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.
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:
- 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.
- Choose a location-What place best suits what you are looking for?
- Envision what you want the ceremony to be like. Check out some ideas here.
- 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
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!