Funerals and weddings are the most common ceremonies I’m asked to do, and the same is true for most of my celebrant colleagues. These ceremonies (arguably along with baby namings) are the ‘meat and two veg’ of the ceremony world. That is to say familiar, common and predictable. Most people have been to a wedding or a funeral, or at the least seen them on television or in films. They’re ‘safe’ in that we know what to expect (ish).
But are weddings and funerals safe, common and predictable? Should they be? And, most importantly, would you want yours to be? (My guess is no…)
Just because you’re arranging a ‘common’ ceremony doesn’t mean you have to follow what everyone else does or what is expected. But then, neither do you have to swing from the chandeliers in order to make it different (although, if you want to, go for it but be prepared for a horrible risk assessment form from the venue 😂).
Imagine instead that you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper. As if, instead of a wedding you were organising, say, a coming-of-age ceremony; instead of a funeral you were organising, perhaps, a housewarming ceremony. Something that has a clear purpose but not so much of a ‘well-trodden path’. You wouldn’t be waylaid by a preconceived idea of how it ‘should’ be – you’d be making it your own, decluttered from all the layers of expectation.
Why are we having this ceremony?
It’s a pretty simple question and the answer might look simple too – to get married, or to give a loved one a good send-off.
But let’s go deeper and get really specific. Try some of these questions for starters:
- Who is this ceremony for, actually?
- What is this ceremony about?
- What do we want to express in this ceremony?
- How do we want people to feel during and after this ceremony?
- What does this ceremony mean to us? What’s important about it?
- What would we like to hear people saying if we overheard them talking about the ceremony a week or so later?
- If for some reason this ceremony couldn’t go ahead at all, what would we feel we’d missed out on?
Digging into these questions gives perspective on the ceremony that you might not have had before. It’s super easy to dismiss this process and just do a ‘tick the box’ ceremony, but spending some time discussing these thoughts will make the day itself so much richer, personal and memorable.
Your answers might also give you ideas about things like venue, who you would like to invite (and maybe also who you’d like to play a part in the ceremony in some way), traditions you’d like to include (and ones you definitely want to chuck out!), style, tone, music choices, readings… you name it, this process will make everything clearer, I promise!
Let me know how you get on. And, if your answers inspire you to have me as a celebrant, do get in touch. xx