What skills are required to be a celebrant?

Contemporary celebrants need to be able to design and deliver personalised ceremonies for all occasions. This requires advanced communication skills to liaise with clients, listen, and help to clarify the brief. Excellent writing skills are necessary, as are presentation skills to deliver the final ceremony. As most celebrants are self-employed, basic office management skills are also necessary. Celebrants are people-oriented, and need to have compassion, tolerance, and to be accepting and accommodating of difference.  They work with people in times of joy and sadness, so need to be self-aware and to understand their own relationship with certain emotional triggers.  Our training is designed to address all these areas in a supportive, participative learning environment. Experienced adult educators have commended our programme for its innovative and effective design which enables students to develop all the necessary skills progressively through the modules.

Why should I bother to train when it isn’t compulsory?

Many people are shocked to discover that training is not compulsory. Any ceremony is a significant event and clients deserve assurance that their chosen celebrant knows what they are doing. There is probably no other industry where anyone can offer their services to the public by just claiming to be sufficiently skilled. The desire for a professional standard for celebrancy was the reason the Certificate in Celebrant Studies was founded, here in New Zealand, over 20 years ago – another first in the world for our small country!   The students who are attracted to our training all share the desire to be professional in their approach, and confident that they have the necessary knowledge and skills before they “practise” on the public! Many are surprised to discover the complexities that they hadn’t appreciated before they started their training. We do cover the “what-ifs”.

Is this training only face-to-face or is it available on-line?

All our modules are currently run face-to-face, usually on two consecutive weekends (unless advised otherwise) and there is a really good reason for this.  The face-to-face learning environment better reflects the nature of celebrant work, which regardless of ceremony type, involves building relationships – whether it be meeting clients, planning a wedding, funeral or other ceremony, or delivering it to an audience. We enable students to practise in a real-life setting. Factual aspects, such as the legalities of wedding ceremonies, can be studied on-line, and we do have a self-completed on-line assignment for this and other practical knowledge. However, the personal skills are much more demanding and are refined much more effectively when explored interactively in a group learning setting. Most students really value the network that forms with like-minded celebrants during their training. This is a benefit as you gain an instant referral and support network!

How quickly can I complete this qualification?

We offer each module several times throughout the year and at three different locations. Students often enjoy continuing with the peers they meet on their first module. However, in reality, everyone has different time commitments. We recommend you schedule your modules to fit with your existing work, family and other activities. There is an assignment to complete after each module, and this needs to be passed before you progress to the next.  It is advisable to have time between modules to allow you to review and integrate your learning.  If you are serious about being the best celebrant you can be, respect your training as a professional commitment. Having said that, allow a minimum of three months for the Certificate, but recognise most people spread the modules throughout a year (or more).

If I do this training does that mean I’m then a registered Celebrant for weddings?

No – the appointment process for marriage celebrants is completely separate. It is administered by Births Death and Marriages, Certification, Authentication and Translations (BDMCAT) which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs. Doing this training will equip you with the skills and confidence you need to offer marriage and civil union ceremonies to the public. You will learn both the legal aspects and the ceremonial aspects, which together create the complete, legal and usually personalised ceremony that we recognise in Aotearoa-New Zealand.  Information about the registration process for marriage and civil union celebrants is on this link to the BDMCAT website https://www.govt.nz/organisations/births-deaths-and-marriages/information-for-marriage-celebrants/  Whilst BDMCAT tests understanding of the legal requirements for weddings and civil unions as part of the registration process, they do not prepare celebrants for their ceremonial involvement – they are happy to leave this to us!

Do celebrants need to be registered to conduct funerals?

In New Zealand, celebrants only need to be registered by the Government to conduct weddings and civil unions.  This is not the case in Australia and other countries, where the legislation includes different requirements. This is what makes it essential that any training undertaken is New Zealand-based and designed with an understanding of our unique population composition, laws, and context.

What time commitment is involved in completing each Celebrant School module?

Each module will involve the four full days at the venue, and assignments to be completed within and/or before and after the course. You need to allow time between the weekends and immediately following the final weekend to ensure you can complete the assignments in the timeframe required.  Whilst different modules have different assignment specifications, these are clearly outlined. One of the assignments in each module will involve creating an original ceremony. Where there is a precourse assignment, this will be explained in the Welcome letter you receive six weeks before the course commences and upon full payment of your fees.

Can I do the training over several years? Is there a requirement to complete by a certain date?

There is no time limit for completion of the Certificate  qualification. You can pace your training to what suits your life. Some celebrants undertake the Certificate programme because they have a particular focus in mind eg conducting weddings. They may later find they are asked to do funerals, and so return after a period of years to upskill on funeral celebrancy. Similarly our Transitions Through Change and Crisis is an advanced paper which may be completed at a later stage if you have done two previous modules.

What is the difference between the Certificate and the Diploma?

The Certificate requires successful completion of three modules, two of which are compulsory. Students who complete an additional two modules are awarded the Diploma in Celebrant Studies in acknowledgement of the extra commitment they make to broadening and deepening their learning. This option has been available for students commencing their training since 2016.

How often, and where, do you offer courses?

From 2020 we are increasingly teaching on-line with intensive training days held in  Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This combination makes access to comprehensive,  celebrant training easier wherever you live in New Zealand, and we provide full support to help out students achieve high standards.   We have graduates in all parts of the country and are very proud of this regional spread.  The full range of courses and dates are on this link www.celebrant.school.nz

Why should I choose The Celebrant School over other training providers?

The Celebrant School is the longest-established and most respected provider of celebrant training in New Zealand. Our teachers are all experienced celebrants who have made a significant contribution to the development of ceremony in New Zealand. Our programmes have been offered for over 20 years and many of New Zealand’s top celebrants trained with us.  Whereas you can pick up various aspects of celebrancy piecemeal through pick-and-mix courses, we pride ourselves on offering a professionally-designed, fully comprehensive, in-depth programme. The integrated design of our qualifications enables students to staircase from one module to the next – building skills and confidence successively. The outcome is a professional and fully-competent celebrant!

Why are there compulsory courses?

The programme has been designed to cover both the breadth and depth of contemporary ceremony in a carefully planned way. This is comprehensive training and some courses have pre-requisites to ensure that students have developed the competencies they need before progressing. Sometimes people ask about existing skills and we certainly do attract some very accomplished students! However, we want those skills to be explored in, and applied to, the context of celebrancy. Students appreciate this as they move through the programme and recognise the progress they have made. Feel free to talk to us – or past graduates.

Can I fail this course?

Yes. We actively support our students to reach the required standard of performance, and we give detailed written feedback when work meets the standards expected, and when and how it does not. Incorporating the feedback into a revised ceremony is an important step in integrating the learning. Most students appreciate this process and do achieve the desired standard, but some do not.  Students are always alerted when they have one last opportunity to submit their final assignment and demonstrate that the learning outcomes have been achieved.  When this assignment is marked, they are awarded a pass or fail.

Anything else?

If your questions have not been answered, you are welcome to telephone our Director, Kathrine Fraser on 09-6232399 or email kathrine@celebrant.school.nz