10 Tips for Creating a Fab Naming Ceremony

Naming ceremonies are beginning to grow in popularity as parents look for different, non-religious ways to celebrate the arrival of a precious new life into their world. Namings can be fun while being heartfelt at the right moments too, and they are always special. So here are my top tips for creating a personal ceremony that’s just right for you.

  1. Choose a time of day that will fit with your usual routine of feeds, sleeps and hopefully some awake time to help take the stress out of the day. This will also maximise your chances of having a smiley baby for part of the celebrations at least! Find a venue that will work well for you too, if having the ceremony at home seems like a good idea but is stressing you out then book a local community venue instead or a nearby hotel who will take care of everything. Or if you don’t want to wait until the pandemic is over, consider going virtual instead.
    Online-naming-ceremony
  2. Think about who you would like to appoint as guide parents and role models for your little one. There is no set number of guide parents, so anything from one to 10 works. They don’t need to be upstanding pillars of the community, just friends and family members who will take an interest in your child as they grow up. Maybe they have an adventurous nature and will help your child develop a sense of adventure, or they might be a great role model for their family or work ethic, or maybe they are great fun and will be a positive force in your child’s life. Whatever the reason, this can be celebrated as part of the ceremony. 
  3. Shape the commitments that your guide parents will make to your child to reflect their character and attributes. If one of your guide parents is football mad then make this part of their commitments, “I promise to take Rory to see the match on Saturday afternoons and to teach him the offside rule!” Or if their kindness is what you admire most about them, “I promise to teach by example to help Chloe become kind and generous”.
  4. Consider if you want to make promises to your little one yourself. You could do this in the form of a poem or reading – the tale of Edward hopping into life from Beatrix Potter is wonderful. Or your celebrant could ask you questions that you then respond to, either together or you could have separate commitments for each parent.  
  5. Poems or readings make a great addition to a naming ceremony, or maybe a short story would work well if you’ve got lots of young children there. Find a friend who’s great at reading stories and gather the children at the front for a quick story time with a moral, The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright is a great option.
    namingceremony-poems
  6. If you are music fans then why not include a karaoke style song as part of the celebrations? I love these moments, the whole room is singing the song you’ve chosen at the top of their voices and loving every moment of it. It Must by Love by Madness is one of my favourites but you can choose anything you like, although something well known that is also easy to sing is best.
  7. Make sure you tell everyone how and why you chose the name that you did for your child, and the significance of each name – if there is one. Maybe their middle name is your grandma’s first name, what attributes does your grandma have that you’d love your little one to inherit through sharing her name?
  8. Find a way to involve all your guests in the naming ceremony. There are loads of options here and you could ask them to add their wishes for your child to a wishes tree, or to add their fingerprint and name to a picture which you can frame and display at home afterwards. It’s great to ask everyone to join in formally naming your child too, they can repeat a few short sentences after the celebrant.
    Naming-ceremony-finger-print-tree
  9. You might want to hire the services of a celebrant to write the ceremony for you and to lead the proceedings on the day, Humanists UK has a directory of celebrants who are trained specifically to perform naming ceremonies. But you might feel comfortable doing this yourself or asking a confident friend or family member to do it for you, particularly if you’d like a very relaxed celebration. There is no right or wrong, just what’s right for you!
  10. Finish on a high! You could end with a toast, just make sure everyone has their glasses charged before you start and they know they need to keep a little back until the end of the ceremony! Alternatively, you could finish with three cheers or by singing happy birthday if the naming ceremony is doubling as a 1st birthday party. Have some music ready to play as soon as the ceremony finishes to keep the atmosphere going. 

There you have it, my top tips for creating a great naming ceremony that everyone will love and that will bring a smile to their face when they think back to it. You can find out more about naming ceremonies here.

However you decide to celebrate, enjoy welcoming your little one to the world!

Managing Family Worries About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

You’ve set your heart on a celebrant led wedding, the personal and relaxed style is just what you want and it’s a perfect fit for your venue. But how are going to convince your family that it’s every bit a proper wedding ceremony?

The majority of over 50s probably aren’t aware that celebrant led weddings are an option, and very few will have been to one. After all, they have only really gained in popularity across England during the past 10 years, although they have been available for decades for those seeking an alternative path to a church or registry office wedding if you knew where to go.

I’ve enjoyed many conversations with great aunts and uncles over a glass of fizz after the ceremony who’ve told me: “We’d never been to a celebrant led wedding before but it was the most wonderful wedding ceremony ever!”

What to Tell Fact Lovers About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

So, you could just tell your sceptical relatives that they’ll have to come along on the day and see what it’s all about but it would be great to get them on side and excited for your big day. For those practical relatives you want to fill them with facts:

  • Over 1000 couples in England choose a celebrant led wedding each year
  • Those who choose a Humanist celebrant to led their service are the most likely to remain married!
  • There are no rules about what has to be included in your wedding ceremony so it’s much more flexible than a religious or registry office service
  • Celebrant weddings can still include vows, exchanging rings, poems and readings, and a certificate singing with witnesses,. But they are more personal than the other options available and you can add symbolic gestures or cultural elements to your ceremony just as you choose
  • No, it’s not legally binding in England at the moment but it’s important for the two of you to celebrate your special day in the way that suits you in the place of your choice. The commitments you make to each other on the day are real, these are your promises to each other for life
Humanist-wedding

What to Tell Romantics About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

And for those relatives who have a romantic side, they’ll be swooning if you weave these suggestions into your conversation:

  • Celebrant led weddings are so romantic as they are designed and written around the two of you, your love for each other and what’s important to you
  • You get to write your own heartfelt vows that you can surprise each other with on the day, with a bit of writing help from your celebrant if needed!
  • Ceremonies usually include your love story so your guests will get to relive the anecdotes from your early days together and that romantic proposal all over again
  • You could include romantic symbolic gestures such as a ring warming where they will get to hold your wedding rings and warm them with their love and wishes for you both during the ceremony. This can be coupled with with the more traditional exchange of rings and certificate signing which will make for gorgeous photos
  • Your wedding ceremony will be in the exact spot you choose, maybe a woodland copse, a beach, or your parent’s back garden. A setting that is special to you brings extra meaning and emotion to the day

The Final Word

But probably the most important thing to tell anyone who has reservations about your choice is that your celebrant led wedding is something you’ve got your heart set on. You want a personal wedding ceremony that’s been written just for the two of you. And it includes everything you want – whether that’s singing, poetry or a hand fasting – while you commit to your future lives together in front of the people that mean the most to you. Surely that will win them over!

Good luck with your conversations and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

If you’d like to find out more about my wedding ceremony services visit my weddings page for some inspo and check out my FAQs page too.

Creating Your Own Small and Intimate Wedding

It’s fab news that weddings and receptions can now take place again with up to 30 people being part of your celebrations. So small and intimate weddings, or minimonies as I’ve heard them called, are of the moment. But how do you create a wedding like this and would it work for you?

Managing your guest list

Well let’s start by breaking it right down to basics… who are your show stoppers? Whose absence would stop you from having your wedding day? Really. There aren’t many couples who would come up with an honest list of over 30 people, and it gives you an opportunity to think about what’s really important too. Your wedding day is about the two of you committing to spend your lives together, it’s the promises you make to each other in the company of your nearest and dearest, if you’d like them to be part of your day.

Choosing a small wedding takes the pressure off having a ‘big do’ and moves it away from being all about the numbers. Your wedding day then moves into a really special place where you can enjoy being in the moment with the few people who are the most precious to you. And if you’re still pining for the evening do you’d conjured up in your mind’s eye of you tearing up the dance floor with one hundred of your best mates then throw a separate party for them that your parents won’t have to endure, when rules allow!

Same-sex-humanist-wedding

Making your wedding ceremony intimate

That’s your guest list sorted for your small and intimate wedding, so on to the ceremony itself. Having a just few close friends and family at your wedding allows everyone to be involved in your ceremony if you’d like them to be. You could seat all your guests in a horseshoe style layout so everyone is on the front row, it’s going to be intimate so expect emotions to be running high! A ring warming ceremony is great for small numbers where you don’t need to socially distance; each person holds the rings in their hands and infuses them with their love and wishes for you both and by the time the rings have been round all of your guests they are ‘warmed’ with all that love.

Your celebrant could gather wishes or anecdotes from each of your guests before the ceremony and weave these in to the service, which would add a fab surprise element to the ceremony for you both. Those of your guests who are comfortable with public speaking could share readings or poems with you all, and you could ask everyone present to sign your wedding certificate as your witnesses with their own pens. You can still have a confetti moment at the end of your ceremony with everyone making a distanced walkway for you both.

Confetti-walkway

Reception ideas

With a small and intimate wedding reception you can truly enjoy spending quality time and having fun with all of your guests, and there a whole heap of games you could choose from. It would be great to hear from all of your guests at your wedding reception with each of them telling a short anecdote or story about the two of you, or sharing a message you’d sent some years ago when you announced that you’ve finally met ‘the one’!

Lots of venues have smaller spaces that work just perfectly for small and intimate weddings such as the stylish Bingham on the banks of the Thames or the stunning Pennyhill Park, and with all the money you’ll be saving you can splash out and really treat everyone or just save yourself the enormous bank loan.

If you’d like to find out more about planning your celebrant led wedding, visit my weddings page for lots of inspo or give me a call on 07786 268446.

Arranging a Memorial Service

As we begin to see the light after many months of lockdown, for some of us it is an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to a loved one in a way that just wasn’t possible in the grip of the COVD-19 pandemic. But how do you go about arranging a memorial service?

There is no right or wrong way to arrange a memorial service for someone you have loved, most of all you want to make it a celebration of their life and to reflect what was important to them. So here are a few suggestions on what you may need to consider to help you plan a personal and fitting memorial service.

Where should this be held?

Your memorial service can take anywhere you choose, so think about the places where your loved one enjoyed spending time and consider any of these for your memorial. Maybe at their golf club in one of the function rooms, their favourite pub, the day centre where they enjoyed meeting friends or at a natural beauty spot they loved such as in the grounds of Polesden Lacey or Richmond Park.

Any of these types of venue will help with catering and will probably be able to provide any audio visual equipment you might want for music or photos too. And they are great when you’re expecting lots of people. But if you are thinking of something more intimate you could always have the service at home, or at the remembrance gardens of your local crematoria and incorporate placing a memorial stone or planting a rose bush into your time together.

If they loved spending time in nature why not consider something outdoors along the banks of the Thames or at a venue such as Clandon Wood Nature Reserve?

When is the right time?

Once again there is no right answer for this. You might decide that you’d like to arrange the memorial for a few months after the funeral or you may prefer to wait and hold this on the anniversary of their death but generally I would recommend you make it within six months, social distancing rules allowing of course.

Funerals are traditionally held on weekdays but your memorial can be any day of the week so if you’ve got lots of people attending who are generally working during the week you could hold the celebration on a weekend instead. Depending on the type of refreshments you’d like to offer guests you could time the service for early afternoon so everyone could share in afternoon tea and a glass of fizz, or maybe the person you are remembering loved a fish and chip supper, in which case a late afternoon service followed by fish and chips and a few drinks would be fab!

Although there are no time restrictions in the same way as there are for a funeral service, it’s best to set a time limit on the memorial. Two hours is about right but if the celebration is in full swing and people want to move on elsewhere after that time then all well and good.

What should the memorial include?

Your memorial service doesn’t have to have any formal elements, it could just be a party to celebrate the life of your loved one – and if they enjoyed a good party then why not?! But you may like to have some structure to the time you are spending together and there are lots of different ways you can do this from a full service led by a celebrant to some of your guests sharing their memories and favourite photos.

Blowing-bubbles-celebration-of-life

A celebrant led service might include any of the items listed below and is best held at the beginning of your memorial for up to 30 minutes, with time to socialise afterwards:

  • Words of welcome
  • Thoughts on life and death
  • Poems or readings
  • Music chosen in memory of your loved one
  • Eulogy
  • Tributes from family and friends
  • Quiet reflection or a symbolic gesture such as lighting a candle
  • Closing words and toast

You can also include visual tributes such as electronic photos projected onto a screen, prints placed on a large board or dotted around the room, or some video footage of your loved one if you are lucky enough to have this.

I hope this gives you a few pointers on how to create a fitting memorial service for your loved one. If you’d like me deliver the service for you, or you’d like to talk though some ideas please drop me a line at stephanie@silverbeeceremonies.co.uk or give me a call on 07786 268446.

Handfasting Explained

A handfasting brings visual intrigue to your wedding ceremony, and for many of your guests it will be the first time they have seen this ancient tradition.

If you step way back in time to 12th Century, handfasting was part of every marriage and the couple’s hands were bound together using ribbons or cord. This is where the age old phrases of tying the knot and binding agreement originated, and today there are plenty of modern twists on this very special symbolic act. My favourite options are the Celtic Love Knot and what I like to call the Ribbon of Promises. Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail…

Celtic Love Knot

The Celtic love knot involves the bride and groom clasping their right hands together, with pulse points touching, and two ribbons are wrapped around their hands to bind them together. I then like to say a hand blessing, describing how these are the hands of the person who will love you and hold you, and wipe away the tears of happiness as well as sadness, and still be reaching for your hand when you are old and grey. Once the blessing is complete, the couple pull their hands from the ribbons holding onto the ends and a Celtic Love Knot is created to bring the two ribbons together.

I recently conducted a ceremony for Sarah and Andy where we used four different coloured ribbons for the Celtic Love Knot. The colours for each of the ribbons were chosen by school friends of the bride for their symbolism such as green for honesty and independence and indigo for trust and respect. Each of the friends bound their chosen ribbons around the couple’s hands and explained their symbolism; it was a really special and somewhat emotional part of the ceremony!

handfasting
Courtesy of NickRayPhotography.co.uk

Ribbon of Promises

If you would like to involve close family or friends in your wedding ceremony then the Ribbon of Promises is a great option. I love to include it when existing families are coming together and the children of the bride and/or groom make the bindings. In this version of a handfasting ceremony the couple clasp their right hands together, once again with pulse points touching, and a ribbon is placed under the thumb of each. The ribbons are then gradually wrapped around the couple’s hands as they make promises to each other. After each promise, the ribbons are passed over their hands and a knot is tied underneath, this is repeated for each promise – four times is perfect. The groom then holds the ribbons where the final knot has been made and the couple both pull their hands away for the ribbons to create a chain where the knots have been made after each promise. As well as making those close to you a special part of the ceremony, it’s a bit of theatre for your guests too!

Last year Shelley and Emma had a small registry office wedding in the early afternoon followed by a surprise handfasting ceremony for a much larger group of family and friends, who thought they were just attending the wedding breakfast. Shelley’s daughters bound their mums’ hands as they made promises to each other and to their daughters, a really lovely moment in their day.  

same-sex-wedding
Beautiful brides!

So there you have it, my brief guide to including a handfasting as part of your wedding ceremony. You can read more about my wedding services on my wedding ceremonies page, or drop me a line at stephanie@silverbeeceremonies.co.uk if you’d like to find out more.