What is a commitment ceremony?

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A commitment ceremony is a way for a couple to show their dedication to one another without the legal confines of marriage. Commitment ceremonies are used when couples are not legally allowed to marry but may also be used by those who do not care to follow the standard marriage contract.

These ceremonies celebrate a couple's love and commitment without the requirements of marriage.


These ceremonies are designed to be a celebration of love. The ceremony publicly declares a couple's intention to enter into a partnership with one another. Often times couples enjoy adding a personal flair to the production, to make it uniquely their own.


The current face of this type of proclamation comes from the gay and lesbian community. Gay couples seeking a way to celebrate their love when convention will not allow them to legally marry accept this as the best alternative.

Commitment ceremonies were around long before current types of alternative lifestyles and have often been used by those with different religious views. Interfaith couples were often not allowed to marry in churches. While they could still get a marriage license, these ceremonies were still considered "commitment ceremonies."

For safety reasons, there are not many records, but these were also popular amongst interracial couples when they were not allowed by law to marry. Throughout the South such ceremonies occurred, but records were often doctored, so the existence of the celebrations was passed down by word of mouth.

Symbolic Legal Joining

Due to the lack of legal standing of these commitments, some couples choose to launch a company or trust entity in order to legally declare their intentions. This can be especially important in the event of an accident or the death of one of the parties. To "seal the deal" at the commitment ceremony, the couple can choose to sign this paperwork as a symbol of the legal commitment they intend as well.

Traditional Couples

Traditional couples that have the option of getting married but have an issue with the institution have also started to utilise these ceremonies. Commitment ceremonies declare love much the same way as marriages do, so if the couple wishes to have unique paperwork, this is a viable option. Couples may also lean in this direction to form a union specific to their needs or desires financially. For those marrying later in life with separate assets and families, this can be an easier way to protect everyone.


When choosing to participate in a commitment ceremony, look into important legal paperwork. This is the best way to protect the "rules" side of the union even if it is not a marriage. The participants can choose how intertwined they want their lives to become. There are many things that are instantly taken care of with a marriage license. By looking into drawing up such paperwork couples give themselves the same protections and benefits of married couples.