So you’re planning a ceremony.. Congratulations!
For thousands of years, humans have used ceremony to help us adapt to change and strengthen our sense of belonging and personal identity..
Ceremony is a powerful medium through which to announce intentions, express love, celebrate life’s new beginnings, honour accomplishments, and make our farewells.
Here are some simple principles to keep in mind, to help you achieve the kind of experience you’re hungering for…
One: Figure out what is most important and keep it firmly in your line of sight
The first step to a truly fulfilling ceremony experience is to get really clear for yourself what is most important to you..
We’ve all encountered ’empty’ ceremony at some time or another. It’s the kind of experience that feels like ‘going through the motions’ or ‘all form and no substance’. It does not leave you feeling enlivened or uplifted.
On the other hand, when ceremony is a channel for authentic emotion, when it helps us to contact an experience which is both very personal and at the same time a universal human truth, it has the power to ‘move’ us both emotionally and spiritually.
So, when you find yourself at one of those traditional (or not so traditional) points which turn your thoughts toward ceremony, the first and most helpful step you can take is to begin to reflect more deeply about what it really means to you to create or participate in this ceremony.
What prompted you to get married? What does getting married mean to you? What kinds of promises do you wish to make or receive as part of this ceremony?
What started you thinking about holding a naming ceremony for your child? If you are thinking of appointing god-parents, mentors or guardians, what do you see their role as being?
Is there a special significance to the timing of your ceremony?
Some of our reasons for wanting a ceremony will arise from our recent experiences, what is going on in our lives right now. Other reasons will stem from much earlier experiences in our lives – and the web of personal beliefs, emotional associations and core values we have internalised from them. Delve deeper into whatever has prompted you to think about holding a ceremony, to see if you can figure out what it is that your spirit is hungry for.
Perhaps you are seeking a way to express and share your own feelings of love and/or a sense of gratitude for the blessings you’ve received.
Perhaps you are needing to affirm and enhance your own sense of belonging – to strengthen your sense of loving connection to family and friends.
Perhaps your spirit is hungry for some recognition of your accomplishments, a celebration of your growth and maturation as a person. Or perhaps you are helping to create this ceremony for someone you love, as a way of honouring their growth and contributions to your family or community.
Perhaps it is important to you to feel the sense of certainty and reassurance that comes from connecting with a sense of history and tradition. Or prehaps for you the need for variety, to find your own unique twist on a common human theme is equally or more important.
Chances are good that as you begin to get clear about what is most important to you in holding this ceremony, you will find yourself reflecting about what is most important to you in your life more generally.
You can try this process in reverse also. Thinking about what is most important to you about the way you live your life can help you get clearer about what matters the most for you in the way that your ceremony is designed and conducted.
Achieving this kind of congruence between your ceremony and your core values will help assure you of a more meaningful ceremony experience – one which will touch your own heart as well as the hearts of those around you.
It is a basic energetic law that whatever you focus on you will get more of.
This is true whether that focus is a creative conscious intention or a less-conscious belief that we have about ourselves and the world. So if we’re going to get the best from our ceremony experience, it helps to have a clear positive intention about the kind of experience we are wanting to create.
How do you want to feel as you reach the end of this ceremony experience?How do you want those around you to be feeling?
Write your conclusions down and put them where you can see them as you go about the business of organising your event. This is especially important for those who are planning a wedding with a very long planning horizon. Use your written intention for your ceremony like a compass to help you stay on track with your preparations.