Choosing a Funeral Conductor or Officiant in Advance

The role of the conductor or officiant is to preside over the funeral or memorial service.

If the service will be held in a religious place of worship, the leader there will likely conduct the service. If you are planning a memorial service at another location, you can choose anyone you like to lead the service.

The role of the conductor or officiant

Depending on the type of service you want to have, the role of the officiant may vary. For example, if you want to have a traditional religious funeral or memorial serivce, you will probably want a religious leader who is familiar with your religious customs to lead the service, and he or she will perform the service according to tradition. If you want to have a home funeral, however, you might like to have a family member or close friend lead the service, and he or she can choose to organize a less traditional service.

The funeral conductor or officiant is traditionally responsible for:

  • Organizing the service, including determining the order of the service elements 
  • Delivering a eulogy
  • Saying prayers, hymns, or other readings
  • Inviting attendees to any events after the funeral service (such as a burial or entombment at a cemetery, scattering of cremated remains, or reception)
  • Generally leading the service

How to choose a conductor or officiant

A funeral can be conducted by whomever you choose. If the funeral or memorial service will be held in a religious place of worship, the clergy there can lead the service. If the funeral or memorial service will be held in a funeral home, the director of the funeral home can lead the service, you can bring in a clergy member to lead the service, or someone else—such as a friend or family member—can officiate. If you'll be having a memorial service at a venue of your choosing, you can ask anyone you like to officiate.

If you will be asking someone other than a trained religious leader to officiate your service, consider choosing someone who you believe will be able to organize and conduct a meaningful service at a difficult emotional time. Many people who are very close to you may not be able to confidently speak publicly or organize a funeral or memorial service if they are overwhelmed by grief. That said, if you have time and energy to plan in advance, you might consider working with the person you'd like to officiate the service to help him or her plan the service, so that when the time comes there will be less stress around planning the event.

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