It’s always good to celebrate a happy occasion or event! We rather got out of the habit of marking special days because of lockdown. Now we are less timid. And it’s genuinely important to hold such occasions. They are something to look forward to. They help bring people together and encourage a positive mind-set.
If you agree, the next question may be “What shall I celebrate?”.
It sounds obvious, but may repay some restating.
The following is not exhaustive (I’m only choosing three out of many possibilities), but these are the sort of ceremonies I have most often been conducting for people in the decade or so that I have been a celebrant.
One lovely way to foster a spirit of joy, unity and support is to celebrate a wedding. The choices are many – not least, the type of ceremony and then the reception. I cover these in other blogs, so will only mention here a couple of areas that you can explore.
The type of ceremony can be religious (eg church), secular (Register Office) or a combination (civil celebrant).
The venue (depending on the type of ceremony you choose) can be in your church, simply in the Register Office, or at a hotel, say, or less conventionally, in the open air.
The reception can be formal or not and can cater for all ranges and types.
You may well be approaching an anniversary that ends in -5 or -0. Why not organise an event to mark it?
Or things have changed, and you want to redo and/or proclaim your vows.
The beauty of a Vow renewal is that you have no ties or restrictions. With a wedding, certain words must be uttered (and witnessed); in this case, the wording is up to you (working together with your celebrant). You can celebrate wherever you want – some of the Vow Renewals where I have officiated have ranged from a canal towpath to a tepee to a plush hotel. You can choose a venue that has significance for you. Likewise, the ceremony content can be entirely open to your input.
And then you can mark the event with a reception of your choice.
I have deliberately not called this section “Baby Namings”. Of course, most people think of babies when it comes to namings, and I have been invited to do a number of these and they have been beautiful, meaningful ceremonies.
However, you can hold naming ceremonies for older people, even adults. The reason could be that someone was never baptised, say, and wants some kind of recognition. You may have adopted a child, so such a ceremony would be appropriate. Or maybe you are blending two families (each with children), so this would be a suitable way to mark the event.
It is possible to mark many other events (even including a separation!), but I hope I have got you thinking how you may be able to celebrate a special occasion. If so, feel free to contact me for more input and help!
Looking back on one of my posts from about a year ago (“Expectations”), I see how accurately I foresaw that this year would go. I advised ignoring fear and pessimism, and encouraged booking those weddings, vow renewals, namings, handfastings, and the like.
In the event, we had no more lockdowns or sudden changes of law, and all has gone pretty smoothly.
Before I claim to be an infallible soothsayer, I have to admit that I didn’t hit the mark with every prediction the previous year! So feel free to take my words with a pinch of the proverbial!
However, encouraged by my recent success, I do suggest the following.
Definitely, go for it. If you want to mark an occasion in a special way. Don’t hold back. Although we don’t know – of course! – what lies round the next corner, there’s no point hesitating from fear or apprehension. As I write, there’s no major threat hanging over us. So, why defer?
If you have the excuse to celebrate, then do so! We haven’t had a lot of joy in the last few years, so let’s make up for it!
Another bonus lies on the horizon. Mind you, this is speculation at present …
You may know that Parliament is currently debating amendments to the marriage laws. What these might mean is that independent celebrants (yes, such as me!) might be able to conduct legally-binding marriages. A decision is unlikely to be reached before July, and then the celebrant will have to be trained and vetted, so it may not happen in 2023. And it’s no forgone conclusion. However, it’s something that can be looked forward to (I just hope it gets passed).
If it happens, it will make the whole registering process so much simpler. You’ll be able to ask me (for example!) to conduct the ceremony of your dreams and also do the legal bits at one and the same time. That may also work out cheaper, but it will certainly be more convenient. Well, let’s see how that pans out.
I predict that it will happen – let’s see if I’m right again!
Photo by Susanna Marsiglia on Unsplash
It’s not that easy to come up with a useful or informative blog every week. Even less so under Lockdown. Hardly anything is happening in the world of weddings. Still less in the world of Vow Renewals and Namings. But so much seems to be happening in the world of funerals that it’s impossible to keep up!
So, rather than tell you what you already know or something that is already out of date, here is a bit about me and how I found myself in the world of celebrancy.
I came from a lower middle-class Ealing home, and was pretty conventional till my mid 40s. To summarise incisively, I was a teacher for 25 years, but was to lose my mojo. In fact, I definitely experienced a mid-life crisis, and went through a pretty unpleasant couple of years.
However, unexpectedly, this became a time for personal development. I went into network marketing (health and wellness). I loved the products and that I could help others in quite surprising ways, but the money wasn’t to be earned there (to prosper you need to build teams, and I wasn’t great at that). So I lost a lot of money – yet I have never completely stopped this work.
On the other hand, network marketing demands personal study and growth. I read self-help books, attended workshops and even took on a coach. I began to change, quite without realising it.
When the opportunity for something quite different arose three or so years later, I was ready for it (at least, subconsciously).
The Damascene moment
I met a civil celebrant at a business networking meeting. Having never heard of such a job, I asked him what it entailed. His enthusiasm was infectious, and I was almost hooked. I rang him soon afterwards with a few questions – one of which was “how do I train?” Decision made.
So I trained. I plunged into a profession that I might have dismissed earlier. After all, as far as I had been concerned, a wedding was either a full religious or a secular Register Office ceremony. Surely people shouldn’t be encouraged to choose how their big day should be marked?!
I had been used (by and large) to teaching and presenting. That was largely a one-way process (the way I did it!). My new profession would encourage me to go beneath the surface. I had to help people make their own (informed) choices. It would involve listening to people and understanding their vision by asking the right questions. I would have to guide and advise them, working together with them to achieve their dream. The icing on the cake would be attending beautiful venues to conduct a wonderful ceremony and sharing in their delight.
Seven years down the line, I am still in love with my profession. As I have worked at my delivery, business results have become better – but that was until Coronavirus. Now crystal-ball-gazing is impossible and I may have to rebuild my business from the bottom up.
However, I am optimistic. The work will be out there – after all, why shouldn’t people mark their big day as they would wish? I intend to continue to be available and to deliver an excellent service.
I shall be delighted to deliver dreams as before.
I make no apology for adding a few random thoughts to the thousands of COVID-19-related posts already published. It’s a pandemic, after all, so we can’t help but be affected in some way. Moreover, nobody really knows what will happen next.
I am a civil celebrant, not a doctor. My thoughts may not resonate as sensible or practical. Things are moving very quickly. What I say today may be invalid by tomorrow. However, here goes.
From my perspective, I am currently still being asked to conduct funerals. At my latest, I had planned to invite the mourners to use discretion and be aware of the possible consequences of making physical contact with each other. However, as soon as they met, they fell into each others’ arms, so there was no point. It’s a difficult one, because a funeral is so emotive, and touch can be so welcome, even necessary.
For my part, I apologised individually, but declined physical contact.
It may well
be that funerals as we know them will be suspended in favour of direct
cremation, say. That means that there would be no ceremony whatsoever (although
a memorial service could be organised for when things have calmed down).
At the moment, I am contacting families by phone and giving them the option of discussing the Order of Service in their home or by phone/Skype etc. Nobody has asked me to make the house call, but if I did, I would again decline physical contact with them, and would take precautions, such as not eating or drinking anything, and use plenty of hand wash.
At the time of writing, gatherings of more than 40 people are being discouraged. That may very well impact on weddings, vow renewals, namings and the like. The latter two could probably be postponed without too much trauma, as they usually entail much less planning than a wedding.
likely to be bigger and to have been planned from a year or so back. Deposits
will have been paid, at the very least, and cancellation penalties may exist in
the terms and conditions of some suppliers. Hopefully, such penalties will not
be invoked under the circumstances, and insurance cover may be in place anyway.
I think that the next two weeks will see the virus peak over here, and, hopefully, after that, normality will be restored, at least gradually. My advice to couples is not to panic and don’t cancel unless you are told to. You have more chance of being reimbursed if you respond to the government instructions, rather than assuming the worst and second-guessing. True, you want to give maximum notice to guests, but these are unique circumstances. It may be worthwhile getting in contact with them, though, to reassure them that they are not forgotten.
So “wait and
see” is my advice, frustrating as it may be, and hope and pray that the gods
will be with you.
At the very
least, you’ll probably have some stories to tell your grandchildren one day …!
When you’re preparing for a major life-cycle event, there are crucial decisions to be made. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a wedding, vow renewal, naming ceremony or even a funeral; you’re going to want to get it right.
Getting it right will depend on your choices as well as your budget. This is a mighty subject, so I propose to limit myself to weddings today.
Crucial decisions will, of course, vary from couple to couple. For some, flowers will be absolutely essential as a component of the wedding; others may see them as a desirable extra. People will normally want photographers/videographers, and these need to be chosen carefully (see my blog on this).
The most important decisions will surely revolve around the ceremony and the reception.
Will you have a full religious wedding in a religious building? The ceremony may well include the legal bits, which can be handy. But logistically, you’ll have to consider how you – and the guests – get from the church (or whatever) to the reception.
What if you don’t want a full religious service? Or even a part-religious one?
There are options, such as using a civil celebrant like myself. I can conduct a unique, tailor-made ceremony for a couple, with as much or as little religion or ritual etc. as they want. They will still need to have been legally married by the registrars beforehand (either at the Register Office or immediately before, at the same premises as the bespoke ceremony).
You may need to consider also how formal you want the ceremony to be, how many participants to involve (ushers, bridesmaids, Best Man/Woman etc.), the music, the decorations and so on. Do you plan to write your own vows?
Go and visit a number of possible venues, once you’ve had a look at their websites. There’s no substitute for getting a feel for the place (your gut feeling is so important here). You will also want to come equipped with a list of questions. If the event planner isn’t very helpful, does it make much sense to choose that venue?
Depending on what you want and can afford, you will have to look at who you invite and what sort of seating plan you go with. Are you having a sit-down meal or a buffet? Will there be canapés etc? When choosing a caterer, do ask to sample some of what they can offer.
Will there be gaps in the proceedings that might need an entertainer? Or a toastmaster? Will you want a disco? Might you provide a quiet area? What about children?
Have you thought about speeches?
As you will have seen from this overview, there are many, many issues to address. A professional wedding planner will ease you through this (at a cost, of course). If you start early enough, the issues should not overwhelm you, but maybe I can offer you some welcome help?
I have written a book on this very subject: “Your Wedding Guide”. For less than £5, you can buy it on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/2e9RcqS
Alternatively, if you contact me with your e-mail address, I shall be delighted to e-mail you my free Wedding Countdown Checklist, which will suggest important tasks you need to do and time-frames for completing them.
I look forward to being of service to you!