There are two types of commitment ceremonies although they both demonstrate the feeling of love and feeling one person has for the other within a relationship.
Same Sex Ceremonies
A commitment ceremony was until recently the only option for gay and lesbian couples to have a formal but not legally binding ceremony in Australia. Find a celebrant that is a supportive and friendly person to work with and establish a working rapport during the time of the planning and organizing of your commitment ceremony.
A good celebrant is able to create a ceremony that reflects the style and tone of both of your personalities, is able to express the story of your love and commitment and why you have chosen to make these promises for your future together. Celebrants can also create a number of options giving you draft ideas of how the ceremony could be conducted and go through these options to find the correct one for you.
Commitment ceremonies can include several familiar elements such as a procession of the couple as they arrive walking through the guests lined up on each side, the taking of the vows by the couple, the exchanging of the rings, the declaration to each other and a blessing. Some couples may choose to include things such as readings, a ritual confirming their unity towards each other, music that has a special meaning or has been influential in the relationship, a ritual that includes or is to honor your families including any children you may have.
Alternatively, go for Informal and Casual
A popular alternative to holding a large gathering is to have a ceremony without all the pomp just standing casually together, holding hands, speaking some simple vows and surrounded by just a small circle of your closest friends and family.
Your choice of location is also an important decision. It could take place at your home, in a park, in a chapel, inside a catering venue or at your favorite restaurant. You can be creative with your choice of location and you should engage with your celebrant as they might have some good suggestions for you.
In your declaration to each other you can add things such as your views on same-sex relationships calling for greater support, social changes and justice.
Couples Committed to each other without a need for Marriage
Commitment ceremonies can also be held for couples that want to commit themselves to their partner but for whatever reason do not wish to be legally married. It could be that they have been together for some time but are just not yet ready for marriage. They are still committed to each other and want to celebrate the love they have for each other with a ceremony attended by their family and friends. Just as the commitment ceremony listed above, this can be as formal or informal as you would like it to be. You can even plan it to follow the same pattern as you would have at a wedding ceremony.
What Happens at a Commitment Ceremony
A commitment ceremony is very similar to that of a wedding, the major difference being that it is not a ceremony that is legally binding two people together just their way of publically confirming their commitment to each other. A commitment ceremony is often used as an alternative to marriage as until recently in Australia a gay, lesbian or transgender couple were unable to legally marry.
The ceremony can be religious, following almost exactly the format of a traditional wedding or it can be an informal loose gathering and unstructured ceremony of celebration.
The celebrant will usually begin the ceremony with a short speech of welcome for all the guests and include a story about the couple, how they met and about the concept of commitment.
Where the couple make their promise to each other and what their commitment means to them. This can if they wish include traditional oaths as used in a religious ceremony, or they can write their own.
Hymns can be included and religious scriptures or alternatively it can be entirely the couples own choice of their favorite music and quotes from literature.
Exchanging of Rings
A few words about what the giving of a ring means and can follow traditional lines used in religious ceremonies or a short speech of your own choosing.
The celebrant may use the words united/wed/joined and the couple are invited to kiss to seal the commitment. This is then usually followed by a reception; this can be very formal or likewise very casual.