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.

My Wonderful Week of Celebrancy

Marketing experts advise you that your blog posts should be SEO friendly. They should solve problems for people and educate people about the big world of celebrancy, and that’ll make it easy for Dr Google to find them. I’m happy to follow that advice most of the time, but sometimes I just need to let rip and share the joy of my job.

This is just such a week. I did have a sensible blog post planned, and I’ll bring that to you next week, but this week, I want to celebrate. It’s been a wonderful week in my life as an independent celebrant, the biggest week since I qualified. And it’s not over yet.

In these strange times, it’s hard to find the balance between carrying on with your business and being sensitive to the stress people are under. But I wanted to share my success with you, to show that even in these times, there is still cause for celebration. It’s okay to be happy. And it’s okay to dream of better times to come.

So, here’s a rundown of my big, wonderful celebrant week.

Monday – Flagging Celebrant Directory Blog

I put up a boast on social media about the fact that I’m to be a guest blogger on The Celebrant Directory on Friday. I thought I’d generate a bit of excitement about the blog post first, and I got lots of lovely comments on social media. I started to feel like an influencer!

Tuesday – Got Local Media Coverage

I was featured in an article in one of my local papers, the Waterford News and Star. I was interviewed by the lovely Dymphna Nugent (the_english_teacher_ on Instagram) for a column called Well Said, where local people reflect on life and what makes them tick. As someone who grew up in a large family, I welcome any chance to talk about myself without interruption! And I was delighted to have the chance to share my passion for all things celebrant.

Wednesday – Booked A Wedding

I confirmed a booking for a wedding! This has been bubbling for a little while. Through this fine website, I was contacted by a couple living in America who are already legally married. They’re planning a wedding in October in a rather lovely hotel called Barnabrow House in East Cork, near the groom’s home town. I’ll be sharing all the details with you as they evolve. We’re being optimistic that everything will happen as planned – we’re daring to dream.

This is a picture of Barnabrow House in Midleton, East Cork, where I’m planning to deliver an autumn wedding ceremony.
Photo Credit: Barnabrow House

Thursday – Virtual Vow Renewal

Amazing how all your ships come in at once. I made an arrangement to do a virtual vow renewal in early June. I’ll be at my home near the sea in Tramore, Co. Waterford, and this couple will be in a forest clearing in West Cork with their children, many miles away. But my ceremonial words will reach them through the magic of Zoom.

Friday – Guest Blog Post Day

Friday 1 May is the schedule date for my blog post on The Celebrant Directory. I’ll have access to zillions of eyeballs on this site, which is an international directory of celebrants. It also offers marketing tips and inspiration to celebrants. I’m hoping that my post, a shinier version of the post I wrote for this blog about legal wedding ceremonies in Ireland, will add to that vibe of inspiration. I’ll stick up a link to it on this blog tomorrow so you won’t miss it.

If you are missing a chance to celebrate big occasions with your family, I’d love to help you find ways around it. These special moments deserve to be marked, and planning a celebration will give you something to look forward to. You can email me on info@celebrantderv.ie or call 087 6959799.

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.

Why I Really Love Being A Celebrant

You could describe being a celebrant as a journey. Many people do. But to me, a journey involves a car, a train or a plane. I prefer to think of celebrancy as a quest. On a quest, you set out to find something that’s very valuable, and you discover important things about yourself along the way. I’ve discovered the things that I love about being a celebrant and the benefits it brings to me and to the people I work with. And it’s been very exciting.

Here are just a few of the things I love about being a celebrant.

I can create moments of wonder

As a celebrant, I’m privileged to witness the most amazing moments in people’s lives. And my ceremonies are designed to help people experience the wonder of those moments. You can see light dawn on their faces as they realise what this ceremony actually means. They are committing to this person for the rest of their lives. They have brought a new person into the world, a person with a brilliant future ahead of them. They are vowing to deepen their commitment to each other. That’s what all the fuss is all about.

My words can make a difference

I love words and I love telling stories. Being a celebrant gives me the chance to tell brilliant stories, stories of love, faith, hope and courage. I love writing words that make each ceremony unique and that help people to express their true feelings for each other. And I love saying those words on the day of the ceremony. With my words, I can bring joy and comfort to people at the most important times in their lives. It’s amazing to know that my words can have a real impact on people’s lives.

Here I am, getting ready for another celebrant adventure (Photo Credit: Dermot Byrne Photography)

It broadens my outlook as a person

As a celebrant, I’m working with people from a wide range of backgrounds, who have different values from me. People who choose a celebrant for their marriage often embrace alternative lifestyles. They have different ideas about what makes up a family. They make ethical life choices, like the choice to be vegan or completely green. I’m very curious about the different ways that people live their lives. And I value the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view.

I get to have adventures

A good quest always has an element of adventure to it, and celebrancy is full of adventures. They’re adventures of the mind, the heart and the spirit, which are my favourite kind. I work from home, so I’m delighted that my celebrancy work gets me out beyond the four walls. I meet extraordinary people and get a glimpse into their world. And I have the chance to travel beautiful, scenic places. I always leaving a ceremony exhilarated by the richness of the experience.

I’m hoping to keep on adventuring and carrying on with my celebrant quest. If you’d like to be part of that quest, drop me a line on info@celebrantderv.ie.

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