Planning an Award Ceremony
(NOTE: this page is still a work in progress -- some of the sections at the bottom still need to be filled in. Justin and Caitlin are organizing it; please speak with them before changing anything at this stage.)
- Justin - wondering if you're still monitoring this page - was thinking about working on it - Thomas de Castellan**
The Crown give out many awards during their reign, of many different sorts: Awards of Arms, Peerages, Orders of Honor and many others. Each one matters a lot, and each one should be special to the recipient. But the Royalty can't do that on their own -- each award takes a bunch of work, and needs help from the people who know the recipient.
So if you recommended someone for an award, or are a close friend or relative of the recipient, they may well need your assistance. This page describes how award ceremonies generally work, and gives some ideas of how you may be able to help out.
We'll cover everything in detail below. But here are the high points:
- Someone needs to make sure the recipient will be at a Royal Progress event to get the award.
- The word needs to get out to appropriate people that it will be happening.
- For some awards, appropriate regalia like medallions or coronets need to be arranged.
- For Peerages, a vigil usually should be set up.
The following sections describe the process further. They are broken down by the kind of award, since the details vary depending on that.
There are a lot of elements that are common to any award. While a Peerage may vary a bit from an Award of Arms, the basic outline of what needs to happen is actually pretty similar.
First is figuring out which event to give the award at. This can be a complex negotiation, especially if the recipient is from an outlying area, or doesn't frequent Royal Progress events. Not every event is always possible: the Crown is trying to balance their schedule, and make sure that no single Court runs too long, so they may try to avoid doing it at an event that already has a long docket. (They usually try to avoid giving most awards at Pennsic because of this: that court can easily run out of control unless it is tightly limited.) You may need to talk quietly with people who know the recipient best, to find out where they will be, or what they might be convinced to attend.
Once that is decided, it is important to make sure that the people who matter most to the recipient can be there. This varies a lot from recipient to recipient, but someone should always make sure that their spouse is present, if they have one. It also often includes:
- The recipient's family, if they are at all involved in the Society;
- Their Peer, if they are in fealty to one;
- Their Household, if they are in one;
- The local nobility (that is, their Baron and Baroness);
- Other close friends who would want to be there.
That said, you need to be careful not to blab too widely or conspicuously. Most SCA awards are surprises, and many Crowns care deeply about this: some frown deeply on word being leaked to the recipient. Unless you are told otherwise, you should assume that the award is going to be given as a surprise. If you know for sure that the recipient would rather know about it in advance, talk to the Royalty or their representative about it. In such cases, a Writ of Summons will sometimes be issued -- this is an official notice to the recipient that they will be receiving a particular award at a particular event. But the decision on this is up to the Crown, and you should abide by it.
The East has many Orders (and a bunch of Awards) that have a specific heraldic badge -- this isn't the case for the Award of Arms, but it is for most other things. (Many of these are described and/or depicted on the East Kingdom Awards Page.) The form of this regalia varies from case to case -- for example, the Order of the Troubadour traditionally comes with a small cup -- but in most cases it is typically given with a medallion that signifies membership in the order.
The Royalty will usually have a stock of medallions that they can give out if necessary, but it is usually more special to the recipient if they receive one from the hands of a friend or colleague. In general, if the recipient has a Peer, you should check with them first -- they may intend to pass one of their own medallions on, or have one commissioned. Or a friend of the recipient's in the Order may want to give theirs. Otherwise, it is usually pretty easy to purchase a medallion from a merchant.
Regardless of where it comes from, make sure that the Royalty (or more likely, their Herald) knows that the medallion is present. During the ceremony, they will ask if someone has a medallion; the person giving it should be near the front and ready to hand it off to the Royalty, who will give it to the recipient. The Royalty may ask about the "lineage" of the medallion: this is intended for cases where a single medallion has been given a number of times from friend to friend.
Some awards, such as Baronies or Counties, come with a coronet -- essentially a specialized kind of crown. The nature of the coronet depends on the rank: for instance, Baronial coronets usually have six pearls, where Ducal ones have strawberry leaves.
In most cases, this is relatively straightforward, since most such awards aren't surprises: the recipient will have enough notification to participate in the process themselves, and will often have strong opinions about what they would prefer. But in some cases it will be a surprise -- in particular, Court Baronies are usually surprises. This makes arranging for a coronet complicated, since you don't necessarily know the size. There are a variety of ways around this: the most common approach is probably to briefly purloin a hat that they find comfortable, measure it, and bring those measurements to the jeweler who will make or sell the coronet.
If you know the recipient well, you may want to work with a jeweler to produce a highly customized coronet that will suit them. If not, it usually isn't worth the effort to try to customize something like that; instead, they can commission one that they really like after the award is given.
The three bestowed Peerage Orders -- the Laurel, Pelican and Chivalry -- are a big deal, and the ceremonies surrounding a Peerage elevation are typically pretty elaborate. The details can vary a lot (and should be customized to the recipient when possible), but here are a number of the usual considerations.
Most Peerages today are preceded by a Vigil. This is a period after the candidate is told about their impending elevation but before it happens, when they have the opportunity to reflect on it, receive advice, and generally make sure that they consider themselves ready for it. Some vigils can run as long as weeks, but they are usually a few hours long: the Royalty most often send the candidate off to vigil in the morning, to be elevated in the afternoon.
Vigils are typically pretty significant projects: you should recruit some help to work on it. If the candidate is in a household, they will usually want to help out. Sometimes, the candidate's household will have strong vigil traditions -- it is usually best to go with this, if so. (Also, some candidates make their wishes known well in advance, as a sort of, "If I ever get a peerage..."; it is wonderful to be able to give them the experience they want, if this is the case.)
Well in advance of the event, you should start working with the autocrat to figure out where the vigil will take place. Vigils typically have a main space that has somewhere for the candidate and at least a couple of people to advise them at any given time; if possible, it is helpful to have an anteroom for those who are waiting to speak. It's often best to do this inside if possible, but many good vigils have been held using pavilions set up outside the main event area.
Make sure that you arrange for appropriate furniture. Typically, this will involve nice chairs for a few people, but some candidates have personae that are more suited to floor cushions. Rugs, wall hangings and candlelight can make even the most mundane room feel much more atmospheric.
Figure out who will be allowing to visit with the candidate. This varies considerably from vigil to vigil, and is often the subject of household traditions. Some people strongly prefer that the vigil be open to anyone who wants to come visit; some are only open to peers; some are only open to the Order that the candidate is being inducted into.
- Again, clear and unthreatening
- Link back to Recommending Someone for an Award
- Common concepts
- Stuff that pertains to any award
- Figuring out an RP to give it
- Who to Notify
- Family, if involved in SCA
- Peer, if they have one
- Possibly local nobility
- Possibly other friends
- By default, assume awards are supposed to be a surprise
- If you know for sure that they don't want a surprise, notify the Royalty
- Don't break it without checking first: some Royalty care a lot about this
- Writ of Summons can be the best way to split the difference
- Arranging for a medallion
- Often provided by a friend in the Order, but not always
- If they have a Peer, check with them *first*
- Royals can usually provide a medallion if necessary, but usually better ceremony if one is given
- Arranging for a medallion
- Arranging for a coronet
- Setting up a vigil
- Need to know event well in advance
- Will usually need a bunch of help
- Some households care passionately about this, and will want to run it
- Talk to autocrat, to line up space for vigil
- Open to all/Peers/Order?
- Guest book?
- Customized to the candidate's style, if you know their wishes
- Royalty will usually ask for details
- Lining up sponsors
- Good clothing for court
- "In case of Peerage" box -- extreme case, but can be very snazzy
- Setting up a vigil