Ensure that the ceremony you get is the one you really want!
Step One – Choosing a celebrant
Your celebrant will have a strong influence on the look and feel of your ceremony, so it’s important to choose one who is a good fit with your personal values and desires for your ceremony. See How to Choose the Right Celebrant for You
If you’d like me to co-create a ceremony with you, the first step is to make contact by phone or email or by using the enquiry form on this website. We can then have a brief chat about the kind of ceremony you are imagining, and make an appointment for an initial planning consultation.
Step Two – Clarifying the intent
The most moving, memorable ceremonies are ones which truly reflect the person – your unique qualities, needs and values – and actively engage the circle of community around you. Such a ceremony builds a shared sense of meaningfulness and connection. When the intention behind the ceremony is clear, the resulting experience is so much more powerful.
For this reason, I generally begin the ceremony design process with an initial consultation oriented toward drawing out the story of your personal journey. The intention here is to help clarify not only the who, what, when, where and how of your ceremony, but most importantly, to delve deeper into the why of it.
What is the feeling that you aspire to create – for yourself and significant others – through enacting this ceremony?
- Will it be an intimate occasion with a few close friends or family members? Or an opportunity to bring the whole tribe together?
- What cultural heritages and/or spiritual orientations do you bring with you? How might these be acknowledged or reflected in your ceremony?
- Where do you envision holding this ceremony – indoors? Outdoors – in a garden, in a park, by the sea or the river, or in a bush setting? What is the personal significance of this location for you?
- What time of day do you imagine it happening: morning, afternoon or evening? Why? What do you imagine will happen beforehand? and afterwards?
Step Three – Gathering resources
What have you seen done elsewhere, or perhaps read about, that appeals to you? Now is the time to gather ideas.
In planning ceremonies, I generally provide my clients with a range of ideas gathered from contemporary and traditional ceremonies- so that they can pick and mix the bits that appeal to them. There is also a wealth of material publicly available through the internet.
Some elements you might like to consider include:
- Preparatory rituals for opening ceremonial/sacred space
- Inspirational readings or poetry
- Acknowledgement of parents or other special guests
- Symbolic cleansing for a new beginning
- Symbolic rituals of joining, such as hand-binding, candle-lighting, exchange of gifts
- Opportunities for witnesses and guests to actively participate in the ceremony in some way
Once you know what your intention for the ceremony is, and where and when it might happen, it gets easier to recognise which elements will work best for you.
Step Four – Bringing it together
A ceremony is a little bit like a story. It has a beginning – which sets the scene and prepares the way for what is coming, a middle – the part where you enact your commitment to each other, and a conclusion – where what has been done is reaffirmed and sealed with the blessings of all present.
Your celebrant will discuss your ideas and put a draft ceremony together for you. You will want to read through the ceremony outline to make sure that it makes sense to you and that you are comfortable with the flow of action and the language used. If you are asking other people to play a role in the ceremony, please make sure you check that they know what will be expected of them, and are happy to participate.
Most of the ceremonies I perform take between 30 and 45 minutes. If you are planning a longer ceremony, you will want to ensure that everyone is going to be comfortable and engaged. Nothing worse than being stuck in the sun for too long, feeling confused or unable to hear what’s going on.
A note about multi-cultural and inter-faith ceremonies :
I very much enjoy working with people from a variety of faith traditions, as well as those whose spiritual path does not have a particular name, to create a ceremony which will respect and reflect their personal beliefs and values. I am happy to include any religious or cultural symbolism that makes sense for you, and/or to work collaboratively with a religious celebrant of your choice.
Step Five – Walk-through or rehearsal
Depending upon the nature of the ceremony (eg. chosen venue, number of guests, etc) a follow-up consultation/walk-through to finalise preparations for the ceremony in your chosen venue may be appropriate.
Step Six – Creating a special space
You may choose to hold your ceremony in your own home or garden, hire a venue, or choose an outdoor location such as a public park or beach.
Attention to the way the space is arranged and decorated is an important part of preparation for a truly special experience. I can advise on simple touches – such as colour choices, placement of special symbolic items, flowers, candles, etc – which can transform your ritual space into someplace out of the ordinary.
On the day of the ceremony, I will arrive at the venue 30 minutes early, and can assist with set up of any special items required for the ceremony.
Step Seven – Enacting the ceremony
You may choose to make your special ceremony quite intimate, inviting only the closest of your friends or family-members to be with you. Or you may wish to plan a larger celebration involving a more expansive circle of community. In either case, engaging a professional celebrant means that you can hand over your responsibilities as hostess for the duration of the ceremony and allow yourself to be fully centred in your own experience of this special occasion.
As your celebrant, it is part of my role to draw people together and set the stage by briefly outlining how the ceremony will unfold. As we gather the people together, I find it helpful to remind them of your intention for this ceremony, and to invite them to hold this in their hearts and minds as we open a special/sacred space for you.
When we are ready to begin, I will formally open the ceremony and then guide the smooth flow of words and actions and the subtle energy these generate. As the celebrant, I am responsible for managing the pacing of the ceremony, and for modelling and drawing people into participation in the appropriate places. And I bring the ceremony to a close when we are done.