity and creativity, and dare I say: our innate sense of spirituality.

The day I don’t bring the human touch to my work as a celebrant, celebrant trainer and author is the day I step away.


Veronika Robinson has been a celebrant since 1995, officiating across all rites of passage, and is the co-owner and co-tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training in Cumbria. It brings her great joy to, alongside her husband Paul, teach others the sacred art of creating ceremonies from the heart.

She’s the author of over 30 books including the popular books for celebrants: Write That Eulogy; The Successful Celebrant; Wedding Celebrant Ceremony Planner; Funeral Celebrant Ceremony Planner; and coming soon: Funerals for Children; and Discrimination-free Celebrancy. On a daily basis, she is connected to the natural world and draws her inspiration from there.

Write That Eulogy: the art and craft of biographical storytelling

ISBN 978-1-7398336-6-4

©  Veronika Sophia Robinson

©  Extract from Changing Places by Paul Robinson

©  Cover illustration by Sarah Esau


Cover design, interior design and typesetting: Starflower Press


Literary Criticism

UK £12.99

Published by Starflower Press

170 pages



“It is written in a way which is accessible to everyone.

I’m not sure how you did it,

but this book is gold dust to the new, and experienced, alike.”

Rachel Cheer, Celebrant at Hope Ceremonies


Some of the most important words ever spoken are only heard once.


Write That Eulogy offers an antidote to the tired traditional telling of eulogies. This book is for anyone who is considering writing their life story, or someone else’s, so it is told faithfully and with creative flair at their funeral.


Whether you’re an experienced celebrant, officiant or vicar, or are facing the task of writing your first eulogy for a loved one, this book will give you practical and proven ideas and techniques based on the author’s experience as a funeral celebrant.


If you’re willing to question what’s always been done, then you’re half way there to improving funeral ceremonies.


Veronika Robinson is a celebrant in Cumbria, in the north of England, a celebrant trainer and author.

What Celebrants Are Saying About Write That Eulogy

I found it so incredibly useful to have each stage and writing skill/tool described in such a clear and methodical way.
Breaking down the understanding of writing a eulogy, in so many ways, by looking at the areas of life (which I loved!) and also by considering literary elements, made the process of eulogy writing, for me, far less huge and daunting. And that there’s no need to sit with a blank piece of paper, wondering where to start. I think my tendency generally is to focus on the ‘whole’ which turns any task into an enormous monster; I feel I can now tackle a eulogy in stages, in a rather more sensible fashion.

I’m reminded that writing is an on-going process, and the development of skills and, very importantly, attention to the senses, can really make a difference to sensitive and thoughtful writing.

I find that family sometimes seem to feel duty or honour bound to write and deliver a eulogy themselves, as if it’s the last thing they can ‘do’ for the deceased. So for anyone who does choose to deliver a eulogy, your book would be an absolute godsend.

Truly, I loved it; it’s accessible, so informative and a joy to read. I also find your ability to share personal information about yourself really heartwarming.
Lorraine Haven, Celebrant, U.K

‘Write That Eulogy’ has been a joy to read. The way in which you manage to paint the most beautiful pictures with your words, not just as part of one of your eulogies, but in leading your readers to see, hear, feel, and physically experience your style, is a true gift. I have been lucky enough to train with you Veronika, and already receive wonderful comments from people who have listened to one of my eulogies, thanks to you. But I have learned so much more from the varied and insightful examples given, and been thoroughly challenged by your exercises, to examine how much more I could, and will, be doing.

Sharing the details of someone’s life should be treated with the greatest of respect, but that does not mean their Eulogy shouldn’t be a true reflection of them, whether they were joyful, dour, nature lovers, hoarders, care givers or miseries.

Veronika, your book not only acknowledges, it pays unflinching tribute to all of those most difficult circumstances which could be faced, meets them head on, and gives eloquent examples for how to deal with them.

Anyone, from an experienced Celebrant, to a person just writing for someone by default, will be able to improve not just their writing skills, but their delivery skills as well, achieving that much sought after outcome of bringing the person back to life, one last time.

Thank you Veronika.
Michelle Knight, Celebrant, UK

It provides a step-by-step guide to the multifaceted task of eulogy construction. I think if I was new to the subject, this would be a brilliant guide. Equally, I was riveted, as a more experienced writer. I think all the examples really bring it to life.

We never stop learning our trade. It is easy to slip into more mundane ways and this is a beautiful prod to never become boring. I have learned that there is much technical detail in a eulogy. I think I do lots of it naturally, but it has made me appreciate the complexity of the work.

It is written in a way which is accessible to everyone. I’m not sure how you did it, but this book is gold dust to the new, and experienced, alike.
Rachel Cheer, Celebrant, Scotland

This book will definitely help me with eulogy writing. I loved the areas of human life, these will certainly help me to reframe my questioning and help me to get more meaningful information to work with. I also loved reading the scene setting, and again, this made me think about my own style of writing and ways to improve it.
This book would be useful for anyone who works with people as it helps you to think ‘outside of the box’ and question the very essence of human beings.
Lianne Downey, Celebrant, England

Wow! The Twelve Areas of Human Life was absolutely fascinating. Your experience and attention to fact finding and in-depth detail of avoiding the dreaded resume we so often hear at funerals was not only enlightening but much appreciated. Word Medicine and the chapter titled Difficult Death Stories were chock full of helpful information and I am just amazed at some of the situations you’ve had to rise above and work with.

I have learned so much that I feel my anxiety towards interviewing mourners actually dissolving!

Has to be the most interesting “text book” I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Kimberlee Brown-Cassady, Celebrant, USA

I loved this book for lots of different reasons. Firstly it was very inviting – it makes you want to be the best you can be, at creating a eulogy which honours and tells the story of the deceased.

I loved it, as a newbie to the celebrant world; it’s a book that is super insightful, helpful, and packed full of a life’s worth of learning to help others be the best they can be at writing that eulogy!
Deb Anderson, Celebrant, England

You make the reader recognise that writing a great eulogy is not for the faint hearted, and you must have a passion for writing and understand the mechanics of it. The anecdotal experiences described give the reader a real sense of the work of a professional celebrant.
Gill Bunting, Celebrant, England

Write That Eulogy has been woven together beautifully; it’s an effortless read which can teach an individual a lot about themselves, as well as a craft that you have spent years fine-tuning.
Ben Foreman, Celebrant, Scotland

I have learned that I will never stop learning. Your writing is inspirational. I must admit that this book will be read many times. There are many subjects covered that I feel reviewing it after reading it only once is a disservice. It will help enormously with writing my eulogies. This book will be of great help to existing celebrants and invaluable to new ones like myself. Anyone interested in words and creativity would be interested too, once they read the contents page!
Kate Pope, Celebrant, England

Veronika Robinson has had the immense pleasure of being a celebrant for twenty seven years. She officiates across all rites of passage from Callanish to Cornwall (and overseas upon request) however mostly works in Cumbria. She is a tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training and editor of The Celebrant magazine.


This intimate wedding ceremony took place at Augill Castle in Cumbria. Surrounded by immediate family and a few friends, this beautiful ceremony reflected my couple’s Christian values. The beautiful bride arrived with her three daughters while Jill Lowther played guitar. It was a gorgeous Summer’s afternoon. 


We began with a wedding invocation followed by a ring blessing. Intentions were set based on their Christian values of caring, commitment, compassion, fairness, faith, forgiveness, gratitude, kindness and trust.

I talked about the blending of families, and the sacredness of family.


This reading was shared:

Blessing for a Marriage ~ James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you
all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring,
and may life grant you also patience,
tolerance, and understanding.

May you always need one another –
not so much to fill your emptiness
as to help you to know your fullness.

A mountain needs a valley to be complete;
the valley does not make the mountain less,
but more; and the valley is more a valley
because it has a mountain towering over it.

So let it be with you and you.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.

May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another,
and not fail in the little graces.

May you look for things to praise,
often say, “I love you!”
and take no notice of small faults.

If you have quarrels that push you apart,
may both of you hope to have good sense enough
to take the first step back.

May you enter into the mystery
which is the awareness of one another’s presence –
no more physical than spiritual,
warm and near when you are side by side,
and warm and near when you are in separate rooms
or even distant cities.

May you have happiness,
and may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love,
and may you find it loving one another.


Rite: Rosemary and Rose Ritual Handwashing

We drew upon an ancient Christian tradition of matrimonial handwashing.


The Giving of Rings

The couple had chosen vintage wedding rings as collecting vintage items was a shared interest.


Braiding of the Cross: Handtying

They also symbolised their bonding with a handtying. Each ribbon symbolised a quality they admired in their children. I then included a Christian reference.

The first ribbon symbolised a son’s quality of stability. This is something which will bring solidity to this marriage. May we be reminded of Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

The second ribbon was chosen to symbolise another son’s ability to remain steadfast.  In Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

The third ribbon symbolised their daughter’s unconditional love.

From John 4:19 we are reminded: “We love because He first loved us.”


Another daughter’s resilience in life and to life was symbolised by the giving of a fourth ribbon. It is said that ‘tough times never last, but tough people do’. We asked that along the roads and bends of life, their blended family remain resilient.

The fifth ribbon symbolised another daughter’s generosity. It is hoped that throughout their married life, they will not only be generous with each other but extend this to all those who happen upon their path. From Proverbs 22:9 “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”


The sixth ribbon symbolised the abiding and generous love of God. 



Another ritual in their ceremony was drinking from the caudle. This vessel, traditionally used in castles, is symbolic of love, trust and peace between two people.


Their celebratory drink was warm apple and honey. Apple to symbolise God’s children and honey to symbolise the sweetness of God’s love. Together they remind us how much better our lives are when we remember God’s love.

While it is fair to say that the majority of my couples do not want a religious wedding, it was lovely, as a celebrant, to create something quite different from my other ceremonies.


Couple: Inga and Greg

Celebrant: Veronika Robinson

Venue: Augill Castle

Photographer: Joanne Crone

Veronika Robinson has been a celebrant for 27 years. She officiates ceremonies, across all rites of passage, from Callanish to Cornwall, however works primarily out of Cumbria. She is also a celebrant trainer at Heart-led Celebrants, and is editor of The Celebrant magazine.


Rite of Cocktail Mixing: Dark and Stormy

by Veronika Robinson

It was a dark and stormy time in Laura’s life when Steve brought just the right ingredients to turn things around. This ritual symbolises the blending together of their two lives.

The Dark and Stormy Cocktail is a rather mystical, mysterious and strong libation based on just three distinct ingredients:

Kraken spiced rum

Ginger beer

Lime juice

Rum symbolises that happiness and a good time were coming their way!

They each took turns adding the ingredients.

Rum improves with age. It has a way of becoming bolder and more confident, and this is what we wished for them individually and as a married couple.

Lime symbolises fidelity. We asked that they stay faithful to each other physically, emotionally and with each thought they had. Lime brings out the elements of this drink and, just like marriage, a tangy touch can bring out the essence.


Ginger is for abundance and good fortune coming into their home. We wished that this remains so for the rest of their lives.


To give this cocktail its stormy feature, Steve add a second shot of rum.

The individual ingredients still existed as entities in their own right but blended together made something interesting, distinctive and strong.

They then enjoyed three celebratory sips, with each one symbolising a different aspect of their love.

Couple: Mr and Mrs Stables 

Celebrant: Veronika Robinson

Venue: New House Farm, Lorton near Cockermouth, Cumbria

Photographer: Joshua Wyborn


There are so many aspects to the art of creating a ceremony that, if you’re planning to book a celebrant, it’s worth really looking into what’s involved. Your investment in a celebrant goes way beyond paying someone to stand up and speak for 20-30 minutes or so.


Opening Up to Inspiration
From the moment I’m booked, ceremony development is happening. It is entwined in every interaction between me and the people I’m serving. My mind is integrating each piece of information I’m given, and I begin creating (in my head if not on the page). Certainly, when I come to the page (blank screen on my laptop or notebook), I’m already hosting an influx of ideas.


Listening is, I believe, the most important aspect of being a celebrant. By this I mean deep-level listening. This is about more than what you hear. It’s also about what’s not spoken, and having a keen awareness of body language. There’s another listening that happens, too, and for me this is listening to my inner voice (or intuition). This guidance supports me in all my ceremony writing (even, and especially, when my ‘logical’ voice is telling me otherwise).

To listen is to have a solid foundation for what is placed upon that.


Next comes creating. As a sensual person, my whole being is involved in ceremony creation. I can see it, hear it, perhaps have a sense of the scent of it (if there are perfumery rituals or we’re outdoors), and I really can feel the ceremony in my whole being. THIS, of course, has to be translated to the page.


Choice Making
Before a script is written, there are choices to be made (by me and/or my client), communication, research, considering my reaction to various ideas. Even in scripts with a short turn-around time, such as a funeral, where I’m working to the pressure of having to send off a script within 24 to 48 hours, I still go through the same phases of ceremony development (just in concentrated time).


Unseen Qualities
There is no price that you can put on a celebrant’s experience, creativity, empathy and intuition.

Obviously, we charge a fee as an energy exchange (money is, after all, our cultural currency) for our services but I often wonder about that potency or accuracy of that. For example, coming home from a double-grief funeral, when my heart is split in two from the trauma and tragedy story I’ve walked into and out of, I know that there is no price you can put on being ‘the keeper of stories’. What fee can you place on all the hours of walking beside another in grief?


And who holds the celebrant as they integrate all the grief they’ve absorbed from a congregation of mourners? Whether we like it or not, being a funeral celebrant can have a massive impact on our health as we’re having to ‘master’ emergent grief and empathy from spilling out. It takes a toll. And then there’s the stress of making sure a funeral service in a crematorium doesn’t run over time (even though a skilled celebrant writes their scripts to be time sensitive, other timing issues are well out of our control).


As a celebrant who officiates across all rites of passage, many of my ceremonies are happy and joyous. These too, despite the upbeat tone, also carry the weight of responsibility: to ‘get it just right’.

There are times, to the untrained eye, where I might look as if I’m just pottering around the garden admiring my flowers (which I am) but it’s also a quiet space in which to allow ideas to unfurl. Sitting on the sofa in silence, watching flames flicker in the woodstove or standing in a steamy shower are also times for ‘creating ceremony’.



My creativity isn’t marked by being at the laptop from 9am to 5pm. This is no ordinary job. I don’t actually see celebrancy as a job so much as a way of life. It is a constant energy exchange between me, the world around me, and the people I serve.

So I’m just as likely to be celebranting (creating ceremony) while cooking up a curry, watching rain drops slipping down the window pane, gathering raspberries at sunrise, or out walking in the woods.


Wherever I am, and no matter the time of day, all these places and moments have one thing in common: my heart. And this ‘ol heart is what takes me through each moment of ceremony development.

Veronika Robinson has been officiating ceremonies since 1995. She’s also a celebrant trainer for Heart-led Celebrants, and editor of The Celebrant magazine. She officiates ceremonies from Callanish to Cornwall, though primarily works in Cumbria.

By Veronika Robinson


Across the years, the question of whether children should be ‘allowed’ at funerals has remained a sensitive topic. There’s no definitive black-and-white answer, however, I would like to share the case for, and place of, children at funeral ceremonies.

A few years ago, my best friend ended her life. It coincided with the 40th anniversary of her late father’s passing. Over the course of our eighteen-year friendship, the one recurring story I heard was about how, as a ten-year-old, she’d been denied the right to attend his funeral. This, she said, had a life-long impact on her mental health. There was no closure. The emotions which bubbled up were quickly shut down. I’ve heard this story from many other adults who’d shared a similar experience. Let me say here, I fully understand that the adults who made those decisions for their children did so with the best possible intentions. They were endeavouring to protect. How were they to know the life-long impact?

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be so much as ‘should this child go to the funeral?’ but rather ‘will it help their healing and grief to share in this moment of remembrance and saying goodbye?’


Culturally, we have been taught to suppress feelings with comfort food, alcohol, shopping, sex, Netflix, endless scrolling of social media, and so it goes on. Why are we so scared of our feelings? Yes, crying (and grief) is exhausting. There can be anger, guilt, even betrayal at a loved one’s death. When someone dies, we each have our own experience of grief (no one can EVER know how you’re feeling). Because adults are often well-versed in how to ‘numb out’, it can be confronting to see a youngster who is fully in their feelings.

As a funeral celebrant, I’m acutely aware (at any ceremony, of any type) that it could be the first time someone goes to a ceremony or may be the last one they ever go to. And this applies to children, too. There’s an added responsibility (in my opinion) for the person leading the service to ensure it is child/age appropriate and sensitive. But more than that, it is a unique opportunity to show that in the face of loss, grief and tragedy there can be deep love shining out. And interwoven in our stories that we share on behalf of the family, are moments for crying, yes, but also for laughter or at the very least: gentle knowing smiles. However these emotions are expressed, they offer a release valve. Movement helps to assuage the fight-or-flight response.


Where possible, I will find ways for the children to be involved in the ceremony at a level that feels right for them. This can range from writing a few words, a poem, drawing a picture, helping decorate a coffin, or helping with a ritual. This active participation ensures they are at the heart of meaning-making, and will have the whole range of their tender and fragile feelings honoured.

At what age is it ok to allow a child attend? I’ve experienced every age at funerals from a nursing newborn whose father had died through to a crematorium full of toddlers(racing around the whole time), preschoolers and up to teenagers.


There is a difference between children attending because they knew the deceased as opposed to toddlers attending because their parent (who knows the chief mourner) doesn’t have a childminder. As ever, awareness and sensitivity of the mourning family and their ability to be fully present in the ceremony should be uppermost in your decision making.


When mourners attend a funeral, their focus is primarily on the person leading the ceremony and their loved one in the coffin or shroud. As a funeral celebrant, MY focus is not only on officiating the ceremony but I have full awareness of all the faces before me, whether it’s a small ceremony of two or one with 500 mourners. I’m constantly ascertaining the energy in the room, the body language of people, emotions being displayed or withheld, and the faces. It is a constant study of faces. I’ve had funerals where, the mother in me, just wanted to leave the lectern and wrap a crying child (whose mother was in the coffin) in my arms. That’s my natural instinct: to ease pain. To offer a balm. My job, however, is to offer healing in other ways. I do this through my word medicine, the kindness, care and authenticity I bring to the ceremonial space.

A number of my recent funerals have had quite a few children in attendance. The one thing which has really struck me with all the children was that they were 100% present. And this, I believe, is key. It means that in the liminal space of the funeral ceremony they were actively integrating everything that was happening. Their faces spoke to me of grief and devastation, yes, but ALSO of curiosity, love, tenderness and, at times, laughter.


Language is important. I never use words like ‘sorry for your loss’. Their loved one is dead, not lost. They’re not coming back. I might say “I’m so sorry for all the pain you’re going through.” I use words like death and dying because this is the reality. For the same reason, I don’t talk of a “baby born sleeping” (unless the parents want those words).

Life on Earth is transient. We only need to look to the season of Autumn to see that even Nature has her endings. This isn’t about being cold or harsh, but the opposite. The kindest thing we can do for any grieving person is to stand in a state of love and grace. To do so, means we’re less likely to choose the wrong words or try to cover over the reality of the situation. We’re offering our presence. We’re there to listen or to gently reflect the memories they’ve shared with us.


My role as a funeral celebrant is to hold the space. The energy I bring to the ceremony is one of inclusivity and kindness. This is a safe space in which to allow children a place to honour their feelings around a loved one’s death. If a celebrant can reverently reminisce about their loved one, and show the panoramic view of their life, followed by the gentlest of goodbyes, steeped in the reality of a physical ending, this will help a child on their path of healing. As adults, this is what we’d want for ourselves. Let us extend the gift of grief awareness to children, too.


Veronika Robinson is a Heart-led Celebrant in Cumbria who officiates across all rites of passage. She’s also co-tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, and editor of The Celebrant magazine.





Paul Robinson, the voice and presentation coach for Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training

Here at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, we place great value and care on the use of voice and presentation skills and qualities in celebrancy work. As a result, our modules include one-to-one coaching with industry expert, Paul Robinson. There are at least five hours of vocal coaching, and more sessions are available to each person should they wish to pursue this element of their celebrancy.

Here’s what some of our celebrant graduates have said about their vocal/presentation part of their training.

Paul is a superb voice and presentation coach. I can still hear his voice in my head with his brilliant advice and techniques that he taught me with such humour and care. The breakthrough for me was recording myself reminiscing about a memory and then listening back to how I sounded and the rhythm and pace of my speaking voice, and that is what I aim to achieve whenever I am officiating either in the eulogy with a funeral or the love story at a wedding. Paul has such a calm and caring manner, and his training has really paid off – because families often comment on my voice and mention how calming and soothing my presentation is, which is all down to Paul. And he taught me how to stop swaying from side to side when I’m speaking too! I would highly recommend Paul, he is simply amazing!
Petra Rigby, Heart-led Celebrant, Blossom Tree Ceremonies

Paul Robinson is an alchemist. The definition of an alchemist is: a person who transforms or creates something through a seemingly magical process.

When someone has the ability to help you to weave your written words into something that touches others, then that is alchemy. You may have written a beautifully crafted piece or you might have written something you feel is quite average. You read it to Paul and he helps you to transport it into a living memory…there is a chemical reaction that happens when he highlights to you that those words need to come from your heart space as if they were new thoughts to you. He teaches you how to pause, as if there is a new idea, a new memory and bring it to life. That sense of making your words come “alive” can bring depth, range and meaning to others in the way you present them. You can have the most amazing speaking voice….but if you have not had the training that Paul offers…..or have had speech training…there is no way that you can deliver them in a way that makes your words have “life”. He helps you to add colour, strength and majesty to your words. Having had the hardest task of conducting a funeral for a dear, dear friend, I can truthfully say that without Paul’s help and guidance, I would not have been able to do so and honour her with anchorage and trust that my voice would be heard, and my delivery would be authentic. As I said….Paul is an alchemist. I thank my lucky stars for his training.
Kay Manby

I was thrilled with my voice coaching with Paul. I had a very confused accent, a mixture of Scottish, English and a posh telephone voice used only at work! When we started to practise scripts, my breathing and inflection had a lot to be desired… Thankfully, Paul, with his vast experience helped me craft all my accents into one.
He shared how to improve my word inflection, and helped me understand my breathing. Indeed, now when I hear my voice, rather than cringe, I’m amazed that it sounds quite warm and engaging.

Paul helped me with writing in such a way I now adapt my scripts so that I communicate with everyone individually as I deliver my scripts. I’m still working on my eye-contact, this comes as part of the training and has been quite a challenge for me. Like all life skills, practice, practice and then some more practice can only help soften and sharpen these amazing skills.

I’m still a work in progress, but delighted with how my voice coaching has given me a new found confidence for public speaking.
Jacquie Wilson, The Turquoise Celebrant

I found the vocal training aspect of my Heart Led Celebrant training far more difficult than I anticipated. As an experienced and confident public speaker, I was challenged and guided to make my delivery more authentic and sensitive.  Paul was always supportive and encouraging. He offered me constructive advice and modelled his expectations to me. His methods, including breathing technique, where to focus, what experiences to draw on etc, are something that I will refer to frequently as I go on to deliver a range of ceremonies.
Juliet Golding

Paul’s voice training sessions were always something I looked forward to attending. His wealth of experience around how to listen to, analyse, and work on improving the sound of my voice are second to none.

I learned how best to breathe and how to use feelings to improve the delivery of my ceremonies. His use of humour and anecdotes along with the pace of the sessions all enabled me to understand and absorb fully the learning points. At the beginning of my training, I felt nervous and self-conscious about performing but his constructive analysis of my voice and kind manner have made me more relaxed about speaking in front of a group of strangers.

Paul has built confidence in me which I am so grateful for, I highly recommend training with him.
Aileen Palmer

The voice training provided by Paul has been an interesting and thought-provoking process. My initial contact with Paul was very positive. With efficiency, Paul set the standard straight away. Emails responded to quickly and acknowledgement of course fees being received set the bedrock of trust.

The new knowledge I received: – how the voice works; awareness; warming up; watching and listening to the professionals; lifting the words from the page and managing the nerves. An invaluable experience!
I keep in touch with Paul in monthly celebrant Zoom meetings and he continues to give top tips and model techniques using his own voice.

Before I started on my Celebrant journey, I hadn’t actually given much thought to the sound of my voice, but during my training, I discovered just how important a tool the voice is – and Paul helped me to hone that tool, to improve my performance AND my confidence.

Paul’s knowledge and professionalism is excellent- he patiently guides, giving feedback at every stage, and he does so with a sense of fun. We laughed a lot, which helped to settle my nerves; but we also explored the effects that emotion has on the voice.

As a Funeral Celebrant, there are many times when tears and emotion can affect my voice. Paul gently taught me how to harness that emotion to actually improve my performance, rather than detracting from it.

Paul is generous with his time, and he is always willing to help with ongoing development- I had some problems with breathing last year, and Paul guided me through the exercises which helped me to overcome the issue.

Paul is quite simply a great coach, and a thoroughly nice guy!

Your voice and style of presentation are so important in delivering a good ceremony as a life celebrant, helping people to mark the milestones in their lives. I enjoyed online voice coaching sessions with Paul as part of my Heart-led Ceremonies celebrant training – it was invaluable. With his wealth of experience, Paul really helps to guide you to get the most from your voice and how to use it to its best to create beautiful ceremonies, with stories well told. Lots of helpful tips, exercises and practical advice to enable you to bring your carefully crafted words to life in a clear and natural manner.
Anne Armstrong

Paul immediately put me at ease and made me feel comfortable even though I personally felt very new to the work and process. His playful and relaxed way of engaging made the sessions really enjoyable and made any exercises feel accessible and not intimidating. He tailored the session to my specific requests and needs, making it extremely helpful as it personally addressed what I most needed to attend to most at that time. I would readily book more sessions with Paul for any areas I wish to further hone and develop and would highly recommend him to anyone wanting to learn how to better communicate and engage with public speaking.

Lynda Gibson

Paul is a brilliant teacher and instructor. I really enjoyed working with him for my voice training as part of the Heart-led celebrant training programme.

Paul is a really engaging teacher; he is very empathetic, intuitive and understanding. I learned a lot from my sessions about voice work and all aspects of projection and protecting the voice. I found it really easy to have a conversation with him, about the voice or anything else for that matter! It was great to learn in such a fun and relaxed way.


I am looking forward to working with Paul again.

Josie Perry


Heart-led Celebrants