When you think of a ceremony, you think baby naming, wedding, vow renewal. As an independent celebrant, I deliver all those ceremonies and I’m delighted to do so. But what if you don’t get married? What if you don’t have a child? Does that mean you don’t get to have a ceremony?
Yes, you can have a ceremony. Not only that, but you deserve to have a ceremony. You deserve to celebrate you. That’s why I’ve created Ceremonies For You – to help you celebrate who you are, what you’ve achieved and the positive choices you’ve made. You decide what life event you want to celebrate, and I’ll create a ceremony especially for you and the people who matter most to you.
Here are a few ideas for moments you might want to celebrate.
Have you beaten cancer? Did you finish a college degree later in life? Have you started the career of your dreams? You can celebrate these and loads of other great life events with a Milestone Ceremony. In this ceremony, you’ll have the chance to reflect on your achievements with your loved ones and look forward to a brighter future.
For many of us, our friends are as important as our family. If your friendship group is celebrating a special anniversary, say 20 years since you met at college, or just want an excuse for a party, you can have a ceremony to celebrate your friendship. You can share memories of fun times and celebrate the wonderful qualities that have held you together as a group.
If you’ve found someone that you know you can commit to for the rest of your life, that’s worth celebrating. You can have a commitment ceremony which allows you to come together in freedom and promise to commit to each other forever. In your commitment ceremony, you can do rituals that strengthen your bonds and celebrate the family unit you’ve created.
If you want a ceremony that’s outside the box, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 6959799. This is a ceremony for you, so feel free to come to me with any ideas you may have. I’m looking forward to helping you create a ceremony that celebrates you.
In my blog posts, I tend to focus on what goes into a ceremony – for example last week, I spoke to you about the love story. But there’s another important aspect to a celebrant-led ceremony that’s also important and that you mightn’t have thought about – how long a ceremony is.
You may be delighted to know that a ceremony led by an independent celebrant is a lot shorter than a traditional ceremony. Because we’re not bound by any legal or religious obligations, there are fewer procedures for us to follow, so we can deliver your ceremony in as much or as little time as you want.
In a way, asking how long a ceremony is like asking how long is a piece of string. You’ll decide the length. Sometimes people do want a long ceremony with loads of rituals. Some people like it brief and to the point. There is no right or wrong way. There is just your way.
Still, there are average lengths of time that a ceremony can last for, so I’ll give you a run-through here.
First, the big one – weddings
Your average celebrant-led wedding will be around 30 minutes long. Within that, you’ll usually fit in two readings, three pieces of music, a love story, a ring and vow exchange and that all important pronouncement. You’ll be surprised how fast the time goes. I know I always am!
Then there are baby namings.
At baby namings, there are lots of little ones in the audience, so I’ll make it snappy. The first time I did a baby naming, it was 30 minutes long, but with the benefit of hindsight, I’d go for 15 minutes, 20 minutes tops. I’d concentrate on rituals, with a quick reading to break those up. In that time, depending on how many people are involved, we could get three rituals done.
Now for vow renewals
The length of a vow renewal will depend on the type of vow renewal cereninbt you’re going for. Some people want their vow renewal to be like a wedding. In that case, the vow renewal will take about 30 minutes. But some people prefer a no-frills vow renewal with an emphasis on family rituals. In that case, the ceremony can be completed in 15-20 minutes.
And finally, funerals
The length of a funeral will also depend on the type of funeral you’ve chosen. A ceremony in a crematorium will take 20 minutes because that’s the length of the slot you’re given, and there’ll be other cremations taking place after you. Or you may just want a brief graveside or scattering of ashes ceremony and those would take about 10-15 minutes. On the other end of the scale, you may be holding the funeral or memorial service in a funeral home, a public venue or in your own home. There’ll be no time limits, so you can go for a true celebration of life that can last for up to an hour.
Why A Short Ceremony
There are lots of reasons why a short ceremony is a good idea. One is attention span. Our heavy use of social media and smartphones has cut our attention span to the bone. So, if I keep it short and snappy. I’ll be sure to hold the attention of the crowd.
Also, the sooner I finish my ceremony, the sooner you can get on with celebrating your day, and there’s no way a celebrant like me would want to hijack that precious family time. After all, as celebrants we’re all about family.
Whether you want a brief but brilliant ceremony or a long and lavish celebration, I’ll be here for you. Give me a call on 087 6959799.
When I was training as a funeral celebrant, we frequently talked about what we would do if we were overcome by emotion. At a funeral, you’re exposed to people when they’re in a raw state of grief, and you’re bound to feel that grief, and to remember griefs in your own life. So, we asked ourselves this question.
Is it okay for us celebrants to give in to their emotion and cry during a ceremony?
Many people in our group came to the conclusion that it was okay to shed tears, as long as you kept control of your delivery and carried on with the ceremony. Crying would allow you to show your human face, to show that you empathise with the people you’re delivering the ceremony to.
But I feel myself that I’d prefer not to cry, at funerals or at any other ceremony.
I have huge respect for my fellow funeral celebrants. They are full of compassion, and they’re comfortable showing that compassion through tears. I’m just concerned that if I cry, it’ll lessen the impact of the story I’m trying to tell. People will hear the tears, not the words.
All ceremonies are emotional, whether it’s a wedding, funeral or baby naming. But the emotion belongs to the people at the centre of the ceremony and their family and friends, not to me. It is their grief, their love, their joy. I’m there to be a channel for that emotion, to help them process it through the words I write and deliver.
If I’m doing a ceremony for you, I want that ceremony to be about you, not me. After the ceremony is over, I don’t want people to be talking about the poor celebrant who was in floods of tears and wondering if I’m all right. I want them to be talking about the moment the couple said I do, or about what a beautiful reading the family chose for their loved one’s funeral.
There are a few techniques I will use to channel my emotions and stop myself from becoming overwhelmed.
Seems obvious, but when you’re emotional, your breath is the first thing to go. Your chest gets tight and your breath becomes shallow. It becomes really hard to think straight. We were taught breathing techniques on our celebrant training course that help you control your voice and your stress.
When I see a bride walk up the aisle or a family filing in behind a coffin, I’ll breathe in for a count of and out for a count of eight. This brings welcome oxygen into my body and gives me something to concentrate on while I wait to deliver my ceremony.
When I’m preparing for a ceremony, I can spot which parts of the ceremony are likely to set off a wave of emotion in your ceremony guests – and in me. It could be the lighting of a memorial candle.
Or it could be words I say that will show you the true significance of this ceremony. You are welcoming a child into the world. You are committing to each other for life. When I come to these delicate parts of the ceremony, I can let the wave of emotion pass without letting it spill over.
Find A Spot On The Wall
At times of high emotion, distraction can be useful. It takes you away from that emotion for a moment and gives you something else to focus on. When I reach those heart moments, I’ll pick a spot in front of me to look at.
Since ceremony venues are often beautiful places, it’s easy to find something to direct my gaze at – flowers, trees, even a guest’s beautiful dress. I let my brain fill with that image and that gets me past the emotional danger zone.
Of course I know there are going to be times when emotion will get the better of me, when the circumstances surrounding a ceremony are particularly poignant.
Or sometimes I’ll just bond with a family and tap more easily into the emotion they’re feeling. If that happens, I will take a deep breath and carry on. And I’ll let my tears be absorbed into the emotion of the day.
What would you think of a celebrant that sheds tears during a ceremony? I’d love to hear your perspectives. You can email me on email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A baby naming or welcoming ceremony is a wonderful way to welcome your child into the world. It celebrates where the child has come from and looks forward to the brilliant future that lies ahead for them. You can choose a baby naming that’s spiritual or completely secular. It’s up to you.
Have a look at this video, which will show you how baby naming celebrants deliver their ceremonies
Rituals for Baby Namings
Here’s a flavour of the beautiful baby naming rituals you can choose from for your ceremony. These rituals fall into two broad categories
Making Memories: If you want to capture this special moment in your child’s life, create a memory box or time capsule filled with precious mementos. Or plant a tree in your garden that will grow along with your child.
Wishes for the Future: Everyone at your baby naming ceremony will be full of good wishes for your child’s future. Let them share their wishes by using them to a wishing tree, lighting candles or blowing bubbles.
I’d be delighted to create a baby naming ceremony that fits the shape of your family. You can message me: email@example.com and I’ll work with you to create a baby naming that’s full of creativity, love and joy.