Meet the Cork woman creating unique ceremonies for people

Self-confessed book worm and hopeless romantic, Ballinlough woman Alison Driscoll has set up her dream business during Covid, writes DEBORAH HICKEY
Meet the Cork woman creating unique ceremonies for people

Alison Driscoll of Bespoke Words

WHEN Covid-restrictions saw Cork woman, Alison Driscoll, twice furloughed from her position at a city-centre book retailer last year, she recognised that the time was right for her to pursue her ambition of running her own business.

Alison, from Ballinlough, has combined her passion for language and the written word, with her love of life’s special occasions, to launch Bespoke Words — a complete service for the creation and conduction of unique, milestone ceremonies.

In following her dream, Alison is now at the centre of her clients’ celebrations, writing their love stories and helping them to create their own dream-day.

Her love of literature and writing flourished in UCC, where she completed a degree in English before attaining her MA in Creative Writing. Since graduating, in 2018, she has been honing both her creative and customer-service skills in a number of retail and arts administrative roles. She is the Writer in Residence at the Molly Keane Writer’s Retreat, in Ardmore, and works with the Cork World Book Fest.

Alison is also a professional poet, and is involved with the Amergin Poetry Solstice Gathering.

Her passion for books, and working with the public, led Alison to a position at Waterstones book shop, in Cork’s city centre. When Covid-restrictions saw stores forced to close throughout 2020, however, she took advantage of the time off work to set the wheels in motion towards launching a new career.

She took a Start Your Own Business course, run by Cork City Local Enterprise Office, and also enrolled in a course with the Irish Institute of Celebrants. Now, qualified as a professional Family Celebrant, Alison conducts bespoke ceremonies for weddings, vow renewals and baby namings.

Discussing what attracted her to the role of Family Celebrant, she explains: “I love celebrating the milestones in life and I really wanted to work with people to help them realise their visions.

“I love weddings! For me, there is nothing more rewarding than to witness two people share their love, with all their family and friends, knowing you have helped to make their day unique to them.”

Through Bespoke Words, Alison works with couples and families to create memorable and personal ceremonies. “A celebrant works with you to create the day of your dreams in exactly the way you want it. If a couple wants to get married under the stars in their garden — they can!”

Working with each couple or family, Alison pulls all their ideas together to create a bespoke and magical experience.

Her creative, literary and poetic skills all come to the fore when she works to create a dream ceremony.

“I write unique ceremonies tailored to the client and the occasion. I can help with choosing readings and verse, and for those looking for something extra special, I offer a bespoke poem service.

“I write poems for ceremonies, invitations or as gifts. A bespoke poem is a lovely way to express how special a person is, or the feelings for an occasion which can be treasured forever.

“As an avid reader, and hopeless romantic, I have no shortage of options to suit every style. I can also assist with speech-writing for those who are totally intimidated by the thought of writing a speech.”

Alison will brainstorm ideas with her clients, as she gets to know them, to tailor-make their perfect ceremony.

She offers a range of services and ceremony enhancements such as ring warming ceremonies and a handfasting ceremony, making each union unique.

For Alison, the best part of the job is learning a couple’s love story: “How they met, their first kiss, how they got engaged and what their future holds — this is at the heart of the ceremony and it is wonderful to share this story with their guests.”

Covid restrictions have caused many couples to postpone their wedding plans, but Alison notes that the emerging trend of ‘micro weddings’’ is working well for many people.

“Any couple I have spoken to who have gone ahead with a smaller day have been absolutely delighted that they did. There is such intimacy to a smaller wedding.”

Another trend emerging is that couples are spreading the celebration over two dates, completing a church or legal wedding at a registry office, and postponing the larger party for a future date. This is where Alison’s service can work perfectly.

“As a celebrant, I can create a beautiful ceremony for the postponed date, without the legal component, and create a memorable wedding celebration for a couple to enjoy with all their friends and family.”

The beauty of choosing a Family Celebrant to conduct a ceremony is that the only limit, in terms of where and when the celebration takes place, is the imagination.

“Celebrants don’t do 9 to 5. Once a couple has completed the legal elements of their wedding, at the registry office, they can have a completely personal, no-limits wedding, anywhere they like.”

Couples have the freedom to choose any venue that is special to them. Alison says she has seen weddings conducted at the Cliffs of Moher, outside pubs, in a fairy fort, on the beach or at the same venue as the reception such as a hotel or country house.

“My favourite venues in Cork city for a ceremony are Triskel Christchurch or Blackrock Castle Observatory, and Barnabrow House or Ballyvolane House, a little further out.”

Alison doesn’t hesitate when asked what she enjoys most about her work: “I love meeting people who have something to celebrate, be that a wedding, vow-renewal or a new baby. I love creating memorable and unique ceremonies for people and sharing in their special day.

“Writing ceremonies brings me so much joy and it is a real honour to be a part of so many wonderful celebrations of love and life.”

Alison Driscoll can be contacted on https://bespokewords.ie/  alisonbespokewords@gmail.com and @bespokewords on Instagram and Facebook.

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