Move over...weddings, sweet sixteens, and bar and bat mitzvahs. Here come the First Communion celebrations! While First Communion celebrations were relatively low-key small family celebrations years ago, the last decade has demonstrated a trend toward extravagance and elaborate celebrations. Parents of children who will be receiving the sacrament of First Holy Communion begin to plan for these celebrations months well in advance of the event date. First Communions generally take place as early as January and as late as June, with the bulk of churches celebrating the sacrament within the months of March, April and May of every year. The majority of the communicants are usually 7 or 8 years old, but the sacrament can be received by persons of any age.
The first item of consideration should be whether to have the celebration at home or at a public place such as a restaurant, country club, banquet hall, etc. Most places require a reservation months in advance to ensure a guaranteed spot. The next item to consider is your guest list. Just as recommended for weddings, you should have an "A" list and a "B" list, with guests on your "A" list receiving priority. Mail out invitations to guests on the "A" list and for every regret you receive, mail out one invitation from the "B" list, etc. Since we are on the subject of invitations - this may be the very first impression you give your guests as far as setting the tone of the event. A very simple, casual invitation will demonstrate your guests that the event will be rather low-key and casual, while a more formal, custom printed and elaborate invitation, will point to a more elegant and refined affair.
First Communion invitations range from the simple "fill-in-the-blank" variety to unique and elaborate imported European invitations which have become a very hot commodity in this market. Parents want to make a statement of uniqueness and individuality and will go the extra mile to find something along these lines. European invitations have trickled into the U.S. social stationery market during the last 10 years, but are not entirely easy to find. There are a number of limited retailers on the internet which do offer these invitations so an internet search would be recommended. An alternative to regular First Communion invitations, which is in very strong demand, is utilizing what are known as European First Communion remembrance cards as invitations. The tradition behind First Communion remembrance cards originated in Europe well over a century ago. In many European countries, First Communion remembrance cards are handed to guests to commemorate the special day. These remembrance cards have the child's name and communion date printed on them. There is the holy card style in which the information is printed either on the front or back of the card depending on the card itself. There is also the "folder" style in which the traditional information or invitation wording is printed on a translucent vellum insert held to the folder card with a gold-tone elastic cord.
The celebration will usually consist of a luncheon or dinner. Have a professional take a portrait of your child dressed in the traditional First Communion attire. Frame the portrait and place it on a table designated for gifts from the guests where you can also have a guestbook to record the visitors on that day. A beautiful way to keep a good record of the day is to use a traditional European mother-of-pearl First Communion photo/record album which provides pages for inserting photos as well as a guest register.
Have a table assigned just for the First Communion cake. First Communion cakes have become rather elaborate and are an art form in itself so be sure to take pictures of the cake before it is cut. Surround the cake with a layer of fanned out personalized napkins which have a first communion symbol and the child's name and communion date printed on them. Decorate guest table settings with first communion favors. First Communion favors can be cute or simply religious mementos but be sure to decorate the favors with personalized ribbon to give the item the special touch it deserves.
Parents can have lots of fun planning this special day's celebration with their children. Your child's First Communion will undoubtedly be one of the most special days in your child's life. While celebrating can be lots of fun for children, parents need to remind themselves and their families of not overshadowing the spiritual significance of the sacrament being celebrated.
For First Communion invitations wording ideas, as well as ideas for decorating with personalized ribbon and personalized napkins be sure to visit the Communion Boutique at Starlite Weddings & Occasions.
Lourdes Lopez is creative director for Starlite Weddings & Occasions and has been traveling to Europe for the past 11 years to find unique and traditional religious items for Baptism and First Communion celebrations.