For maximum effectiveness, ceremonies must be planned and rehearsed. When planning a ceremony:
Have a Clear Goal
List the characteristics of the group members who will attend. Write down the reasons for the ceremony and develop a clear goal. If the ceremony is to give participants a token of some kind, be conscious of what the token is supposed to mean and why it is being given. Communicate this clearly during the event.
Remember that the setting is one of the most important factors affecting the success of the ceremony. Choose a location that:
Keep a Smooth Flow
The ceremony ought to flow easily, with a definite, although inconspicuous, structure. The ceremonial master of ceremonies needs to be well-organized. The event should be well-planned and rehearsed, and the agenda clear to everyone who is helping with the ceremony.
Allow ceremony participants and leaders to express their personal thoughts, if appropriate. Be careful, because this can take a considerable amount of time. Use ceremonies to enhance group experience and to add to the depth of thought and feeling. Develop a sense of group consciousness. Encourage development of meaningful values.
If possible, go to the actual site of the ceremony and practice there. If you're including a potentially difficult stunt, like remotely lighting a fire, try it out a few times until you are confident it works without fail. Get all of the ceremonial leaders or actors together and rehearse your movements. Time how long it takes to actually perform certain events, as this may alter your decisions about what you will do.
Nothing jars a ceremony and disturbs the mood you are trying to create than to have something go obviously wrong. Make sure you rehearse with all of the props and materials needed. The details are essential to the complete mood of the ceremony.
Have Everything on Hand
Print song sheets for all songs if they are not known or if there is not time to learn them. Give song sheets to the participants if they do not know the words; this helps them feel more involved in the ceremony. Create a check-list of materials as well as a written plan. Lastly, be flexible; each ceremony can be a unique and special time.