Celebrant Training: Why It’s A Great Idea

Yesterday, I got a call from a wannabe celebrant who’s thinking of training to be a celebrant. I chatted to her about my own celebrant training and how I felt it had shaped me as a celebrant. It got me thinking about why training to be a celebrant is important.

Recognition for Celebrancy

Celebrancy is a funny profession. It’s both very old and very new. There have been ceremonies since the beginning of time, and there have been people who were given the role of officiating them. In recent years, as organised religion declines in many countries, the role of ceremony officiant is being given recognition again.

But because celebrancy is only just being recognised again as a profession, there are lots of loopholes. Anyone can set themselves up as a celebrant without training. I did a baby naming ceremony in September 2018 before I even knew there was such a thing as a celebrant, and I could have started a celebrancy business the next day.

I can’t lie. I was really tempted to tell the world I was now a celebrant – I was so bursting with joy after the baby naming ceremony. But I felt it was important to be equipped with the proper skills, so I could deliver ceremonies that were professional as well as fun.

Beginning Celebrant Training

I did my research and decided the courses offered by the Irish Institute of Celebrants (IIOC) fit the bill. They would give me total freedom to deliver the ceremonies that people wanted. I could be as creative, as spiritual, as passionate and as outrageous as I wanted. That was important to me.

In September 2019, I qualified as a family celebrant with the IIOC. A family celebrant delivers weddings, baby naming ceremonies and vow renewals. Then in October, I began the IIOC funeral celebrant course and qualified as a funeral celebrant in March 2020. Because I completed the two courses, the IIOC awarded me a diploma in family and funeral celebrancy.

You’ll find out more about me and what kind of celebrant I am here.

Naturally there are differences between the two courses. The funeral celebrant course prepares you for dealing with people in a heightened state of grief, while the family ceremony shows you how to bring joy into people’s lives with your ceremonies. But there were skills I learned which were common to both.

Voice Techniques

There’s a strong element of performance in the course, and we had several sessions showing us how to use our voices to deliver a great performance. Trained actors showed us how to breathe correctly and how to control our voices so that nerves wouldn’t get in the way.

We did tongue twisters to stop us from tripping over tricky consonants. The tutor also showed us how to manage the pace of our delivery and gave us tricks to help us deliver our ceremonies with meaning and passion.

Carrying Out Rituals

Ritual is a hugely important part of ceremonies. They’re powerful symbols of life and of love. We learned about the meaning and origins of some of the most popular rituals, like the Celtic handfasting carried out at weddings. We also learned to carry out those rituals.

We tied ribbons around each other’s hands and we lit candles. We also learned about where to stand during a ritual and how to direct the people taking part. We kept practising until the rituals felt natural and we could carry them out seamlessly.

Telling Stories Of Love

The thing that makes the IIOC celebrant courses stand out is the emphasis on storytelling. We learned to create unique ceremonies for each family we work with. On both courses, there was a module on storytelling, to help us craft and deliver these unique stories.

On the wedding course, we learned to write love stories for couples that captured the special moments in their relationship, from first meeting to proposal. And on the funeral course, we learned how to write eulogies, love stories of a different kinds. Eulogies are stories that capture the essence of the person who has passed away and allow the families to express their love for that person, one last time.

Dealing With Clients

Though the IIOC celebrant courses aren’t business courses, we did learn how to develop a relationship with people we worked with and how to collaborate with them to create our ceremonies.

We did mock consultation sessions, where we played the part of a client and a celebrant. We asked each other questions to find out what ceremony the person would like. This was particularly challenging during the funeral course, when we learned how to consult with clients in fraught situations.

Delivering Ceremonies

After all these modules were finished, it was time for our final assessment, and that assessment took the form of a ceremony. For our wedding ceremony, we were given the name of a couple and told to write a ceremony for them.

We had some rehearsal sessions to practice our rituals, our stance and our ceremony scripts. Then we delivered our ceremonies in front of people from other celebrancy courses. We chose people to play the bride and groom and delivered our ceremonies.

The funeral ceremony process was interesting. To give us experience of how a funeral would happen in real time, we had to write and deliver a funeral ceremony within three days. We did a consultation session with an actor playing the part of a bereaved person.

From the information we gathered at the consultation, we wrote a draft ceremony within twenty-four hours. Then we rehearsed and delivered that ceremony, in an empty room with just the examiners at the other end. After that, delivering a ‘real’ funeral will be easy!

This photo illustrates the value of celebrant training, that your skills are certified.
This is a picture of me in my pink suit holding a certificate, on the day I qualified as a family celebrant last September.

Overall, I’m glad I completed my celebrant training. I feel I’m equipped to deal with my clients and to cope with whatever glitches arise. The fact that I’ve invested time and money to become a better celebrant builds trust. And I can show people that I have the skills to deliver the ceremony of their dreams.

Want to get the benefit of my excellent training? Give me a call on 00 353 87 6959799 to start the ball rolling for a brilliant ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony – Valerie and Michael, New Year’s Eve 2019

Derbhile did an amazing job delivering our wedding ceremony! Everyone was commenting on how personal the ceremony was and how impressed they were with her!
Her voice is so clear and carries so well. Her communication was always very clear and prompt and she ran everything by us. She made the process so easy.
Thanks so much for making our ceremony so special! Would definitely recommend Derv as an excellent celebrant.

Photo Description: I’m delivering a wedding ceremony in a pink suit. There’s a table covered in a white cloth to the right, trees in the background and guests seated on the left-hand side. (Photo Credit: Lopez Photography)

Family Ceremony – The Healys, June 2020

I am really glad that Derbhile was there to be a witness and guide us through the ceremony. She made it all so easy and relaxed, we had a great giggle, which is exactly the way we wanted. And we also got a recording of the ceremony afterwards as Derbhile had recorded it through Zoom.

I would highly recommend Derbhile for any type of ceremony, she is sensitive, eloquent and compassionate. She was prepared, helped me be organised through planning the event beforehand. Thanks a million Derbhile, you made our day really special.”

This pic shows the woods where the family had their ceremony on the left-hand side and me in my room on the right. I took the screenshot from Zoom.

Make Your Vow Renewal Even Better Than Your Wedding

Nothing could be better than your wedding day, could it? The day you and your beloved tell each other, and the world, that you will be together for life. But there is another day that can be just as good – in fact, it can even be better. That’s the day of your vow renewal.

At a vow renewal, you renew the vows you made on your wedding day. It’s as simple as that. You get a second chance to tell each other that you’re committed for life.

This is a picture of a man and a woman dressed in formal clothes. They are standing very close to each other, with trees in the background. Photo Credit: Dermot Byrne Photograhy

You can see a video of a vow renewal on my vow renewals page, which will show you what to expect from your vow renewal ceremony. But I wanted to share more about why I think vow renewals can be even better than weddings.

You get the wedding you want

If you were getting married 20-30 years ago, chances were, you had a lot less control over your wedding. Certainly in Ireland, the only ceremony options were a church or a registry office, and people’s parents usually paid for the wedding.

That meant you didn’t to choose how you celebrated your day. Your vow renewal gives you a second chance to have the wedding you always dreamed of. You choose the venue, the music, and what to say. It’ll be your day, your way.

You won’t miss a moment

On your wedding day, you were probably in a tizzy of excitement as you prepared to spend the rest of your life with the one you loved. There were probably a lot of people there for you to greet. It’s no surprise that for many people, their wedding day is a blur.

At your vow renewal, you will probably be just as excited, but you’ll also be calmer and more mature. The crowd is likely to be smaller. That gives you a real chance to savour the day and to keep the memories crystal clear in your mind.

You can celebrate how far you’ve come.

You’ve been together for a long time and you’ve been through a lot together. You’ve proven that your love is real, not just a fairytale. A vow renewal gives you a chance to stake stock and celebrate all that you’ve achieved together.

That’s why lots of people time their vow renewals with a significant wedding anniversary. You can celebrate the family you’ve created, the challenges you’ve overcome and the brilliant moment you’ve enjoyed together.

So, what kind of vow renewal ceremony can you have? Here are some ideas for your vow renewal.

An Intimate Ceremony

If you wished you could have had a small wedding ceremony, now’s your chance. You can organise your ceremony with just your family and a few close friends for an intimate experience. What better way to celebrate than with the people who are most precious to you?

A Family Ceremony

If you have young children and you do everything together as a family, you can get the whole family involved in your ceremony. There are so many creative, colourful rituals you can do together, rituals that confirm your love for each other as a family. These rituals will strengthen your bonds and remind you that you are joined to each other forever.

Full-Scale Wedding

Maybe when you were getting married, you couldn’t afford a big wedding. Well, now’s your chance to celebrate in style. Wear the white dress and the fancy suit. Invite all the people you weren’t able to invite to your wedding, and treat yourself and your guests to a fancy meal in a hotel, followed by a night of dancing. Let the champagne flow and give yourself the wedding experience you didn’t get to have.

I’m hoping this blog post will show you that vow renewals aren’t just for celebrities. If I have, and you want to start planning your vow renewal ceremony, I’ll be happy to help. Just give me a call on 00 353 87 6959799.

Planning A Brilliant Wedding Ceremony With Your Celebrant

I had an exciting conversation last week. It was with a couple who have chosen me as their celebrant for their wedding in October. The chat was via Zoom, they were in America and I was in my house by the sea in Ireland, but it felt like we were all in the same room.

We were taking the first steps towards planning their wedding ceremony. And I may be asking the questions, but the couple are at the heart of the wedding preparations I make.

When you see a celebrant deliver a wedding ceremony, you just see what you do on the day. But a lot of planning goes into that ceremony. Last week’s chat with the couple was just a chance to get to know each other, but it’s pretty clear that they’ll be a delightful couple to work with.

Given that it was our first chat, we got a lot covered. I got a feel for what kind of ceremony they wanted – it turns out they want some baby naming rituals for their newborn as well. I also told them what kind of ceremony I offered. The couple are determined not to let the COVID situation stop the m from having their dream wedding – and I’m just as determined.

The Wedding Consultation

The next step will be a full-on wedding consultation, where we’ll discuss every aspect of their ceremony. I’ve now sent the couple the wedding consultation form that I go through during this wedding consultation.

With some couples, I’d go through it in a call but they’re the sort of couple who likes to write their thoughts down. We’ll then chat through the wedding consultation form in a few weeks’ time. I’ll then use what they tell me to write my wedding ceremony script,

We’ll talk about who’s coming to the wedding and where they’ve come from. I’ll find out more about the bridal party and what each person in the bridal party means to the couple.

When you’re preparing for a wedding, you want to make sure you have everything covered.

We’ll also talk about what rituals they want and what materials they’d like to use for the rituals. Maybe they’ll want sand from a local beach for the sand ceremony, or maybe they’ll want cords in GAA colours for the handfasting.

Have a look at the Weddings page on my website to see where all this planning can take you on the day of your ceremony.  

The Love Story

The most important part of the wedding consultation form is the part about the love story. This couple have had an eventful life in the last few years, so their love story will be a true celebration of how far they’ve come. I could write a whole blog post about the love story, and I will.

The love story is what makes a wedding ceremony by an independent celebrant stand out. We write a unique love story for every couple we work with. It adds creativity, laughter and emotion to each ceremony.

If I do my job right, the end result of all this planning will be a unique wedding ceremony, a ceremony full of creativity, honesty and passion. This wedding ceremony will give this couple the space to tell the truth about their love for each other.

The guests won’t see the ceremony as the thirty minutes to endure before the party starts. It will stay in their minds long after the couple walk back down the aisle.

If you’d love the chance to talk about your own dream wedding ceremony, I’d love to hear from you. Email info@celebrantderv.ie or call me on 087 6959799 to get the ball rolling.

Making Your Family Ceremony A Truly Joyful Experience

By Derbhile Graham

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about family ceremonies. There was a method to my madness – I was secretly planning a family ceremony, for the lovely Healy family in West Cork, in the deep south of Ireland. The family ceremony happened yesterday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The family seemed to enjoy it too, so I’m going to chalk it up as a success.

The family were in a forest clearing and I was in my home in Tramore, Co. Waterford. We were connected by the mighty power of Zoom, but it felt as if I were there with them, watching their joy unfold. I’m now delighted to say that I’ve performed my first virtual ceremony – and nothing crashed!

Zoom Screenshot From Ceremony
I took a screenshot from the Zoom video of the ceremony. On the left-hand side is the lovely wood the family went to for their ceremony. On the right-hand side you see me in my flowery pink dress, with a pearl necklace on, looking the part for the ceremony.

The inspiration for the ceremony was a special wedding anniversary, but as this is a tight family unit, it made sense to get the whole family involved, with starring roles for the two young Healy children. So, we planned a ceremony full of rituals that the children could be part of.

Starting the Ceremony

To start with, I asked the family to stand in a circle, holding hands, because a circle goes on forever, just like their family. I also spoke about the woods where they were having their ceremony and how much the woods meant to them. Then I read a short poem called ‘Family Comes Together’ by Glaedr the Poet .

After that, the fun began. The family carried out rituals which symbolised their togetherness as a family. First, they did a sand ceremony. They all brought containers of sand from a local beach that they go to regularly, and they poured that sand into a special container, to show that they were inseparable as a family.

Then they showed me a page they had created with their fingerprints on it in rainbow colours. I told them that nobody’s fingerprints are the same. But when you put your fingerprints on the same page, it shows that you are joined together forever.

Wishes and Promises

Next came the part of the ceremony that was meant to be solemn: the ring and vow exchange. But when you put jelly rings and children into the mix, you can forget about solemn. For me, it was the most joyful part of the ceremony.

The family gave each other rings and shouted, ‘I do!’ As a celebrant, you have to know when to scrap your script, so I asked the family to all shout out, ‘We do!’ to affirm their commitment to love each other always.

The final ritual for the ceremony was the one the youngest child had been waiting for – bubble wishes. It’s quite simple. You blow bubbles and make a wish. The wish goes into the bubble and the bubble goes out into the world. As there was a strong wind on the day, we reckoned the bubbles would float to America and back!

The ceremony ended with a song the family had chosen. I left them alone to listen to it and chat amongst themselves. It was a song called A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman (link), a song which is all about sharing dreams and good wishes for the future. A perfect choice for a family ceremony.

Thanks so much to the Healy family for being my guinea pigs for the virtual ceremony. I wish them a brilliant future full of love, joy and laughter.

Would you like to celebrate your family? I’d be delighted to help you do that with your very own family ceremony. Email info@celebrantderv.ie or call me, Derbhile, on 087 6959799 if you’d like to find out more.

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