Why Small Weddings Are Mighty

It’s brilliant news for couples in Ireland this week as wedding ceremonies can go ahead again. But they’re going to be small, and that will be a challenge for some couples. Irish families tend to be big, so Irish weddings tend to be big. Cutting down the guest list could lead to you making deadly enemies.

But small weddings are mighty. I know this because my own wedding was small. I’m going to tell you what made my small wedding mighty, to encourage you to make the leap and plan a small, intimate wedding day.

You’re Surrounding Yourself With Those Closest To You

There were thirty people at my wedding, including our families – and us of course.  It was a real privilege to be able to share the day with the people who meant the most to us. We felt that by inviting them to our wedding, we could show our appreciation to them for the role they had played in our lives and for the support and love they had given to us.

I’m aware of what a privilege it was to have all the people we loved in the same room. And our guests were able to get to know each other, and the chat and laughter flowed all night.

You Can Talk To Everyone

Because the crowd on the day was small, we didn’t have to worry that we wouldn’t be able to get round to everyone. We were able to exchange more than just a passing hello with our guests – we were able to have full-length conversations with them, to chat, laugh and share memories.

If you have a small wedding, you won’t be left with the nagging fear that you didn’t get to talk to everyone. You’ll strengthen the connections with the ones who are most dear to you.

Find out more about my wedding ceremonies, big or small, on my Weddings page.

Flexibility In Your Choice of Venue

My wedding reception was in my family home. We were able to do that because we had a tidy crowd. Having a smaller guest list opens you up to a host of cosy, quirky small wedding venues you mightn’t otherwise have considered.

There are lots of converted churches, arts venues and restaurants opening themselves up for weddings. Why not avail of the opportunity to host your wedding in a venue with a difference. You’ll create a really intimate atmosphere for your guests that they’ll always remember.  

Your Guests Will Feel Involved

Because of the small crowd, lots of the guests played a central role in the wedding ceremony.  The ceremony was in a church, so some guests did readings and prayers of the faithful. I had my sisters as bridesmaids, my husband had a groomsman and my mother gave me away. That gave people a sense of involvement in the wedding.

There are lots of other ways to involve your guests in your small wedding. You can ask them to make cakes, help with decorations or style your hair. They’ll love feeling that they’ve helped to make your day special.

This photo is largely decorative and captures the atmosphere of my wedding day.

This is a picture of me in my red wedding dress with matching red fascinater. I’m in  surrounded by grass and flowers, and there are mountains behind me.

It’s A Less Costly Option

Let’s face it – cost is a factor in planning your wedding. If you are on a budget, a small wedding will be less of a headache for you. You’ll be able to enjoy your day without worrying about getting into debt. I felt I was able to give my guests a five-star wedding experience on a much smaller budget. I was also aware that weddings can be expensive for guests and it felt good to know that I wasn’t adding extra expense for my guests, like accommodation and drinks costs.

My small, intimate wedding gave me memories to last a lifetime, and I want to reassure you that yours will too.

I’m really looking forward to officiating small, mighty weddings in the future – in fact, I have one booked for next year. If you’d like to join my list of wedding bookings, drop me a WhatsApp on 087 6959799.

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.

Write Your Own Baby Naming Vows

Way back when I was planning my first-ever baby naming, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that you could have vows at a baby naming, like you do at a traditional christening. With a christening, the vows are shaped by the Christian tradition, but with a baby naming, you’re freer to write your own rules.

A lot of the vows I came across when I was writing the ceremony were quite sentimental. If you’re sentimental, they’d be a perfect fit, but I decided to put my own spin on them. Inspired by that experience, I’ve put together this blog post to inspire you to write your own vows, promises that you can make to your child and to each other.

Of course, it’s your baby naming. If you don’t want vows, you don’t have to have any. But if you do want to have vows, I hope this post will be useful.

Who Says The Vows?

Again, that’s entirely up to you. You can make vows to each other and to your child. You can ask your guests to say vows together. They can promise to act as your tag team on your great parenting adventure.

You can also appoint guide parents for your child, who can make promises to support your child and guide them through life, much like godparents at a christening.

Format of Vows

The most popular vows are still the question-and-answer vows that you’ll remember from christenings. Or you can just list out the promises you want to make to your child. If you’re feeling nervous, I can call out the list and ask you to repeat it, sentence by sentence.

So, I’m going to have vows in my baby naming ceremony. What vows should I write?

Vows Based On Values

If you have values that you hold very strongly as a person and as a family, you can make promises to uphold those values on behalf of your child. For example, if you value honesty, kindness and respect, you can promise to teach your child to tell the truth, to treat your child with kindness and to show your child how to respect others.

Vows Based On Interests

If you’re a family who’s passionate about a certain hobby, you can use that hobby as a metaphor for your vows. Sport in particular lends itself to this. You can talk about being a cheerleader for your child or supporting them whether they win or lose.

If you’re arty, you can also draw metaphors from the arts. You can promise to help your child turn their life into a masterpiece, help them write their own script or help them strike the right note.

Playful Vows

If the idea of saying vows seems a bit po-faced to you, why not have fun with the idea. You can create vows that reflect the reality of family life, such as promising to love your child when they daub paint on your walls or throw a tantrum in the supermarket.

Or you can promise to turn a blind eye if your child allows three weeks’ worth of plates to accumulate under their bed. It’ll give your guests a laugh but it also outlines an important point – you’re going to accept your child for who they are, warts and all.

Above all, don’t forget the love. You may think it goes without saying, but the most powerful vow you’ll make is the vow to love your child for the rest of their lives, no matter what.

Format of Vows: The most popular vows are still the question-and-answer vows that you’ll remember from christenings. Or you can just list out the promises you want to make to yoru child. If you’re feeling nervous, I can call out the list and ask you to repeat it, sentence by sentence.

I’m conscious as I write this that you may not been able to welcome your child into the world the way they would like. I’m also conscious that your family may not have been able to welcome them either. A baby naming will help you give your child the welcome they deserve and to celebrate their arrival.

Have you held a baby naming? Did you say vows at it? I’d be interested to hear about how you approached the vows. Email info@celebrantderv.ie to share your thoughts.

Strengthen Your Bonds With A Family Ceremony

I’m giving a rather unusual ceremony this Sunday. It’s not a wedding, a funeral or a baby naming. It’s not a coming of age ceremony, which is becoming more and more popular. It’s a family ceremony. Family ceremonies did not come up on the list of ceremonies I learned about on my celebrancy course, but I’ve been approached about giving them a few times since I qualified.

Reasons For Holding a Family Ceremony

Family ceremony is a flexible term for any ceremony that gives you a chance to celebrate your family and the bonds you share. If you’re the sort of couple who don’t like a fuss, your family ceremony makes a low-key, fun alternative to a wedding, anniversary celebration or vow renewal. Do you wish you could have had a baby naming for your older children? It’s not too late – you can celebrate all your children together with a family ceremony.

If you and your partner have children from previous relationships, a blended family ceremony is a great way of bringing you all together and create a new bond. You’re celebrating the shape of your new family and showing everyone in it that they are valued.

Have you recently adopted a child? Why not welcome them into your family with a family joining ceremony. This is particularly valuable if the child you have adopted is older. You are telling them that they have made your family complete.

Family ceremonies are great for families with young children because they’re so inclusive. You’ll have no worries about your children being bored and restless during a ceremony – they’re going to have a starring role in the ceremony.

Because you’ll be celebrating together, they’ll be doing the rituals with you. And if you want to hold their interest, the shorter the better. That’s why I’d recommend keeping your family ceremony at 16 minutes.

So, what happens in a family ceremony?  Well, that’s up to you.

Because it’s such a new type of ceremony, you can feel free to invent your own. But here are some ideas.

The Power of Trees

Trees give life, and as a family, you give life to each other. Celebrate your growing family by planting a tree in your garden. The tree will grow along with your family, and every time you look at it, you’ll be reminded of the special family you shared.

You can also create a tree of life in your garden. You tie ribbons to the branches with pieces of paper attached to them. On those pieces of paper, you can write wishes for the future or words that you feel capture the spirit of your family, like loving, kind or fun.

Making Memories

Memories are the glue that hold a family together, and as part of your ceremony you can create a memory box to capture and store those memories. Ask everyone in the family to share memories of great times you’ve had, in the form of a drawing or a piece of writing.

Then you store them in a special box that you will then hide in the house and open again in five, ten or twenty years’ time. You’ll be able to feast on memories from that day which you might otherwise have lost.

Celebrate Unity

There are lots of colourful family rituals you can do which remind you that your lives as a family are forever intertwined. They help you to strengthen your bonds and remind you that while you’re all individuals, you’re also one unit.

You’re always looking out for each other and always loving each other. Rituals that are ideal for young children include putting your handprints on a page or a family sand ceremony, where each of you pours sand into a decorative pot. These will then become permanent mementos of your day.

This picture shows how you might arrange the sand in a family sand ceremony, to create a perfect memento of your day.

This picture shows two jars of sand, one white and one blue. Beside them is a picture in a frame, made of layers of white and blue sand.

Family Words

You can break up the rituals with more reflective moments – as long as you keep them short. There are lovely poems that capture the magic of childhood or family that you can use as readings.

You may decide you want to make promises to each other as a family. If you’re having a family ceremony as part of a wedding or vow renewal, you can make promises to each other and to your children, and your children can make promises to you.

Family Music

Singing a song together is a truly joyous way of ending a ceremony. It doesn’t matter whether you can sing or not; just belt out those words. Get your children involved in choosing a song.

They might like a song from their favourite film or a silly song that gets everyone up and dancing. Something upbeat that you can dance along to would be perfect, and it’ll leave you with a good taste in your mouth and warmth in your heart.

Have you any thoughts about what you think would make a great family ceremony? Email info@celebrantderv.ie to share your thoughts.

Celebrate Your Wedding Day With A Zoom Wedding

In the next few months, I’m going to be offering virtual wedding ceremonies to couples via Zoom. I never imagined when I qualified that I would be officiating virtual ceremonies. And I’m sure many couples never imagined they’d be celebrating their special days on a screen either. But when it’s a straight choice between spending the day dwelling on what might have been and marking the day with joy, most people will choose joy.

If you’re choosing joy and choosing a Zoom wedding, it’s important to get one thing out of the way. It’s not going to be the same as your wedding day. That day will come, if you have a new date fixed. This ceremony is just a way to keep the dream of your wedding alive, and to remind yourselves that in these strange times, your love remains strong.

Your Zoom wedding will still be very meaningful. You can dress up in your wedding clothes. Your loved ones will be there to celebrate – from a distance. Zoom allows you to invite up to 100 people to a meeting, so you’ll have an audience. And your Zoom wedding will include all the ingredients that make a wedding ceremony special. They’ll just be modified for the virtual world.

Preparing for Your Ceremony

I know you’re probably worried about the technology and whether it will let you down. That’s why we’ll have a rehearsal before your virtual ceremony, to iron out any kinks. We’ll check your connection, your sound and your lighting. Lighting can be really tricky. You want daylight but you don’t want too much glare. A lot of problems can be solved by drawing the curtains or pegging a sheet to a window. As long as you can be seen in all your glory, that’s what matters.

Next comes the question: to record or not to record. When we’re planning your Zoom wedding, I’ll ask you if you want it recorded. If you say yes, then just before the ceremony starts, I’ll tell all your guests that the ceremony is being recorded for posterity. If they don’t want to be part of the recording, I can turn off their screens so they won’t be seen.

Virtual ceremonies are just as much about the look as about the words. Why not decorate the room where you’ll be for the ceremony just as you would dress the ceremony room in a hotel? You can also ask your guests to dress up according to a theme. One celebrant on a celebrant forum I’m part of shared her experience of officiating an Easter wedding where all the guests were asked to wear yellow.  

Now, let’s talk about the day of your Zoom wedding. What will happen?

Your Entrance: In the real world, you’d make a grand entrance, either together or alone, with your partner waiting. For your Zoom wedding, you’ll be the first ones invited to the Zoom room, and you’ll wait for your guests to join you.

All your guests will be put on mute, to cut down any background noise that might spoil the atmosphere. Only your screen will be left unmuted, because you are the heroes of the house. I’ll let your guests know that they’ll be on mute.

Readings: Readings will come across well on Zoom. You can involve one of your guests by asking them to deliver the reading. I’ll send you a selection of readings the way I would for a real-world ceremony, and then you pick one and choose someone you know will be comfortable with reading it.

This picture shows a couple who had a Zoom wedding in their home, dressed in their wedding clothes.

This photo shows a couple in their wedding clothes, getting married via Zoom. They have a white wall in the background, and the room is decorated with tall plants in plots. {Photo Credit: BBC News.

Rituals: You can carry out rituals online the way you would in the real world. You can light candles for a unity candle ceremony or you can do a handfasting if you have someone else in the house to tie the ribbons for you. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, you can gather sand for a sand ceremony.

A couple of fun, low maintenance rituals you can do include blowing bubbles to make a wish and giving each other a rose as a symbol of eternal love. And everyone will see you doing the rituals. You’ll be in Gallery View on Zoom, which means all eyes will be on you.

Music: As we’ve probably all experienced, music can be tricky on Zoom. It’s probably easier not to have music at your Zoom wedding, for copyright reasons as well as reasons of sound.

But if your professional musician is willing, you could ask them to play you a song at the start and the end of the ceremony. Or you could ask a musical member of your family to play or sing for you.

The End: I’ll pronounce you married in whatever way you wish, just as I would in a real-world ceremony. Then a lovely way to round off a Zoom wedding is to ask everyone to raise a glass for you, to toast your future happiness. It’ll finish your ceremony on a festive note. I’ll then leave the meeting and let you all get on with chatting to each other, so you can keep the party going a little while longer.

If you want to find out more about how to organise a Zoom wedding, you can call me on 00 353 87 6959799 or email info@celebrantderv.ie.

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