An officiant is someone who leads a funeral or memorial service by serving as a "master of ceremony."
They help to keep the service's program organized and moving forward so that all speeches, religious customs, and ceremonies have been taken care of.
Anyone can serve as an officiant, though the role is usually filled by a family member, friend, religious leader, or funeral director.
Once the surviving family has chosen a person to be the officiant, it's important to speak with them about what's needed, including any specific concerns or requests.
Good to Know A member of the clergy may not require payment to speak, but it can be customary to provide them with a donation, known as an honorarium. The amount is typically chosen by the surviving family.
Important If the service is organized by a funeral home, then the honorarium may be included in the price of their services. Check with the funeral director and your contract to determine what's included.
What do officiants do during a funeral service?
Officiants lead the funeral service ceremony by speaking first and welcoming everyone to the gathering.
Additionally, they will:
- Introduce themselves and their relationship with the deceased
- Talk about the deceased or give a eulogy
- Introduce other speakers
- Provide information about additional services or events after the funeral
- Lead attendees in prayer or song, depending upon the level of religious affiliation
Religious leaders that often serve as officiants
There are many kinds of religious leaders who may be available to officiate a funeral.
Some examples of religious leaders who officiate funerals are:
- Christian - Pastor
- Catholic - Priest or Deacon
- Jewish - Rabbi
- Muslim - Imam
- Buddhist - Monk or family member
- Hindu - Priest or family member
- Orthodox Christian - Priest
- Jehovah's Witness - Elder
- Mormon - Bishop
- Other religions and faiths - Consult with a member of that faith
The term “clergy” is used broadly to refer to religious leaders across many different denominations and faiths.
When seeking someone to assist with a funeral service, contact local religious organizations to learn about the process and check availability.