Ask A Celebrant - CCN Blog

This blog is updated by passionate celebrants. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss the latest from Civil Celebrations Network - CCN.

More CCN Blog posts can be found in the Blog Categories to the right.

Celebrating family members

Celebrating family

We have birthdays, mother's day and father's day... but what about everybody else in our family?  When do we celebrate them?

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It's Time

It's Time!

Spring equinox 23rd September 2017

It's officially spring....
the flowers are blooming...
 new life is emerging....

Photo courtesy of The French Click

IT'S TIME to book your celebrant

If you are planning on getting married anytime in the next eighteen months (that’s how long your NOIM is valid for) then call and book your celebrant soon and get that paperwork done.

You can still get married this spring if you're quick, the Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form must be lodged with your celebrant one month before the ceremony; plenty of time still for a November wedding.

Photo courtesy of The French Click

IT'S TIME to plan your summer celebrations

Clean up the garden, pack away the winter clothes, and make your bookings for festivals, concerts, holidays, backyard BBQs and beach weddings.

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Photo courtesy of The French Click 

IT'S TIME to have your say on marriage equality

Interesting Fact from Wikipedia: With several countries revising their marriage laws to recognise same-sex couples in the 21st century, all major English dictionaries have revised their definition of the word marriage to either drop gender specifications or supplement them with secondary definitions to include gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions.  The Oxford English Dictionary has recognised same-sex marriage since 2000. 

 Haven't Voted Yet?
Fill in and post your Vote as soon as possible and if you would like more information visit

CCN's Marriage Equality section. 

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Remember not to add anything other than the response required (i.e. no comments, no glitter, etc) or your survey response could be invalid.

If you’ve lost or damaged your ballot, you can request a new one from the Australian Bureau of Statistics here any time before October 20th.

IT'S TIME to begin planning the final celebration

If you plan on living your life to the end, then you can start by talking to a celebrant about recording ‘your life story’ or filling in those important documents such as: Advance Health Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Guardianship, a valid Will (who gets what) and emotional will (words of love and wisdom)

Don’t leave it to your family to make difficult decisions at an emotional time, have the conversation now.


Passage of Time

Sadness passes with time 
A hollow field blanketed with snow 
Soon fills with swaying blooms A darkened sky suddenly illuminates            
A weary traveller’s way 
And Spring follows a Winter’s road 
Which butterflies array 
Somewhere, somehow, shadows 
Give way to sunbeams 
Life’s fabric is painted with promised purpose 
And each day new freshness springs 
Laughter envelops an empty room 
And a broken heart sings 
With an abandonment of joy 
As it finally kisses the dawn 
Of a bright new day!

Little Pebbles and Stepping Stones, Compositions from the heart by Ruth Van Gramberg - 2005

For more information on any of the above or to contact a Celebrant near you visit
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Turning 18 is a really big deal!

Turning 18 is a big deal!   

It not only marks your transition into adulthood, but there are quite a few responsibilities that go along with it.  Unfortunately you can’t pick and choose which ones you want to go along with, so luckily most of the things you can do now you’re 18 would be considered ‘perks’ - things that you’ve been waiting years to be able to do… here’s just a small list of 16 to get you started.

Now that you’re 18, you can:
  1. Enrol to vote.  You can now be a part of adult society and participate in elections - make sure you are enrolled so you can have your say. (note: you must be an Australian citizen to do this)
  1. Donate blood.  How awesome would you feel knowing that you helped to save somebody’s life?
  1. Buy and drink alcohol.  Go easy.  Remember, just because you CAN buy all the alcohol, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. 
  1. Go to adult jail. The is where the responsibility part comes in.  If you do something illegal when you’re 18 - you’ll be tried as an adult.
  1. Be on a jury. This is where you get to, along with your adult peers, get to decide on the fate of somebody else’s illegal activities.
  1. Enlist in the forces.  Army, Navy, Air Force… they want you for a new recruit.
  1. Play the lottery.  If you’re super lucky, you might win back the $12.85 that you spent on the ticket.
  1. Sign a lease agreement. This means that you can legally move out into your own place.  Think independence.  Think freedom.  Think paying your own bills.
  1. Work more hours.  Legally there are no more age restrictions on the amount of hours you can work.  You’re going to need to do this if you’re planning on moving out into your own place.


  1. Open your own bank account.  Previously your bank accounts would have been attached to a parent/guardian account.  You’re on your own now.
  1. Apply for a credit card.  You generally have to have worked for a bit and have a steady address, but nevertheless, you are legally allowed to apply.
  1. Buy your own car.  You don’t need Mum and Dad’s permission anymore.
  1. Adopt a child.  This might be something that you want to give a bit of thought to, but  if it’s something that you think you can handle - you’re legally allowed to do it.
  1. Change your name.  Have you always despised the name that your parents gave you?  Well, now is your chance to do away with it and choose your own name.
  1. Be a legal witness at a marriage ceremony.  All you have to do is listen to the ceremony, watch the bride and groom sign the document and then sign them yourself.
  1. Get married.  You can now choose to marry the person you love as long as:
  1. they are also 18+
  2. they are the opposite gender to yourself
  3. they are in agreement to enter into the marriage with you
  4. you have given at least one month notice to your celebrant
  5. you are not directly related to the person you want to marry


There are definitely some bonuses to turning 18, but I think you’ll agree that there are also some big responsibilities.  Now you’re an adult you need to think carefully about every decision that you make and be aware of the consequences that only you will face because of them.

I think we can all agree that turning 18 is a really big deal and should be celebrated.

Talk to your local CCN Celebrant for some ideas on what you could do to celebrate.

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Celebrating New Beginnings

Celebrating New Beginnings

Think about all the times in your life when you've started something new:
School, university, work, moved house, bought a house, moved in with a partner, moved towns, cities, states and countries, a new project, marriage, children... the list goes on.  These are major transitions in our lives and yet we only choose to celebrate a few by doing something really special.

Here are some ideas of life transitions that you might want to celebrate:

We have birthdays pretty much down pat because we've had a lot of practice, with them coming around annually. Think about whether a special birthday such as "the big 0s" deserve more of a sense of occasion.

Photo: Pixabay

New Baby:

There is much to celebrate with a new baby on the way, but try not forget the mother.  A Blessingway is a wonderful way to celebrate and support the mother before the birth;  Most of us would be familiar with a Baby Shower, where family and friends help the parents prepare for the baby in a practical way by giving gifts that the mother and baby can use once the baby arrives; A Naming Ceremony, welcoming your new baby into their world is an important ceremony for family and community.

Photo: Pixabay

Adopted child:
When you adopt a child, both your worlds are about to look very different.  Whether a baby or an older child, you could have a Welcoming Ceremony, formally welcoming them into their new home and introducing them to their new extended family members.  Some families continue to celebrate "Family Day" each year since it is a very special anniversary.

Photo: Pixabay

Coming Out:
Sometimes when a young person or an adult comes out as LGBTIQ, they are taking on a new public identity.  This is a meaningful time when the person who is coming out can introduce themselves to family and friends as the person they want to be and in return, receive the love and support they may need.  You could include a Naming Ceremony if they have chosen a new name or you create something symbolic as a memory of the day.


A New House:
Buying a new house is a pretty momentous event in most people's lives, especially with the housing prices today - so why not celebrate!  You would have worked hard in order to achieve this goal, so let's make something of it.  A house warming party is the most obvious go-to, but you could also have a House Blessing - wishing only good things to walk through the door.

Photo: Pixabay

Getting into Uni:
There is a bit of hard work that goes into securing a place at university and that effort should be celebrated.  Give your parents or loved ones the opportunity to let you know how proud they are of you and you should accept the accolades to show how proud you are of yourself.  

Photo: Pixabay

A New Job:
This is always exciting and has generally taken a lot of work to get you to that stage.  Working up through the ranks, studying, going through a difficult interview process - once you make it out the end with the job in your hot little hands - it's time to celebrate!

Photo: Pixabay

This is a time for your work colleagues to celebrate all that you have contributed over the years, but it's also a time for you to thank those who worked along side you as well as your family who may have supported you throughout your working life.... and it's a time for you to look back over your working career and feel very proud of all that you have achieved.

Photo: iStock

A New Pet
A new pet is an welcomed addition to your life.  Just like welcoming a new baby, it changes everything.  You will need to have a new routine, new house rules, more walking and exercising, but you will also receive unconditional love and companionship and no doubt your heart will burst with how lovely your new pet is.  That, right there, is worth celebrating and just because your pet is not human, it doesn't mean they won't appreciate the attention.

Photo: Shell Brown

This is Your Life:
You don't need to be dead or dying for people to celebrate your life.  Every life is spectacular and should be celebrated - a "This is Your Life" Ceremony is your opportunity to celebrate your life in the way that you want, surrounded by the people you love whilst you're still alive to enjoy it.

Photo: Holstee Manifesto

Celebrants are experts at helping people make their celebrations really special, adding a sense of occasion to any gathering.  
Talk to a CCN Celebrant today about helping you to create the perfect celebration - no matter what stage of life you're up to.

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How to add Ceremony to any Celebration

If  you think about it, there is always an element of formality to most events.   

Normally you think of events like weddings, funerals and naming days, but there are way more events in our lives where we can add ceremony.

Ceremonial aspects of events shouldn’t be underestimated in importance. They include opening and closing speeches, music, playing of national anthems, the reciting of special words, presentation of awards and flowers, flag raising, present giving and blowing out of candles.

While it’s not absolutely necessary to add ceremony to your party or event, it does give it meaning and clarification. 

A ceremony can add greatly to the emotion, symbolism and entertainment value of the event and whilst you're at it - why not make it a Party with a Purpose 

One great way to make sure that your event has a beautiful and meaningful ceremony is to engage a CCN Celebrant.  If fact, why not come together with family members or other guests and make your CCN Celebrant your gift.


So, how do you add ceremony to personal events?  I’m glad you asked!

We’re so used to having or going to birthday parties where you play games and eat as much sugar as you little body can handle.  Then as grown ups the party turns into drinking as much as you can and buying a present that we didn’t put much thought into.  So how are we actually celebrating the birthday person? 



What about a "This is your life" theme? Invite friends and family to share a story or express their feelings;  create a book of memories that the guests have contributed to with photos and tales of the person you are honouring; ask all the guests to write an ode to the birthday girl/boy celebrating what they love about them.  Work together with other guests to hire a celebrant to present an awesome ceremony that befits your friend.

This is such a transitional time in a person’s life.  They have just worked through 6 or 12 or 16+ years of study to be where they are now standing with certificate/diploma/degree/PhD in hand.  Each step of the way should be celebrated for the hard slog already done and to help motivate for the next steps ahead. 



Why not organise a visual gallery of the students' work?  Perhaps a ceremony whereby graduating students are paired with younger students interested in the same field as mentors? You could have teachers, parents and other educators let students know what a great effort they’ve put in whilst giving the students the opportunity to share how proud they are of themselves, and to thank their educators.

Anniversaries pass every year, sometimes unnoticed, but each year is a milestone in your relationship and it is a great time to reaffirm your feelings for each other.  Maybe this doesn’t need to be a big fanfare every year and maybe for you a private, reflective ceremony is all you need…. but then again - why not celebrate in style every year with a ceremony that says “Hey - look what we did! Again!”



Relive your marriage ceremony - repeating your original vows or creating new ones each year as you grow as a couple - also a great excuse for a catch up with your bridal party; Celebrate something different about you as a couple each year - first year: honour your shared love of writing with a poetry infused ceremony; Second year: Celebrate your love of travel with a destination ceremony, you get the idea…



(just a little tip:  I know some lovely CCN celebrants who would jump at the chance to perform your ceremony in Fiji!)

When you receive a promotion at work, there is sometimes a ceremony and presentation with bosses and work colleagues which is a great acknowledgement of your hard work and achievement, but there is nothing stopping you from having your own ceremonial event because it is a reason to celebrate.  



Perhaps before you crack the bottle of champas, you could make a speech thanking and giving your own awards to the people who helped you get where are today.  Gracious, thoughtful and appreciated.

New home
You’ve saved, you’ve scrimped and you’ve gone without, but now you have the keys to your brand new pad. You’ve organised a housewarming and you can’t wait to crack open a beer and celebrate with your mates….. but stop for a second to think about what you have achieved - that deserves more than just knocking the top off a cold one.  Your efforts should be recognised, your sacrifices, applauded. 



Have a small ceremony to stamp the moment that you did this thing and it will make it all the more memorable; You could thank the people who helped you get there;  Have a special blessing put over the house; Light a candle symbolising your future at that address and even use the candle to start the BBQ - #new beginnings!

Want to read more? Click HERE to check out some of our sugggestions for celebrating every stage of life.

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Celebrants do more than just weddings...

It's true that a lot of civil celebrants only conduct marriage ceremonies or funerals but there are also many Family Celebrants who offer their services for a multitude of celebrations that will continue on throughout your lifetime.  

Betrothal / Engagement Ceremonies

Making the decision to get married is just as important and exciting as it is to actually get married, so why not celebrate it?  When you get engaged one of you is asking the other to spend the rest of your lives together.  And if the answer is yes, then that is cause for celebration.  A promise to one day soon be married (legally you need to wait at least one full month after you've signed the Notice of Intended Marriage form with your celebrant).  How wonderful it will be to find a CCN Celebrant who will become your Family Celebrant for all the celebratory milestones in your lives.

Blessingway Ceremonies

This is a lovely ceremony for when you're pregnant or adopting a child.  It is a beautiful and relaxed way to honour the mother in her preparation for the arrival of her baby/child.  There are rituals that can be performed and advice offered from experienced friends and relatives.


Naming Ceremonies

This is the non relgious version of a Christening or Baptism for your baby/child or your newly adopted baby or child to welcome them into their family and their community.  Naming Ceremonies are also for people who are transitioning from one gender to another or simply wanting a new beginning in their lives where a new name is part of that transition.


Coming of Adolescence Ceremonies

In some cultures, there are specific rituals for boys who are coming into manhood and young ladies have always had biological changes welcoming them into womanhood, although this is more often a secret tha tis not spoken about let alone celebrated.  However in Australia we don't really have a custom or tradition where the young men and woman are ackknowledged or eased into this special and sometimes confusing time in their lives.  In the past we had debutant balls and coming out parties which were designed to introduce young ladies into society, but that tradition is surely fading.  The Coming of Adolescence Ceremony is ackowledging and celebrating the transitions that your teenagers are passing through.  No longer a child, but not quite yet an adult and yet they are acheiving milestones that should be recognised.

Coming Out Ceremonies

Whether you are gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgender or one of the many other gender identies, that is nobody's business but your own.  However, if you want to share and celebrate this joyous occasion and you or your child have been brave enough and found the confidence to come out to your family and friends, then why not celebrate?  Coming out is all about accepting yourself the way you are and living a life that is true for you.  You are you.  You are beautiful and you should be celebrated and be celebrated!

Coming of Age Ceremonies - 18th, 21st

Since the 1960's when the legal age of 21 was reduced down to 18 in Australia [read more about this here] we typically celebrate by getting as drunk as we possibly can.  With all the alcohol related violence, it is way overdue that we look at our coming of age celebrations and rethink what it actually means to become an adult.  It means amoungst a long list of responsibilities: voting, signing legal documents and travelling.  Yes, it means that you can drink legally, but it also means that you need to be mature enough to do it responsibly.  So why not make your coming of age party more meaningful with a ceremony that honours who you are, where you've come from and where you're going in your life.

Special Birthday Celebrations

Is Nanna turning 80?  Is Granddad 75 already? What fabulously interesting lives they must have lead in their time. Why not celebrate in a style befitting family elders and leaders by giving your loved one a Party with a Purpose.  A "This is your life" tribute honours their lives, their accomplishments, their hardships, their knowledge and their experiences.

Anniversary Celebrations & Wedding Vow Renewals

Each year that a couple has worked at their marriage should be celebrated.  Check out the Wedding Anniversary symbols page for some ideas on your next anniversary party theme and how you could incorporate a meaningful ceremony with the help of your CCN Celebrant.  When you've been married for a while, you can look back on the vows you made at your marriage ceremony and decide whether they are still fitting for your relationship now or whether you'd like to add some new ones to match how your relationship has evolved.

Moving in Together

Without the legal paperwork, buying a house or moving in together is a commitment that can in some ways be just like a marriage.  You'll need to communicate effectively to feed the pets and work together to pay the bills.  This momentous occasion should be celebrated.  You could invite everyone around and combine your housewarming party with a commitment ceremony and really party with a purpose!


Why not talk to one of our CCN Celebrants to help you make your next celebration more meaningful?


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Why not give a ceremony as a gift?

birthday cake 916253 200Have you ever thought of giving a loved one a ceremony as a gift?  Perhaps this sounds a bit strange but think about it a bit more.  How many people recognise this scenario:

Your sister from interstate rings - "It's Mum's 80th birthday in 3 months time - what are we going to do about it?"  You talk a little more and decide that it would be a good time to get the family together and have a bit of a party to celebrate.  So the message goes out - the family are all primed to be at Mum's favourite restaurant where you have booked a private room for lunch on the big day.  A few of Mum's close friends are let in on the secret and invited and the plan is underway.

The next phone call is almost inevitable - "what shall we get Nan for a present? - it should be something special for her 80th"  So you talk to a friend who happens to be a Celebrant.  And this is what you come up with:

Let the celebration be the gift

Suggest to all attending that the very best gift for Mum will be the company and love of her family and friends. Agree that each will make a contribution to that gift by being a participant in the day.  Engage a Civil Celebrant to coordinate the arrangements and conduct a short ceremony before the lunch.  Decide to share the cost of the meal and Celebrant in whatever way is fair for your family and circumstances.  

Your Celebrant will put a lot of work into the day as Coordinator and Presenter.  She will work with you to design your ideal ceremony.  Her suggestions might include - Let the children and grandchildren nominate a role they will take on the day - to sing, play, read a poem, make a DVD from Mum's photos, compile a CD of songs from different eras of your Mum's life, present flowers, make a speech, bake a cake, escort Nan to the venue and so on.  Your celebrant will weave these contributions into a ceremony.  She may invite everyone who is attending to write a letter or card that shares some special memory they have of your Mum and compile these into a gift book.  She will probably record the highlights of Mum's life There are many possibilities and you will be able to discuss these and decide what suits your needs.

By the time the big day arrives you and your family will have created a unique gift for a special person.

To find a Civil Celebrations Network Celebrant to help you plan or to get more information and ideas for a special celebration have a look at our website

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