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.

How to Fill Your Secular Ceremony With Meaning

Last week, I talked about how to add spirituality to your ceremony. But spirituality isn’t for everyone. So, this week, I’ve decided to concentrate on secular ceremonies, which I’m also delighted to offer as an independent celebrant.

I believe a secular ceremony is just as meaningful. It gives you the freedom to be true to who you are and to share the values are important to you, whether that’s friends and family, nature or creativity. And above all, you get to show people how much you love each other.

In this week’s blog post, I’m going to share some rituals, readings and music that I hope will inspire you to plan the perfect secular ceremony.

Ideas for Readings

There’s a wealth of beautiful literature that you can dip into for ceremony readings, poems that eloquently express your deepest feelings. You can go for a classic poem from Shakespeare, Dickinson or Yeats, or try a fresh, modern voice like Raymond Carver or ee cummings.

This is a quote from a poem by ee cummings, which is popular at weddings and vow renewals.
A quirky poem by ee cummings, which expresses love in an offbeat way. Suitable for any ceremony, but particularly weddings.

Plenty of people write poems specifically for ceremonies, like ‘A Message to My Child by Jessica Weslock’, which is popular for baby namings. I’m also dying to show people poems written by writer friends of mine. If they choose those poems, that can be sure that those poems will be completely new to the people who attend your ceremony.

Meaningful Rituals

We all need rituals in our lives, no matter what your beliefs are. Rituals are as old as time, and they’re powerful symbols of love, unity and family. You can choose a ritual for your ceremony that fits with who you are. Wedding rituals like sand ceremonies and unity candle ceremonies are a powerful reminder that you are now united.

Rituals for baby namings like creating a memory box or planting a tree help you make memories. You can then share those memories with your child as they grow up. And at a funeral, you can find comfort in rituals like offering gifts and lighting candles, which show that your loved one’s light will never go out.

If you want to find out what rituals you can avail of, hop onto my ceremonies page. Then pick the ceremony you’re most interested in finding out about.

Musical Moments

Music adds joy to a wedding or baby naming ceremony and can bring great comfort to mourners at a funeral. For a secular ceremony, your choice is wide open. You can be guided by your own musical tastes, whether you like a heartfelt guitar ballad, a dramatic song from the musicals or even some heavy metal!

For traditionalists, the sweet strains of classical music can add a touch of class to your ceremony. At the end of a baby naming I officiated, we all sang ‘The Bare Necessities.’ What a glorious way to end the ceremony!

I would be only too happy to chat to you about your secular ceremony. Being an independent celebrant gives me a brilliant excuse to chat about poetry, music and candles.

Drop me an email on info@celebrantderv.ie

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.

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