What Is A Commitment Ceremony And When To Have One

Can you have a wedding or elopement and not be legally married? Yes! You can do this by having a commitment ceremony.

What is a commitment ceremony and how does it work?

A commitment ceremony is a form of marriage ceremony where legal paperwork is not involved. There are so many ways that couples can celebrate the time they commit their lives to each other. You have probably heard similar terms to commitment ceremonies like Spiritual, Symbolic, or Promise ceremonies and they all essentially work the same way! When you decide to have a commitment ceremony, the only difference from a regular ceremony is that you won’t be signing a marriage license.

Are commitment ceremonies legal?

In short, no they are not. Commitment ceremonies are not legally binding. Choosing to not have a marriage that is legally binding has a few pros and cons that you should consider thinking about for example marriage benefits etc. If you are looking to legalize your marriage with a commitment ceremony feel, self solemnizing could be a great option for you.

Why and when would you have a commitment ceremony 

Although this type of ceremony may not be legally binding, many couples (including quite a few that we have worked with) decide to go this route! Here are a few reasons why a couple might decide a commitment ceremony is the right thing for them:

Your Marriage Is Not Legal In Your Home Country Or Area

Commitment ceremonies are a great option for couples who live in areas that do not legally allow marriage. A great example is countries or areas where same sex marriage is illegal. A commitment ceremony is a great alternative if you live in an area like this and you don’t have the means to marry in another area where your marriage is allowed. 

Destination Weddings or Elopements

Have you ever researched marriage laws in another country? It can become a very overwhelming process for couples especially if they don’t live there. Some countries or areas require blood tests, etc. and can take a few weeks to process your legal paperwork. Not to mention the possibility of your marriage not being legally accepted in your home country or state. 

Many times this is an annoying inconvenience that can mess with travel plans or specific timeframes making commitment ceremonies the perfect solution. Getting married at home for the legal part and then celebrating with a commitment ceremony at the location of your choice makes for a more enjoyable planning process! 

Legal Marriage Benefits 

Sometimes commitment ceremonies happen because couples had to marry under circumstances under their control. Getting married to receive legal benefits is a super common occurrence and the perfect example of when to have a commitment ceremony. Some reasons why couples need to marry legally first before celebrating with a ceremony could be due to immigration processes, insurance benefits, deployment, etc. 

Religious Reasons

Some couples may already be married and want to be “married” through their religious institution. Or maybe they want to only have their marriage recognized through their faith and not legally through government institutions. 

You Don’t Want A Legally Bound Marriage

Another time when or why you would want to have a commitment ceremony is because you simply don’t want to have a legal marriage! There are so many ways to celebrate your love and signing legal paperwork does not have to be a part of it! 

How to plan your ceremony 

Planning your commitment ceremony is not much different from a regular elopement ceremony. Here are a few sample  guidelines you can follow to get you started:

  1. Figure out logistics-Who is going to be present with you? What activities do you want to be included in your day? Hire help if needed, we help couples figure out location and logistics for their ceremony. We also photograph their day! Let us help you plan this thing. Contact Us to get started.
  1. Choose a location-What place best suits what you are looking for?
  1. Envision what you want the ceremony to be like. Check out some ideas here. 
  1. Post Ceremony Celebration- How will you celebrate after? 

Commitment Ceremony Ideas

  • Have a virtual commitment ceremony to include family but still keep it intimate
  • If you hire an officiant, make sure they know it is a symbolic ceremony only.
  • Get creative, there are no rules during these ceremonies! 
  • Include personal vows as your ceremony 
  • Include a Unity Ritual 
  • Pick a location that nobody has used before 


The beauty of a commitment ceremony is that you do not need any witnesses or an officiant. You can always appoint someone close to you to officiate and they don’t even need to be ordained!

You can legally change your last name with a court order. If you marry legally you do not need a court order to change your last name.

Marriage is a promise between a couple. You do not need a paper to justify that promise!

A civil ceremony is a legal marriage without religious affiliation. Civil ceremonies are performed under government laws and are legally binding while commitment ceremonies are not.

A commitment ceremony is more simple than a traditional wedding ceremony. It can be as simple as reading your vows to each other, or doing something that signifies something to you. It can be a spiritual ceremony, religious ceremony etc. A traditional wedding ceremony can also be religious but it is also legalized after with a marriage license.

Anyone can perform a commitment ceremony. Since it is not a legal form of marriage, commitment ceremonies allow for a loved one to perform. Theres no need to be legally ordained or have special certification to perform one.

Commitment ceremonies are awesome because the flexibility of locations! There are so many spots you can choose depending on what kind of scenery you want to be surrounded by. Check out these elopement spots in Colorado that can also be used for your commitment ceremony.

Want someone to photograph and film your commitment ceremony?

Most couples that we work with choose to have a commitment ceremony especially if they are coming from another state. If having a commitment ceremony seems like the right choice for you, let us help. Looking to have a commitment ceremony in Colorado? Check out our Colorado Guide and Contact us to get started!


  1. I’ve got more and more couples interested in commitment ceremonies and so resources like this are definitely welcomed right now in the wedding industry. It’s important that couples know their options so thanks for sharing the wealth. Great resource!

  2. I have ever heard of a commitment ceremony before. Makes a lot of sense! I’m surprised I haven’t had more couples request this, but the reasons you listed are very good ones.

  3. Such a great idea, I did not know these existed too. It’s amazing to give a chance to everyone to get “married” in their own way. Well written my friend:))

  4. Commitment ceremonies for straight couples are just as common, but happen under different circumstances. Another group of people who cannot get married by law are those who are already married. For obvious reasons, you can’t sign a marriage license twice! Some couples choose to sign the paperwork and become legally married without planning a celebratory ceremony because of timing or convenience. Maybe they needed to become married for tax purposes, to support children, or for immigration reasons. These couples needed to get legally married quickly, but still want to plan an official wedding, elopement, or destination wedding later.

    1. Thats right! There are many different circumstances where a commitment ceremony may be the best choice for you. Thanks for the input!

  5. My Fiance and I were thinking about doing a commitment ceremony now and get legally married once his children finish college. If we chose to wait it would be another 6 years before we can officially say I do. We both think this is a good idea, however, my family doesn’t support the idea.

    1. Sometimes it can be difficult to get family on board. There are so many other options to explore as well like self-solemnizing. It is similar to a commitment ceremony but it can be legally binding 🙂

    1. Since commitment ceremonies are not legally binding ceremonies and are more like a promise ceremony, we don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible 🙂 You can always legalize your new marriage at a later date too and still have a commitment ceremony beforehand.

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