Ceremonies For You

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.

The beauty of Ceremonies For You is that you can celebrate whatever you want.

Here are a few ideas for moments you might want to celebrate.

Milestone Ceremony

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.  

Friendship Ceremony

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.

This picture shows nine boxes, with nine women in each box. I'm in the second row on the left, wearing a tall grey hat and a red cape.
This is a group of women that I created a special Ceremony of Transformation for. It would loosely come under the category of Friendship Ceremony. All the action happened on Zoom and it felt just like the real thing.

Commitment Ceremony

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 info@celebrantderv.ie 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.

How Long Is A Celebrant-Led Ceremony

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.

This photo illustrates the idea that timing is important for ceremonies.
There’s a picture of an old-style alarm clock. It’s black and white and has bells on it. There’s a hand pressing one of the bells.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Vow Renewals

Vow renewal ceremonies aren’t just for celebrities. In a vow renewal ceremony, you’re renewing your commitment to each other and celebrating how far you’ve come. A vow renewal gives you a chance to have the wedding you always wanted, second time round. I can help you organise a creative vow renewal ceremony that celebrates who you are now, as a couple and as a family.

This photo is of a couple who I officiated a vow renewal ceremony for. It aims to show what a relaxed, low-key event your vow renewal can be.
Here’s a happy couple I did a vow renewal/family ceremony for. The man and woman are standing close together, with tall trees behind them. Photo courtesy of the couple.

Do you have Irish roots? Why not renew your vows in Ireland? I’ve got loads of ideas for a vow renewal ceremony that will help you connect with your Irish ancestry. You can have a Celtic vow renewal filled with ancient rituals like handfasting ceremonies, the tying of hands with ribbons.

Have a look at this video, which will show you what a vow renewal ceremony looks like.

Video from DS Media that shows you what a vow renewal will look like.

I will help you plan your vow renewal ceremony with the same care as if it was your wedding. You have found each other again and your love is stronger than ever. That kind of commitment deserves to be celebrated.  If you like the sound of that, give me a call on 0876959799 or email info@celebrantderv.ie.

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