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How to Create a New Sorority Ceremony

Dear sorority sugar, Can you give me any ideas for ceremonies and things to do during them?

Dear Seeking a Ceremony, Sorority ceremonies are usually kept pretty private. They're not as top secret as ritual, but most chapters don't actively publicize their ceremonies since they want PNMs or new members to be surprised when they experience a special rite for the first time. But there are traditions and tools you can use to create some new chapter ceremonies that your sisters, new members and PNMs will respond to.  

• Why Have a Sorority Ceremony? •

Ceremonies are an important part of sorority life. Almost everything a chapter does has a significant meaning, including ceremonies for special occasions. The first step is to determine why you're holding the event. Then you can begin your planning. Ceremonies can do so much...

  • They help develop a deeper sense of respect for the organization.
  • They provide an emotional connection to the sisterhood.
  • They add beauty and spirit to an event that helps form a stronger bond between the members.
  • They can give recognition to well deserving sisters.
  • They provide inspiration.
  • They can draw PNMs in closer and help convince them to pledge the chapter. 
  • They prepare PNMs, new members and sisters for ritual events to come in the future.
  • They are a great way to share chapter symbolism and values.
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• 5 Things to Include in a Sorority Ceremony •

Purpose: Know why you're creating a ceremony and what your goals are for the event. Is it to seal the deal with PNMs on Preference Night? Or are you recognizing graduating seniors for their years of active membership? Ceremonies can be held for recruitment, new member pinning, big/little events, exchanging of gifts, retreats, general sisterhood bonding, chapter awards, pre or post initiation, fraternity pinning, engagements, bridging to alumnae status and more. Establish your priorities and keep focused on them. 

Theme: If appropriate, theme your event. This may mean matching your recruitment theme, or setting a distinctive mood just for new members or grads. Themes can be based on sorority colors, flowers and symbols, or be totally unique like storybook, royal, or celestial. An overriding theme helps you plan every detail and helps the participants remember the event. 

Atmosphere: The setting of your ceremony is so important. During recruitment you may need to boost a bland space with extra props, dramatic lighting and eye catching decorations. Your props and decor should add to the meaning of the ceremony in symbolic ways. If you're holding a ceremony for new members or sisters, consider an outdoor location like a beach at sunset. A beautiful park, lake or garden is also nice. Make sure your indoor or outdoor location has impact.

Music: Chapter singing is very effective in "setting the stage" for your big event as well. Live and/or recorded inspirational songs provide the context for what you want to achieve in your ceremony. Don't underestimate the power of music to touch the hearts of PNMs and sisters. Select your songs carefully and let the lyrics tell your sorority story. 

Length: Ceremonies are not ritual, so they shouldn't be too lengthy. Depending on the size of your chapter, recruitment round, new member group, or senior class ~ ten to fifteen minutes of meaningful activity, emphasizing one idea, should be plenty. It's better to make a ceremony too short than too long. Avoid long speeches, wordy explanations and repetitive filler. When planning the ceremony length, consider the number of girls who will be involved, the type of ceremony and the amount of suspense and surprise you want to include. Hold a mock rehearsal to confirm your time estimate. 

Steps to Planning a Ceremony With Style

Determine Who's In Charge!

You will probably need a Chair and maybe a small committee to create and organize the new ceremonies. The Chair and her organizing group will be responsible for doing the following (with chapter approval of course)...

  • Determine the ceremony purpose.
  • Choose the ceremony theme. 
  • Write the script or find an appropriate ceremony already written.
  • Plan the necessary setting or atmosphere.
  • Collect and assemble the props, decor and accessories.
  • Collect poems, sayings, or short text.
  • Select who will speak and who will sing.
  • Select the music and plan how it will be sung or played. 
  • Rehearse as needed.

Write a Ceremony Script!

Even the simplest ceremony should have a written outline of what's going to happen. The entire chapter may be participating, so everyone must know what part to play. Your event should go off without a hitch, especially if PNMs or new members are involved. 

❥ Easy 3-part script organization:

  • Introduction ~ Plan a dramatic opening that will attract and hold the attention of your attendees. A surprise room reveal or dramatic music will help set the tone.
  • Body ~ Develop your main theme, list the actions that will happen such as placing a flower on a table, or passing a candle, and what text and music will be used.
  • Climax ~ Connect all your ideas together in a grand finale so the ceremony will be memorable and significant. Do this by expressing sorority values, lighting candles, singing an inspirational song, or having a moment of silence. Conclude by determining how everyone will leave the space or move on to the next action.  

Assemble Props and Accessories!

To set the atmosphere, think carefully about your space and how you can enhance it. Outdoors events probably don't need to much decoration, but you can still add flowers, banners, lawn letters and other special touches. If your ceremony is indoors, consider adding these elements to create a mood...

  • Background drapes.
  • Strings of twinkle lights.
  • Wall of paper or real flowers.
  • Moody room lighting. 
  • Large scale symbol props.
  • Bunches of sorority flowers, flower petals.
  • Candles.
  • Wishing well or fountain.
  • Trees in pots.
  • Pin, ribbons, badges, jewelry.
  • Awards, plaques, trophies. 
  • Archway, bridge, steps, aisle.
  • Ceremonial table draped with cloth. 
  • Vase, vessel, silver tray, container, candle holders. 
  • Large photo frame or photo area.
  • Sign, chalkboard sign, banner, flag, crest.
  • Greek letters.
  • Hanging paper lanterns, flowers or stars. 
  • Balloons artfully arranged. 
  • Garlands, ribbon curtains. 
  • Favors, keepsakes. 
  • Printed materials, certificates.
  • Sound system, microphone, video projection. 
  • Food or drink involved with a ceremony. 

• Things to Do in a Sorority Ceremony •

The actions taken in a chapter ceremony are typically pretty simple. Depending on the purpose, they usually are things like...

  • Presenting or being presented with a sorority flower.
  • Making a wish in a ‘wishing well’ or fountain of some kind.
  • Dropping flowers or petals into a vessel.
  • Placing private notes into a vessel. 
  • Lighting candles.
  • Passing candles. 
  • Being adorned with a ribbon, pin, necklace, drape, or flower.
  • Making symbolic gestures that represent loyalty, unity and sisterhood.
  • Reciting sorority sayings, creeds, or mottos. 
  • Singing or listening to singing. 
  • Symbolically entering into a special place, walking over a bridge or passing through a threshold.
  • Handling symbolic objects. 
  • Body movement such as circling or hugging.
  • Giving sister testimonials. 
  • Signing a keepsake book or object. 
  • Toasting to the sisterhood (non-alcoholic beverages of course).
  • Adding a photo or trinket to a wall collage.
  • Watching a commemorate video.
  • Giving awards and recognition. 
  • Lighting sparklers. 
  • Throwing confetti.
  • Giving a standing ovation, round of applause. 

When all is said and done, a new ceremony for your chapter should reflect your sorority personality and come from the heart. If it's meaningful for your sisters, then it will be remarkable for everyone involved!

A Meaningful Ceremony is...

Simple

Impressive

Interesting

Memorable 

 

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