Course Curriculum

class schedule

What is a Life-Cycle Celebrant? Celebrants are trained professionals who believe in the power and effectiveness of ceremony and ritual to guide us through life's changes and milestone moments. The Celebrant's mission is to create a ceremony that reflects a client's beliefs, philosophy of life, and personality. The Celebrant comes to the table with no agenda; no preconceived notion of what the ceremony should or must look like. Instead, through careful interviewing and a thoughtful process, the Celebrant elicits what is meaningful for each client. After a thorough client interview, we write, rewrite, rehearse, and perform ceremonies.

Life-Cycle Celebrants come from all walks of life and a college degree is not a prerequisite. We are looking for highly motivated students who have an interest in ceremony and ritual, public speaking experience, excellent writing abilities, organizational skills, computer abilities, and a love of the arts and working with people. Foreign languages are a plus. Above all, the Celebrant candidate must be committed to the Celebrant philosophy: Creating personalized ceremonies for people of all beliefs and value systems.

All students are required to take the following prerequisite course:

Fundamentals of Celebrancy

Our Certificate Courses

The Celebrant Foundation & Institute offers three certificate tracks:

1 - Wedding Celebrancy

2 - Funeral Celebrancy

3 - Ceremonies Across the Life-Cycle

4 - LGBTQ Life-Cycle Celebrant Workshop (an advanced course for alumni with one year's experience)

5 – Healings and Transition (an advanced course for alumni with one year's experience)

6 – Master Life Cycle Celebrant (an advanced course for alumni with three certifications and three year's experience)

7 - Celebrant Business Development Course (an advanced course for alumni with one year's experience)

Fundamentals of Celebrancy

Prerequisites: None

All students are required to take our prerequisite course Fundamentals of Celebrancy, a three-month, eight-module class, covers all the elements you need to create effective ceremony no matter which specialty course you'll be taking. Week by week, you'll learn Celebrant philosophy and history, ceremony structure, rites of passage theory, symbolism, storytelling, ceremonial public speaking, and introductory client relations.

Students will study and analyze the works of authors who provide the foundation of ritual theory, such as Rites of Passage by Arnold van Gennep, Deeply Into the Bone by Ronald Grimes, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, Rites of Passage: Celebrating Life's Changes by Kathleen Wall & Gary Ferguson, and The Art of Ritual by Renee Beck & Sydney Metrick.

Topics Covered:

  • History and Ideals of Celebrancy

  • Ceremony Structure

  • Rites of Passage Theory

  • Arnold Van Gennep and Rites of Passage

  • Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey

  • Ronald Grimes and Ceremony Creation

  • Symbolism

  • Storytelling

  • Ceremonial Public Speaking

  • Client Relationships and Interviewing

  • Ceremony Observation Report

Certificate Courses

You'll finish up by choosing the certificate program of your choice - Weddings, Funerals, or Ceremonies Across the Life-Cycle. Each course is eight modules long and is taught through a combination of real-time weekly web conferencing classes, message board discussion, practical exercises, and culminates in a course-long assignment of writing an original ceremony.

Wedding Celebrancy

Prerequisites: Fundamentals of Celebrancy

Ceremonies Included: Weddings, Commitment Ceremonies, Vow Renewals, Engagements, Anniversaries

Topics Covered:

  • Legal Issues for Wedding Celebrants

  • Wedding Ceremony Structure

  • Client Relations, Interviewing, and Fee Setting

  • Storytelling and Ceremony Writing

  • Creating Rituals for Weddings

  • Comparative Rituals for Weddings

  • Case Studies: Personalized, Spiritual, Interfaith, and Same-Sex Weddings

  • Managing Rehearsals

  • Performing Weddings

  • Commitment Ceremonies

  • Engagements, Vow Renewals, and Anniversaries

  • Wedding Ceremony Writing Assignment

  • Wedding Ceremony Observation Report

  • Marketing for the Wedding Celebrant

Funeral Celebrancy

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Celebrancy

Ceremonies Included: Funerals, Memorials, Pet Funerals, End of Life Celebrations, Working with Pre-Need Clients, Ceremonies for Disposition of the Body, Home Funerals/Green Burials.

Selected texts for the Funerals concentration include Sacred Dying by Megory Anderson and Remembering Well by Sarah York.

Topics Covered:

  • Funeral Ceremony Structure

  • Ceremonies for Committal of the Body

  • The Eulogy

  • Interviewing Clients and Working with Families

  • Case Studies: Personalized Funerals, Funerals for Traumatic Deaths

  • Creative Funeral Rituals

  • Comparative Funeral Rituals

  • Performing Funerals

  • Working with the Funeral Industry

  • Pet Funerals

  • Pre-Need Funeral Ceremony Clients; End of Life Celebrations

  • Funeral Ceremony Writing Assignment

  • Funeral Ceremony Observation Report

  • Trends: Home Funerals and Green Burial

  • Marketing for the Funeral Celebrant

Ceremonies Across the Life-Cycle

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Celebrancy

Ceremonies Included: Ceremonies for Expectant Parents, Baby Namings & Welcomings, Coming of Age, Milestone Birthdays, Graduations, Ceremonies for Homes, Personal Ritual, Men's and Women's Midlife Passages, Seasonal Ceremonies, Career Change, Retirement

Topics Covered:

  • Becoming Parents: Ceremonies for Expectancy

  • Becoming a Family: Ceremonies to Welcome Children

  • Adolescent & Young Adult Coming of Age

  • Coming Home: Ceremonies for Dwellings

  • Gathering Families: Graduations, Milestone Birthdays, and Family Reunions

  • Men's and Women's Midlife Passages

  • Career Change and Retirement

  • Personal Ritual

  • Honoring the Seasons, Celebrating the Earth

  • Interviewing Clients and Working with Families

  • Ceremony Development and Performance

  • Ceremony Writing Assignment

  • Ceremony Observation Report

  • Marketing

LGBTQ Life-Cycle Ceremony Workshop Certificate

Note: This course is offered only during the Fall term each year

Prerequisite: Open to alumni with at least one certification.

This workshop, a certificate course, will consist of three one hour and fifteen minute classes. Participants will discuss the history of the LGBTQ movement and talk about terminology and legality of same sex ceremonies in the United States and abroad.

Participants will delve into the following ceremonies, Funerals, Ceremonies for Families and Other Ceremonies specific to the LGBTQ community.

There will be discussions about Weddings and Marketing to the LGBTQ Community, the nuances that separate same-sex wedding ceremonies from wedding ceremonies for straight couples. Participants will receive tips to enhance their websites and promotional material.

Participants will complete the workshop with a better understanding of their LGBTQ clients. Classes will include practical, hands-on exercises and will provide an opportunity for questions and answers.

  • History and Terminology
  • Family Ceremonies, Funerals and other life-cycle ceremonies
  • Wedding Ceremonies – Marketing to Your Celebrant Services

There will be an abundance of readings and resources and a thirty-minute, one-on-one mentoring and discussion (phone call) with the teacher subsequent to the workshop, timing to be agreed upon by teacher and student.

Promo LGBTQ Life-Cycle Workshop Certificate Course, Anita Vaughan & Mila Martin Creators talk about the course, link to the recording:
Listen to Audio Recording

Ceremonies for Healing and Transition

Prerequisite: Any other certificate course (may take simultaneously)

Ceremonies Included: Chronic and Life-Threatening Illnesses, Addiction and Recovery, Pregnancy Trauma and Infant Loss, Relationship Reclaiming, Divorce, Gender Identity and Transitions, Prisoner Re-Entry, Employment Transitions (layoffs, retirement, organizational changes), Sacred Dying and Bereavement, Community Healing for Shared Trauma

Topics Covered:

  • Purposes of Ceremonies for Healing

  • Setting Boundaries: The Different Roles of Therapist and Celebrant

  • Healing from Illness

  • Healing in Relationships: Ceremonies for Divorce and Recommitment

  • Healing at Work: Job Loss and Healing in Organizations

  • Personal Ritual for Difficult Transition such as Divorce and Recovery

  • Ceremonies of Validation for Caregivers

  • Grieving Loss

  • Gratitude Ceremony after Gender Confirming Surgery

  • Healing for Prisoner Transition

Master Life Cycle Celebrant

This project based course is offered once a year: beginning May 12, 2016 through January 12, 2017
Taught by: Master Life-Cycle Celebrant, Sandra Monahan

The Celebrant Foundation & Institute offers to our accomplished alumni Celebrants the CF&I Master Life-Cycle Celebrant® Certificate Program. This advanced academic and service program is designed to provide a "Master" designation to those experienced Celebrants who are at the forefront of our Celebrant movement committed to being Life-Cycle Celebrant leaders, pioneers and mentors.

Prerequisite: The program is open to graduate CF&I Life-Cycle Celebrants who have at least three years of Celebrant practice experience, and are certified in at least three of the five certificate courses we offer which are: Ceremonies Across the Life Cycle (Families & Children), Weddings, Healings, LGBTQ Life-Cycle and Funerals.

This challenging eight-month program requires Celebrants candidates to complete a number of projects. This course includes: A phone interview upon acceptance, a three session mini refresher course; Master research project, submission of Portfolio of Celebrant Work and a 20-30-minute end of course recorded interview with CF&I Master Program Director and Master Life-Cycle Celebrant, Sandra Monahan, to receive your certification. Upon completion graduates will receive their "Masters" certification, diploma and use of the title and CF&I Master Life-Cycle Celebrant Logo. Master Celebrants are invited to graduate in January 2017 with the Fall 2016 Graduating class via a worldwide virtual Tele-ceremony graduation.

Business Development for Celebrants Certificate Course

8 weekly classes including Student Orientation Meet and Greet
Taught by: Class taught and developed by Elisa Chase, CF&I Academic Manager and Master Life-Cycle Celebrant, Elisa Chase
You can listen to an Interview with Instructor Elisa Chase, here:

Prerequisite: CF&I Certified Celebrant with 1 certification and a desire to build a successful Celebrant Practice Minimum number of students: 3, Maximum number of students: 15

Have you made it through Fundamentals, got one or even more Certifications under your belt, opened your heart to the path of Celebrancy yet find yourself asking: "What do I do now"? Are you new to self-employment, does managing your own business seem overwhelming? Are you concerned about how to build momentum and bring sales into your practice? I know how that feels. Celebrant Business Development is designed for folks committed to and motivated to create a thriving business but who are not sure how to move forward, what plans to put in place first or where to turn to begin harvesting new clients and a calendar full of ceremonies. You are not the first or only Celebrant who has felt a little unsure of how to tackle growing their Celebrant business. If you are already pulling in as many ceremonies as you want or need, this is not the course for you. If you feel good about your infrastructure, social media presence and sales position, this is not the course for you. This class is for folks who know they have a lot to do and are looking for help organizing the pieces, learning the ropes and creating their own personalized business roadmap to success. Taught by triple certified Master Celebrant Elisa Chase, who brings 20 plus years of business management and small business coaching to her 6 plus years as a successful Celebrant and course instructor. This course will put you on the road to success and provide insight and a wealth of knowledge whether you are looking to work in your business full time, or part time, for any or all of the Certifications offered at CFI.

This practice building program offers fellow Celebrants an extensive "window" to begin the process of building a full and rewarding Celebrancy practice/business. Each student will learn how to define their own roadmap customized to their definition of success. We will navigate the waters of marketing and advertising, social media, business development, organization and by the end of the course each student will have a plan of action and a tool kit of skills to implement a plan and begin a rewarding practice in any of the current Certification modalities. Whether you are looking to blend Celebrancy with an existing profession, or you are looking to work exclusively full time or part time as a Celebrant, this course is about creating your vision of your own business practice, and gaining the skills and confidence to launch into your future. Geared toward new Celebrants, renewing Celebrants and colleagues building their business from scratch. In addition to our time together, the class includes two private 50 minute coaching sessions (by teleconference). The course will include a weekly influx of articles, artifacts and references, a treasure trove of knowledge you will refer to long after our time together has come to an end. Low cost, almost no cost marketing tools, ways to monetize a dynamic business anchored by your skills and much more!

Applying for Admission

To apply for admission, you'll need to submit the following by email:

  • Your Resume

  • An application cover sheet (available here); and

  • Adolescent & Young Adult Coming of Age

  • A personal statement on why you want to become a Celebrant (2 pages). The Institute may then conduct an in-person or telephone interview with you. Your application materials may be submitted by email (preferred) to, fax to (973) 746-1775