Personalizing Services

We know that every family we serve is unique, and we strive to make each service a personal tribute to the life that has been lived. We provide a wide variety of choices that will help fulfill a family's wishes, from a traditional funeral to a personalized service that celebrates a loved one's hobbies and interests.

The following are ideas that you may use to personalize a service:

  • photographic collages 

  • dove release- for millenia the dove has been the symbol of the human soul.  These elegant birds leap into the sky with energy and exuberance. 

  • displays of personal memorabilia, such as awards, trophies, or favorite pastime items, such as garden tools

  • the writing of personal notes by family and friends during the service

  • service folders & registry books that reflect personal style and interests 

  • candle ceremony- a lit candle is symbolic of the human soul and of God's eternal presence, it is the light of Christ. Every attendee is given a white tapered candle with a wax shield. Semian Funeral Directors can  easily incorporate a candle ceremony into just about any farewell service.  

  • music selections from our extensive library

  • live musicians

  • special customs particular to different faiths, ethnic groups, and fraternal organizations

  • displays of uniforms and equipment for government employees

  • have motorcycles in the procession for a motorcycle enthusiast or have a cowboy's horse lead the  procession for a cowboy 

  • bagpiper- for many the stirring sound of bagpipes highlights the reverent and sacred nature of a funeral.

Our funeral directors are committed to helping you create a special tribute to your loved one that will honor a life well-lived. We encourage you to share your ideas, customs and wishes with us.


Certified Funeral Celebrants

A Certified Funeral Celebrant is specifically trained to design a funeral service that is personalized to reflect the personality and life-style of the deceased. By incorporating those unique stories, songs, and experiences that defined the loved one, they seek to meet the needs of families they serve during their time of loss. Both Tamara Semian and John Souter are both certified Funeral Celebrants having received their certification in September 2008.

Pictured to the right is John Souter, CFSP, Author and In-Sight Books, Inc., President, Doug Manning, and Tamara Semian, on completion of Certified Funeral Celebrant Program. 

Celebrant Q & A

A Celebrant is a person who seeks to meet the needs of families during their time of loss. They serve by providing a funeral service that is personalized to reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased. 

What Does a Celebrant Offer?

  • The Celebrant offers an alternative to a service provided by a clergy person for those families who are not affiliated with a church or who do not wish to have a traditional religious funeral service.
  • The Celebrant has been specifically trained to design a service that is completely personal, incorporating those unique stories, songs, and experiences that defined the loved one. 
  • The Celebrant will schedule a special “Family Time” meeting when the family can share memories, anecdotes and defining moments in the loved one’s life. The essence of the service will be based upon the remembrances of the family, and family and friends will be encouraged to participate. 
  • The Celebrant has developed a library of resources available for readings, music, ceremonies, and personal touches. He/She will consult with the family to help them choose the different parts of the service that reflect their loved one.
  • The Celebrant is bound by a Code of Ethics for complete confidentiality in all dealings with the family. 

Where does a family find a Celebrant?

Semian Funeral Directors, John Souter and Tamara Semian are Certified Celebrants. 

Why use a Certified Celebrant?

The training for Celebrants, as established by In-Sight Institute, seeks to provide the most comprehensive and sensitive training available for people wishing to develop this as a profession or to add to their current job description. It is important that a family knows that they are being served by someone who understands the process and is prepared to offer the very best funeral possible. 

What Does it Cost?

The Celebrant fee is usually higher than the fees charged by clergy for performing a funeral in a specific area. This can range widely across the country from $200 to over $800 depending on type of service, location, travel and other expenses. Your Celebrant will spend approximately 10 hours in preparation for a memorial service or funeral, as well as the expenses of training and maintaining a resource library. You can discuss fees with the Celebrant or the Funeral Director. 

Sending Acknowledgements

No longer are personal letters expected by relatives, friends and acquaintances in return for expressions of sympathy. In most cases a signed acknowledgment or thank you card is sufficient to say "thanks" for flowers, mass cards, charitable donations and personal services.

For your convenience, we provide personalized acknowledgment cards as part of our Funeral Service Packages. Acknowledgments should be sent within two weeks following the date of death or funeral service. If a more personal touch is desired, then a few words can be written on the card with reference to the flowers sent, donation made or services rendered. These words can often make the recipient feel that your thanks are as personal as if they were expressed verbally.

We have developed the following suggestions to assist you in personalizing your acknowledgments in responding to the various expressions of sympathy. These are only samples so you should feel free to change any wording to fit your particular situation.

Clergy: You may want to send a personal note thanking them for their spiritual guidance and service conducted. 

Dear Fr. Phil, 
My husband and I would like to thank you for the consolation you gave us. Your kind words during the Funeral Mass for Mom was very comforting. 

Flowers: A personal message may be written on the acknowledgment card. The note can be customized depending upon if they were sent by an individual, group of people or an organization.

Dear George, 
The roses you sent to the funeral service for Mom were beautiful. 

To Everyone at Prudential Financial Center, 
The beautiful Peace Lily you sent for John’s viewing and Mass was such a touching gesture. I know how much you all meant to him at work. 

Spiritual Bouquets, Cards & Letters: Replies may be short and written on the acknowledgment card.

Dear Cheryl, 
Thank you for your kind words of sympathy... it's so nice, to have friends like you. 

Charitable Donations & Masses: A brief note referencing the organization the donation was sent to personalizes the response.

Dear Fred & Marge, 
Thank you for the generous contribution to the American Cancer Society in memory of our brother. Donations such as yours will no doubt assist in finding a cure some day. 

Dear Aunt Diane, 
Your Mass offering in memory of mom to St. John the Baptist Church was such a meaningful and spiritual gesture. It will give our family much comfort during the coming months. 

Individuals Who Volunteer Other Services: A note acknowledging the service is all that is needed.

Dear Debbie, 
Thank so much for the delicious pan of Lasagna you brought over to the house. It was greatly appreciated. 

To Members of St. Mary’s Bereavement Committee, 
The after funeral luncheon you prepared and served for Mom’s funeral was such a gracious gesture and the food was delicious. Many of our family and friends could not believe the buffet you prepared for us. May God bless you all. 

Dear Chris, 
Thank you for house sitting during Lillian’s funeral service. Having you there gave our family much peace-of-mind. Thank you again for caring.