Creating Beautiful Love Stories for Wedding Ceremonies

In my other life, I give creative writing classes. So, I’ve decided to bring my two worlds together by giving creative writing workshops to celebrants. These workshops will show celebrants how to create beautiful love stories for wedding ceremonies.

We celebrants create stories for all the ceremonies we do – eulogies for funeral and memorials, stories of renewed love for vow renewals and tales of great adventures to come for baby namings.

But in my celebrant creative writing workshops, I’ll be concentrating on the wedding love story for couples. The love story forms the centrepiece of the wedding ceremonies delivered by independent celebrants like me. It’s our gift to loving couples.

This picture illustrates the kind of mood you create when you create love stories for wedding ceremonies.

Photo Description: I’m in my pink celebrant suit, delivering a love story to a bride. I’m to the left of the picture, holding a microphone in my hand. The bride is on the right and she’s looking towards me. There’s lush greenery in the background (Photo Credit: Lopez Photography.)

I create my love stories in partnership with the couple. This is the biggest story of their lives, so it’s hugely important that they’re happy with how I tell it. I want to make sure they feel it truly reflects who they are and what their relationship means to them. This is usually the happiest part of the wedding consultation. The couple go all misty-eyed and exchange private looks and lots of giggles, as happy memories flood into their minds.

Structure of Love Story

There’s a natural structure to the love story and I’ll be going through that structure in the workshop, which I hope will take some of the heavy lifting out of the story. And it’s also a heap of fun tonight. You get a chance to hear about the most thrilling and special moments of a couple’s relationship, starting with when they met.

When you discuss that with the couple, they’ll go all misty-eyed. The meeting is always memorable, even if it’s memorable for being ordinary. Sometimes it’s hate at first sight, sometimes it’s a slow burn, and sometimes the couple just know. When you describe the meeting, you set the scene for the story, and people will look forward to hearing how the story will unfold.

You then go on to describe how the couple’s relationship evolves: the first date, the first kiss, the first holiday. You’ll share the highs, the things that cemented their relationship. These could be huge life events like the birth of a child or buying a house. But you can also share those everyday delights of a relationship, like the cup of tea left by your bed every morning.

Challenge and Triumph

In every story, there’s always an element of challenge. On your wedding day, you don’t want to dwell on the things that went wrong, but challenges are part of every relationship too. It’s really up to the couple. Some couples will want to share their challenges – they may feel their challenges brought them closer together. Other couples prefer to keep it light. If that’s the case, you can focus on the will they/won’t they tension in the run-up to the proposal.

Ah yes, the proposal. This is where your story will end, and it’s usually another hugely memorable moment – for the things that go wrong as well as the things that go right. Even the most low-key proposal is filled with tenderness and romance. If you do it right, it’ll be the biggest aw moment in your story, especially if you let a dramatic pause fall before the person being proposed to says yes.

Want to find out more about the ways I can bring meaning to your story? Have a look at my Weddings page.

Celebrants are naturally good storytellers, but I hope this class will help them gather their thoughts and tell a story that hits the right note. Above all, I hope I can help them tell a story that will make their audience laugh and cry, and that everyone will be talking about long after the ceremony is over.

If you’d like me to create an aw moment in your ceremony with your very own beautifully crafted love story, give me a call on 0876959799.

Finding The Right Language As A Funeral Celebrant

As a funeral celebrant, I’m in the delicate position of meeting people when they’re in a time of deepest grief. Pre-COVID, I would have visited their houses, but now I’ll have the conversation to plan the funeral ceremony over Zoom or WhatsApp. And because of this delicate situation, I’ll use the most delicate words I can, so I won’t cause any more upset. That’s why I’ll say that the family’s loved one has passed away, not died.

‘Passed away’ has become a very popular way to say that someone has gone out of existence. Some people find it comforting, a phrase that softens the blow. Some people see it as a way of diluting the truth of the situation. Why not just say they died? That’s what happened. I’d be more in the second camp. But it doesn’t matter what I think. I’d there to give service and comfort to the families. So, I’ll use the words that soften the blow.  

Besides, I’ve discovered that the phrase ‘passed away’ didn’t start off as a way of avoiding the truth. And it’s also not an American phrase as many people think. It’s a phrase that originates in 15th century England, and it meant that a person’s soul has passed over to the other side. I think that’s rather lovely, and gives the phrase more power than I knew it had.

Using the Family’s Language

In general, I let the family guide my choice of language. If the family want me to say their loved one died, I’ll say they died. I’ll listen to the words the family use to describe what happened to their loved one and I’ll use those words. This is particularly important when the death is traumatic, the result of a killing or a suicide. I could write a whole post on that alone.

At the other end of the scale, the person who has passed away may have been a real colourful character, someone who was a bit cheeky and naughty in their humour. In circumstances like that, it’s perfectly appropriate to use humorous language.

This picture illustrates the blog post's point about how the right words can make a difference at funerals.
A quote from Raymond Carver, who knew how to distil big concepts into a few words.

You can say, ‘he was a bit of a rogue,’ ‘she’d call a spade a shovel.’ You’re reflecting who the person was and it’ll give people at the funeral a laugh, and a chance to remember their loved one fondly.

Sometimes the family didn’t get on with their loved one who has passed away. That’s the reality. And sometimes the language they want to use can be pretty brutal. When that happens, it’s my job as a celebrant to encourage them to soften that language.

I’d remind them that there will be people there who did get on their loved one and who’ll be upset by language that’s too harsh. Saying, ‘He was not an easy man’ usually covers all bases. It’s honest, but it’s also kind.

Overall, that’s the balance I’m aiming to strike as a funeral celebrant when I’m choosing my words – honest but kind. I am to offer comfort, but I also aim to be authentic, to truly reflect who the person was. Ultimately, it’s the family who’ll dictate the choice of words. I have to take myself out of the picture. I will choose the words that give them solace, and if I achieve that, then I know my work is done.

Has your loved one passed away? Are you looking to find the right words to say your goodbyes? I’d be happy to help. Have a look at my funerals page to find out how my funeral ceremonies work.

What Type of Celebrant Am I?

When you pick a celebrant for a ceremony, you’re probably not thinking too much about what type of celebrant they are. For most people, a celebrant is a celebrant. And generally, all celebrants have the same aim – to deliver a ceremony that’s personal and that shows respect for your beliefs and life choices.

But there are subtle differences between the types of celebrants that offer their services to couples and families. You might want to bear these in mind when you’re choosing a celebrant for your ceremony. I’m going to lay out the different types of celebrants you can choose from, so you can make an informed choice about who you want for your ceremony.

Humanist Celebrants

Humanist Celebrants are people who have been members of the Humanist Association of Ireland for more than two years. Humanists believe in being ‘good without God,’ the idea that you can live a moral and ethical life without the influence of a supernatural power. Humanist celebrants offer ceremonies that are completely secular – there are no hymns, payers or spiritual readings. So, they’re a good fit for people who have no religious or spiritual beliefs.

Spiritual Celebrants

Spiritualist Celebrants are at the opposite end of the spectrum – they’re all about the spirit. Spiritualist celebrants perform ceremonies according to the rites of the Spiritualist Union of Ireland. Spiritualism is a recognised religion that is centred on the belief that it is possible to communicate with the spirit of a person once they have passed away.

That doesn’t mean this will happen at a spiritualist ceremony, but space can be created in a ceremony for the spirits of loved one who have passed away. A spiritualist celebrant is a good option if you are not religious, but have strong spiritual belief.

Intefaith Ministers

Interfaith Celebrants: Interfaith celebrants or ministers are trained and ordained by the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation and they take a blended approach to ceremonies. They receive training in a variety of faith systems so they can deliver ceremonies that incorporate lots of faith traditions. Interfaith celebrants are a good option if there are two or more faith backgrounds in your family. Their ceremonies allow everyone’s faith to be represented.

I’m not any of these types of celebrants. So, what type of celebrant am I?

Well, I’ve said on my About Us page that I’m a creative celebrant, an authentic celebrant, a celebrant full of passion. But officially, I’m an independent celebrant. That means I’m not associated with any organisation, religious, legal, spiritual or civil.

This picture illustrates the colour and creativity an independent celebrant can bring to a ceremony.

I am performing a handfasting ceremony for a couple. I stand between them, and their hands are clasped, with ribbons around their fingers. (Photo Credit: Dermot Byrne Photography)

The thing that distinguishes an independent celebrant like me from any other type of celebrant is you.

The ceremonies I create put you at the centre, not a belief system or a set of laws. It’ll have your personality stamped all over it.

I am completely free to design the ceremony that you want, without restrictions. If you want lots of prayers and hymns, you can have them. If you want no prayers or hymns, you can have that. Or you can have a mixture of both. Your ceremony will be all about you.

If you think I’m the kind of celebrant you want, I’d be very flattered. But before I get carried away with delight, I’d better tell you how to get in touch with me. You can all me on 087 6959799 or email me (Derbhile) on info@celebrantderv.ie.

My Life As A Visually Impaired Celebrant

Anyone who reads my blogs and social media posts may have noticed that I always add a photo description to each post. The photo description tells search engines what’s in your photograph, but it also tells anyone who’s visually impaired or blind what’s in your photo. I felt it was only right to set a good example and add these photo descriptions, because I myself am a visually impaired celebrant.

I can see enough. That’s the best way I can describe it. Thanks to my trusty magnifier, I can see print and images on my laptop easily enough. But move print any more than six inches away from my face and it disappears. I have a turbulent relationship with steps, which turns some ceremony venues into an adventure for me. And it takes me a little more time to get to grips with the finer details of some ceremony rituals.

Challenges in Celebrancy Training

When I was doing my celebrant training, my sight proved more of a challenge than I expected. I’ve had the same sight all my life, so it doesn’t knock a feather out of me at this stage. Usually once I have the handouts in front of me and can listen to the presenter, I fly through course material. But our course manual was printed in the smallest, faintest font known to man. And I couldn’t really tell what the tutors were doing when they were showing us the rituals, particularly the handfasting.

I had explained my situation before I began my celebrancy training with the IIOC and asked the tutors to spend a bit of extra time with me on the rituals. They let me actually do the ritual, so I could feel the ribbon in my hands and see up close where it was meant to go. I was grateful for the extra time they spent and managed to do a perfect handfasting at the mock ceremony I did on the day of my celebrant exam.

I also let the course organisers know that the manual wasn’t accessible and I’ve been told they were planning to update it since. COVID may well have made that situation easier, as the IIOC is currently delivering its courses via Zoom. That means that any visually impaired attendees of the course can use their magnifiers or their screen readers (software that reads all the information on a screen for blind people) to access the course material.

So, how do I then deliver a ceremony?

Well, mostly I use my superpower – my ability to memorise large amounts of information. After I write my ceremony, I learn it off word for word. I find this the best way to manage. If I were to read it in the normal way, my face would be buried behind the book. If I memorise it, I can look out at the crowd and let them see my face. I still have my ceremony book, with the script in giant writing in case I get lost. But mostly I never use my celebrant book.

This pic illustrates how I manage my ceremony text as a visually impaired celebrant.
Pic Caption: This is me in my pink celebrant suit with yellow bushes in the background. I’m holding my celebrant book and if you look closely, you can see the giant writing. (Photo Credit: Dermot Byrne Photography)

I’ll also spend time practising the rituals. All celebrants do this anyway, but I know I need to spend a little extra time on them so I can feel comfortable lighting candles and tying ribbons under pressure. Taking this time literally gives me a feel for the ritual, so I’m not just relying on my sight to pull the ritual off during the ceremony.

Then on the day, I spend extra time scoping out the venue. Celebrants are advised to turn up well in advance of a ceremony anyway, so I’ll turn up about two hours before the ceremony and walk around the venue to see if there are any steps that may trip me up. Funny enough, flights of steps are okay, but one step can be a landmine, so it’s good to know that step is there.

My Ceremony Helpers

It’s good to have an ally on the day, someone who knows the score and can step in if needed. If it’s a wedding, I’d probably inform the best man about my eye condition, and if it’s a funeral, I’d let the funeral director know. But my biggest ally of all is my husband.

As many ceremony venues are away from public transport links, and there can be a lot of materials to carry, he drives to the venue with me and helps me to set up. He’s a good logistics man with a sharp eye for detail, so he’s the secret weapon to my success as a celebrant.

Because of my own background, I’d love to work with couples and families who have disabilities of all kinds. I’ll do all I can to make sure the ceremony experience I create is accessible for everyone. If you want to get in touch with me about my ceremonies, please contact me on info@celebrantderv.ie.

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