You might have heard the term, but without knowing what it actually means. What is a commitment ceremony? You may ask. In simple terms, it is a way for couples to commit for a life together, but without going through the red tape and conventions of traditional marriage. These ceremonies don’t come with any legal enforcements, and, for years, they have been the only way for same-sex couples to express their desire to be together.
Other reasons can come into play. Some couples might not find it convenient to have a party the same day they get legally married, while others might not want to bring the government into play because of unfair systems of taxation that target lawfully married couples. Regardless of your reason for choosing this type of ceremony, here are some things that might help you get a feel of what happens and what steps you should follow to have a successful one.
Does a commitment ceremony have anything in common with traditional weddings?
This question is essential, and the first many couples ask. Because it is a ceremony that celebrates commitment, such an event shares some common things with traditional weddings. For instance, guests are invited, the couple exchange vows and rings, there is music and dancing, and also a joyful reception where everyone has fun. However, you should know that nothing keeps you from organizing your commitment ceremony as you see fit.
After all, organizing such an event is a way of affirming your freedom of choices. For instance, you may invite only a small group of friends. As for who will be the person to hold the service, it could be anyone, from a religious leader to a friend.
The main difference between commitment ceremonies and traditional weddings is that they aren’t legally binding. In the eyes of the law, you won’t be married to each other, even if in your hearts, your commitment is forever.
Who can have a commitment ceremony?
The answer to this question is: pretty much everyone. While it’s true that LGBTQ+ couples are the norm for people who have such ceremonies, there can be other reasons involved, and therefore, you may opt for it even if you’re not part of a same-sex couple.
Since couples might experience unique circumstances, it would be hard to say who would be better without this type of commitment. Actually, it’s a pretty fun event, so there’s no reason not to have one just for the sake of strengthening your vows and enjoying a pleasant time with your closest friends.
As a general rule, couples who are forbidden by law to get married opt for a commitment ceremony. Even now, with same-sex marriage becoming legal in more and more countries, such couples prefer having this type of ceremony instead. And here is another situation you might not have thought of; couples who are already married cannot get married again. For them, a commitment ceremony could be an excellent occasion to strengthen and renew their vows.
It is not always a matter of impossibility, due to legal constraints, but one of choice. Some people don’t want to become married in the eyes of the law for various reasons. They may be put in the situation of having to pay extra taxes as a married couple. Or maybe they just don’t see a point in becoming legally bound to each other. Even so, they want to commit to each other, hence the choice of a commitment ceremony.
Any sort of inconvenience that might come from the choice of a traditional wedding can tip the balance in favor of a commitment ceremony. For instance, if you want to get married to a person from a different country, things can become very complicated, depending on the laws regarding marriage there.
Planning a perfect ceremony commitment
The great thing about a ceremony commitment is that you can apply your own vision without any restrictions. You will most likely have an exchange of rings and vows, but how you do it, where you do it, who gets an invitation and so on, is entirely up to you.
However, if you are looking for a loose format to help you figure out how to make your vision happen, here are the main guidelines that will help you put together a superb event.
– A greeting – this part is usually the responsibility of the officiant of the ceremony. He or she will address a few words to all the guests and will talk about the importance of the event, or even about the people who are going to commit to each other.
– An exchange of vows – that’s another point that many people agree on when having this type of ceremony to celebrate their commitment. You can go for anything here; you can get inspiration or just recite vows from religious and non-religious sources. Or you can create your own vows. Make sure to write down the words you want to say so that you don’t forget them at the most inopportune times.
– Special rites, hymns, and music – officiants of such ceremonies usually have a set of special readings combined with a choice of musical background to mark the beginning of the couple’s life together. They can be religious, but not necessarily. Some formal aspects should mark the importance of this type of event, and this is where these guidelines come into play.
– An exchange of rings – even though it’s not a traditional wedding, this event has as one of its most crucial moment the exchange of rings between the two people who make a commitment toward one another. Even if it is not legally binding, a commitment ceremony carries the same significance of binding two people together.
– The announcement of marriage – just like during a traditional wedding, the officiant will announce that the two people are now united. Other words can be used, including ‘wed’, since it is the connotation of the event that matters above all else.
– A reception – this is the part that truly allows you to unleash your creativity and make your vision come to life. You can opt for a formal affair, just like for a traditional wedding, or go for something as casual as a picnic. Since it’s your commitment ceremony, you should dictate the terms.
Planning aspects like the choice of venue, budget, number of guests, and so on, should be on top of your list. To avoid making this event stressful, plan for everything weeks in advance, if not more. That will give you plenty of time to focus on the smallest details so that when the special day comes, it will be nothing short of terrific.
What are the most important advantages of a commitment ceremony?
This type of ceremony is all about becoming committed in the eyes of an officiant and your guests, even if not the law, so make sure that you want that union to happen before proceeding forward. If you genuinely believe this is the crucial step to take, don’t hesitate anymore. Here are the most important advantages of this type of commitment.
– There are no constraints regarding time and location. Some couples don’t want to wait for their relationship to be legalized, so they opt for a commitment ceremony instead, or just for the sake of having something to bind them until they can make their bond official. Travel where you want, organize the reception you want – or don’t organize anything if it’s just you and your beloved – and take this important step without worrying about obstacles.
– You won’t have to deal with red tape and paperwork. One of the most stressful aspects of a marriage must be the whole ordeal of having to gather paperwork, registering for getting a license, and so on. You don’t have to worry about any of these aspects when you opt for this type of event.
– Your vision can come to life. Without the limitations of a traditional wedding to worry about, you can organize the event of your dreams. Whether it’s the choice of location, the type of activities you intend to organize, who to invite, and so on, everything is your choice, and that liberating feeling is what matters most for a lot of people.
– There’s no script to worry about. Now that you’re in charge of everything, the stress of not being able to follow all the steps to the letter is out of the room. This way, you have all the freedom you want to do things your way.
Are there any disadvantages?
While it’s clear that your mind is made when you choose this type of ceremony, it might not hurt to hear about some downsides. Expect some old-fashioned members of your family to dislike the idea, but address this by informing them precisely of your plans and the reasons for your choices. Another disadvantage may be that you can’t claim any benefits that might come from being married.
Other than these minor nuisances, you shouldn’t worry about a thing. Instead, focus on making this special day in your life one to remember.