by Charlotte Eulette, Certified Life-cycle Celebrant® and Minister. Reprinted from the Universal Brotherhood Newsletter June 2019 http://universalbrotherhood.org
“Each time we UB ministers co-create and officiate at or preside over a ceremony, there exists a great opportunity to make it the best it can be for our client honorees. The valuable service we provide as ceremony-makers resonates deeply with our client honorees…and they certainly appreciate it. As a result, our clients often consider us to be their “family minister” for many of their life-cycle ceremonies, and they keep coming back to us. As UB ministers doing this great and needed work, we have the unique opportunity to become the “trusted keeper” of our client honoree’s history and legacy.
A tried and true way to make our client honorees even more satisfied, is to blend their important and very own-personal, life-aspects into the ceremony. While in the process of working together with them, we can actively find out the important things they wish to include in the ceremony and, just as important, what they don’t want mentioned in any way at all. In our work, let’s make note of both. It’s advisable to have our client honorees proof the final draft of their ceremony, get their edits (if any) and their thumbs-up before we go “live”.
A “blended” ceremony acknowledges and includes some or more of the following aspects of a person(s) life that they wish to focus on, pay attention to in some way – or pay tribute to in their ceremony:
- Ancestors, Family, Relationships, Extended family and friends
- Symbols – Heirlooms – Altars – Gifts
- Culture – Language(s)- Ethnicity – Customs
- History – Experiences – Special Stories
- Personality –Likes and Dislikes
- Philosophy of life – Beliefs
- Life’s work – Talents
- Protocol for LGBTQ + and/or anyone with special needs or circumstances
- Environmental awareness
- Language usage awareness
As UB Ministers we often work with people from all walks of life, and therefore we are stepping into their lives in a very personal way. From the start, when we meet with our clients and begin the intake/interview process to co-create their ceremony, we can discover (by using the info above) what is important for them to include in their ceremony, and what they don’t want mentioned or in their ceremony. Once they reply, via the dialog we have with them, we can then create the elements, moments and rituals of the ceremony that include the: people, stories and even languages (for instance if it’s a bi-lingual ceremony) that make their ceremony unique and meaningful.
Finally, let’s talk about ceremonial language use. It is pan-ultimate that attention is paid to how to correctly verbally address the people in or mentioned in the ceremony. For instance, perhaps our client honoree(s) don’t what to use gender-heavy terms to describe themselves or others – such as: ‘he or she” but instead prefer “them, they or we” or “the couple” or the use of first names that are approved in advance. It’s the careful attention to what they share with us that makes the big difference. It’s key for us to delve in, read and listen to what they say and find sensitive, personalized and creative ways to make their ceremony and our service to them – great.
As UBM ministers we are a family of creative muses for sure, and homegrown-personalized rituals, people skills, professionalism, etiquette, ceremonial writing and officiating are second nature for many of us. Now, if you need a bit of help or some further conversation about this topic you can count on me as your colleague UBM Minister and professional, certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®. I am blessed to have experience with a vast array of life-cycle ceremonies, and I’m always happy to share my knowledge with you and/or put you in touch with other UBM Celebrants and happy-to-be-a-UB-Mentors near you. We are blended people doing this great work as a complete reflection of the world we serve. Thank you. Charlotte Eulette, UB Minister since 2002 and International Director of the Celebrant Foundation & Inst. @ www.celebrantinstitute.org (973) 746-1792 firstname.lastname@example.org