My Big Fat Beautiful Wedding Ceremony

The marketing gurus are telling us to make use of this time by writing blog posts telling everyone how fabulous we are and how we can help. I certainly want to help, but at the moment, I want to cheer myself up, so I’m going to share the memory of my first-ever wedding ceremony as a qualified celebrant.

Picture the scene. It was New Year’s Eve. The sky outside was clear. There were art-deco decorations everywhere, to fit the wedding’s 1920s theme. The guests filed into a Regency style conservatory with a circular shape that made it a wonderfully intimate venue for a wedding.  Exotic plants rested against the window panes and every so often, you’d hear the screech of a parakeet. What a perfect place for my first wedding ceremony.

The bride floated up the aisle towards her husband to be and I’m waiting for them, mic and book in hand, in front of a table garlanded with candles and flowers.

After opening words were spoken, it was time for me to begin telling the couple’s love story. The love story is the independent celebrant’s calling card. It’s a unique gift that we give to each couple, as a way of celebrating their relationship.

I told a story that charted the relationship of this young couple, who have grown together over many years. They were a couple full of humour and banter, which made their story easy to write – they gave me the best lines. People laughed in the right places, and when I reached the proposal, everyone cheered.

Lighting of Candles

After that, I toned the mood down a bit, to pay tribute to the loved ones the couples had lost and to allow them to be present in some way on the day. The pictures of those loved ones were on the table, to mark their presence, with a candle in front of them. I lit the candle to honour their memory. After the ceremony, people told me they were moved by the ritual.

Later on in the ceremony, more candles were lit for the unity candle ceremony. The mothers of the bride and groom lit the outside candles in the beautiful floral arrangement created by Fethard Flowers. Later on, the couples took the light from the outside candles and used them to light the centre candle, to show that they were now one.

The couple lit candles to show that they were now one. Photo Credit: Lopez Photography.

Handfasting Ceremony

The true highlight of the ceremony for me was the handfasting. I bound the couple’s hands with cord in the GAA colours of their counties: the green and white of Limerick, the blue and gold of Tipperary. There was lots of good-natured banter from the couple and the audience about that ancient hurling rivalry.

After I tied their hands, I placed my own hands over theirs and recited a poem called Hands. For me, it was a profound, moving moment. The work I spoke were reminding the couple that they would be together, always supporting each other, for the rest of their lives.

A moving handfasting ritual. Photo Credit: Lopez Photography

This was what all the fuss and rushing around had been for. I don’t know what the couple were thinking, but judging by the expression on their faces, they were even more moved than I was.

After the ceremony, I was floating. What a privilege it was to play a small part in this wondrous event and to be present at such an amazing moment in the life of this couple. The room vibrated with love and joy, and I thought, I cannot wait to do more of this.

Congrats again to the stunning bride, @valeriedromey and her husband Michael.

I would be delighted to play my part in your joyous wedding day. I know times are difficult, but better days will come, and if you feel I can be of help in planning yours, email info@celebrantderv.ie

Big up to the suppliers who made this wedding possible, and wishing them well during this strange time.

Fethard Flowers By Mandy

Treble and Bass

Beauty Atelier @beautyatelier.irl

Lopez Photography, @lopezphotography.ie

Sonic Big Band @sonicbigband

And most of all… Kilshane House, @kilshanehouse

Becoming A Funeral Celebrant

I hope you are all keeping well through this time of crisis, this unreal time when we are apart but together. I myself am planning to blog on through. This is partly because writing has always been my way to keep myself sane. But it’s also because there are people out there who are getting married later in 2020 or next year and they deserve their chance to dream about their big day.

And when this is all over, which it will be, people will be mad to plan the weddings, baby namings and vow renewals that they had to postpone. Boy am I looking forward to getting stuck into that feast of ceremonies, and I bet you are too. But first, I’ve a bit of good news to share with you.

Before the world went haywire, I qualified as a funeral celebrant. This was a really important step forward in my celebrant quest. It means I can now deliver ceremonies for every stage of life, from the cradle to the grave. The Irish Institute of Celebrants (IIOC), who I trained with, gave me not one but two fancy diplomas. One was a diploma in family and funeral celebrancy and the other was a certificate in funeral celebrancy.

The Funeral Celebrant Examination

The process of being examined was pretty interesting. On a Tuesday night, I found myself in a room in a central Dublin hotel, lit only by a lamp. I sat beside two of my classmates, and across from me was an actress very convincingly playing a bereaved person, a person who was in shock after the sudden death of her father. We had to gently draw out information from her that we would use for our ceremony.

Then we had to go home and write up a ceremony within twenty-four hours, based on the information she gave us. I made the deadline and got my approval email. The next two days were spent learning off the ceremony I’d written. On the following Saturday, 29 February, leap year, I stood in a room in front of the actress/client and an examiner to deliver the ceremony. It was surreal, delivering to rows of empty chairs, but I survived, and I passed.

But the two people who evaluated me decided that I could deliver the goods as a funeral celebrant, and I came out with two pieces of paper, some helpful suggestions and some glowing praise. When all this is over, I’ll be in touch with funeral directors to let them know I exist, and I hope I can help people who lost loved ones during this difficult time by creating beautiful memorial services for them.

In the meantime, stay safe and well all of you, and hope the blog posts I create for you over the next little while will keep you dreaming.

Ceremonies and the Coronavirus

The escalation of the Coronavirus outbreak and the measures being taken to curb it have blown away my plans for this week’s blog post. I want to say instead that my heart goes out to all those affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and their families. And my heart goes out to all the people who have had to cancel baby naming, wedding and vow renewal ceremonies.

But this too shall pass, and when it does, celebrants like me can help you plan your rescheduled ceremonies. In the meantime, I want to say that I’m here to help couples who planned a wedding ceremony abroad and have now been grounded. I can put together a ceremony for you at very short notice and deliver it to you in any venue in South-East Ireland. Once your gathering is small, I’ll be only too delighted to help you make your dreams come true.

And to my fellow celebrants, let’s sit tight and help our clients and each other in any way we can. If you find you can’t deliver a ceremony because you have an underlying condition and don’t want to be exposed, I can step in for you. Or if you want advice on how to write a ceremony at short notice, I’ll be happy to draw on my writing background to give you tips.

In the meantime, I’m coming up with creative ways to spread the word about my celebrancy online. Who knows – they may lead to a big boom in virtual ceremonies!

If you’ve got any questions at all about organising ceremonies in these testing times, contact me, Derbhile, on 00 353 87 6959799.

How to Organise Your Legal Wedding Ceremony

I’m someone who likes to get to the nitty gritty. So, I’m going to get this out of the way. I can’t solemnise your wedding. That means I can’t make your marriage legal. I’d love to, but I can’t. And I could explain why, but I would need a separate blog post for that. Let’s just say it boils down to complicated marriage legislation. So, if you want me as your celebrant, your wedding will be a two-phase event. There’ll be a highly personal ceremony for you, your family and friends, conducted by me, and there’ll be a legal ceremony at the registry office.

Organising a separate legal ceremony is more doable than you think. It even gives you a good excuse for a party. So, I’ve created this blog post to show you how it all works.

Just Make An Appointment

I know that for Irish people in particular, it can be hard getting your head around organising a separate legal wedding ceremony. We’re used to having everything done in one place. But all you’re really doing is making an extra appointment to sign a document. All couples have to register their marriage three months in advance of their wedding with the Health Service Executive (HSE), no matter what type of ceremony they choose. You make a marriage notification appointment to register your marriage with your local Health Service Executive (HSE) and you make a second appointment for your legal signing. That’s it.

You can make your appointment for your legal ceremony at the same time as you make your marriage notification appointment. Or you can make it when you actually go to the marriage notification appointment. The registrar will ask you where and when you are getting married, and you tell them you want to be married in the registry office. You can then choose a date for your legal ceremony with the registrar.

Signing the marriage register makes your marriage legal

Just remember that the date of your legal ceremony must be at least three months later than the date of your marriage notification appointment. So, if your marriage notification appointment is in May, you fix a date for your legal ceremony in August or later. The good news is that your legal ceremony can happen either before or after your wedding ceremony with me. It makes no difference to me and it makes no difference to the HSE as long as you make your marriage legal with them.

What Happens At the Legal Ceremony?

Your legal ceremony will be very short, fifteen minutes at most. You just turn up at the registry office with two witnesses and everything will be done. Afterwards, you and your witnesses can go for a drink or a slap-up lunch. That’s where the party bit comes in. In fact, I’d recommend organising your legal signing the day before your wedding ceremony with me. What a great way to get the party started.

And if you do want both your ceremonies to happen at the same time, it’s still possible. If you’re getting married on a weekday between 9am and 5pm, the registrar can come out to your venue, depending on availability. Then you can have your ceremony with me and the registrar will be on hand afterwards for you to sign the register with your witnesses.

How Much Will All This Cost?

I can understand why you’d be worried about the expense of a second ceremony, but it needn’t cost any extra. All couples pay €200 anyway to register their marriages with the HSE. I charge a fee of €450 for my wedding ceremonies, which falls within the standard fees charged by celebrants of all kinds. The only extra cost is if you want the registrar to come to your wedding venue. The HSE charges a standard fee of €100 for that service.

Why would you even bother with a separate legal ceremony?

Because it frees you up to have the wedding ceremony of your dreams. I’ll put no restriction on the shape of your ceremony – you can use whatever wording and music you want. All celebrants and solemnisers aim to offer a personal service, but they are bound by legalities or belief systems. For example, in a humanist or registry office ceremony, you can make no reference to religion or God and certain legal words have to be said. So, if you want a ceremony that fits perfectly with who you are and what you believe in, an independent celebrant is your best option. I promise you – it’ll be worth your while.

If you have any more questions about organising your legal ceremony, I’d be happy to help. Just send me a message using the website contact form or email info@celebrantderv.ie. Otherwise, you can get information from the HSE website about getting married in Ireland.

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