If you can't find the answer to your question here, please contact one of the Executive Team Members listed on the CANZ Management page.

1. What ceremonies can a Celebrant perform other than marriages?

See the extensive list found on the Celebrants Tab, What do Celebrants Do?

Weddings, Civil Unions, Funerals, Name Giving and any other appropriate ceremonies a Celebrant may be asked to perform.

2. What ceremonies must a Celebrant be legally registered for?

Marriages and Civil Unions.  Separate pieces of legislation govern the registration of these celebrants, so a particular celebrant may be registered for civil unions and/or weddings

To apply for registration refer to your local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) or refer to their website for further information: www.dia.govt.nz

3. Can anyone become a Celebrant?

Yes, however to officiate at weddings or civil unions you must be registered with BDM - see above.

4. Where is training available?

  • The Celebrant School is New Zealand's only training provider of comprehensive celebrancy training.
  • Their Certificate in Celebrant Studies successfully incorporates both theory and practice, with carefully-paced development of the knowledge and skills required in a contemporary celebrant and/or ritual maker. The programme has been successfully operating for nineteen years and provides competent, in-depth celebrant training for ceremonies marking birth, marriage, death and everything between.

    Celebrant School programmes are designed and taught by passionate and experienced Kiwi celebrants for the New Zealand community. The teachers, two of whom are foundation members of the Celebrants' Association of New Zealand Inc (CANZ), have all made significant contributions to the development of celebrancy in New Zealand and have served on the CANZ National Executive.

    With its commitment to excellence, the Celebrant School ensures that trained celebrants create unique, vibrant and meaningful ceremonies reflecting the needs, spirituality and cultural context of the people with whom they work.

    For more information visit www.celebrant.school.nz

NB: The Celebrant School is a separate organisation and is neither endorsed nor not endorsed by CANZ

  • CANZ Conferences and Education Forum Meetings
    Held annually, both are available to all members.  These events provide ongoing training programmes and development.
  • CANZ Branch Meetings
    Regular regional meetings provide networking and development opportunities.

Please note: Undertaking such training programmes is not a guarantee to becoming a registered Marriage or Civil Union Celebrant. Please refer to your local BDM for further information

5. Where can ceremonies be performed?  Are there any time constraints for venue restrictions?

Ceremonies can be performed anywhere at anytime.  In some public places/parks, the local authority requires advance bookings and/or a fee.

6. Thinking of getting married?  Here are some steps in the process.

(a)   Choose the date and wedding venue plus the wedding reception venue, if a different locality

(b)   Choose the Marriage Celebrant - some Celebrants require a deposit at the first meeting

(c)   Consider the florist, photographer, transportation, clothing, cake, entertainment

(d)   Set the date and attend the first interview at which the initial planning process will begin and the Celebrant will provide the necessary information

(e)   Apply for the marriage licence from the local office of BDM - the form needed for this can be downloaded from the website (www.dia.govt.nz).  A maximum of three days is the timeframe in which to do this.  The licence is valid for three months.

(f)   At the second interview bring all documentation and the fee to the Celebrant. At this meeting the ceremony will be finalised

(g)   A rehearsal, if required, may be held a few days prior to the ceremony

(h)   Once the licence is issued, the ceremony can take place regardless of objections - but only at the place/s named on the licence.  The only exception is if an objector provides a caveat from a District Court judge.

7. Must I choose a local Celebrant?

No, however we do refer you to our Membership List where you can access Celebrants by name or region on this website.

8. Define a secular ceremony

This is a ceremony that is non-religious.

9. Can a Civil or Marriage Celebrant conduct a religious ceremony?

Yes, if the Celebrant agrees.

10. Do I need permission to be married?  If so, from whom?

Sixteen years of age is the minimum legal age for marriage. Parental consent or a District Court order is required if either of the couple is under the age of eighteen years. Permission to marry is confirmed via the issue of a marriage licence.

11.  What are the implications of the changes to the Marriage Amendment Act passed in May 2013?

Click here for the information provided on the BDM site.

12. Define the framework for a Marriage or Civil Union ceremony.

Legal Ceremony Requirements

The legal requirements are:


  • The marriage must be performed in the presence of a Registered Marriage or Civil Union Celebrant or Registrar of Marriages at one of the places specified on the marriage licence.
  • The full legal names of both parties to the marriage must be stated somewhere in the ceremony.
  • The marriage must be performed in the presence of at least two witnesses; and
  • During the ceremony, and before at least two witnesses, each party must say the words "I AB take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband" or words to similar effect.
  • Both parties, witnesses and Marriage Celebrant/Registrar sign the registration forms


Both parties must sign the registration forms using their pre-married signatures according to their names on the Marriage Licence. For example, if the bride is assuming the groom's surname on marriage, the bride must sign the registration forms using her usual signature prior to marriage.

Children may act as witnesses if they understand the importance of the part they take in the recording of the marriage and can demonstrate that understanding in court if later required to do so.

The Celebrant is responsible for returning the Copy of Particulars document to the BDM office it was sent from and giving the other copy to the couple. (Both are so marked)

Suggested Framework for a Marriage Ceremony

Welcome & Introduction perhaps starting with a poem, quote or short reading


  • Meaning of marriage and couple's story
  • Giving Away or Presentation of the Bride (and Groom) - e.g. "Who gives this woman in marriage to this man?" Parents/Family member/Friend
  • Declaration of Intent (often called the Asking) if chosen
  • Declaration of support by family and friends if chosen
  • Exchange of Vows between Bride and Groom
  • Giving of Rings if applicable or any other token or symbol if applicable
  • Pronouncement
  • Signing of the legal documents - two witnesses
  • Conclusion/Presentation of couple




  • Readings
  • Blessings
  • Poems or Prayer
  • Appropriate cultural traditions/rituals such as candle lighting or hand-fasting, can also be included throughout the ceremony as the couple so chooses and these can be undertaken by family members or friends.
  • Relevant notices can also be given regarding photographs, reception etc.