Perhaps you are planning a gay or lesbian commitment ceremony and you are not sure what the essential elements are to the ceremony. Or maybe you have been invited to a commitment ceremony and are just not sure what to expect. Gay and lesbian comment ceremonies are very much the same as traditional weddings, and the ceremony is nearly identical. The only difference is that a commitment ceremony is not legally binding in many areas yet. It is merely a public affirmation of the couple’s commitment in front of their friends and family.
A commitment ceremony can take place with gay, lesbian or transgendered couples. This ceremony could be formal or casual, and will depend on the couple’s wishes and the rules of the officiant or house of worship it is being held in. Generally speaking, this is a simple outline of how a gay or lesbian commitment ceremony will occur.
Processional – There may or may not be a processional, it depends on the couple. If the couple chooses to have friends stand up for them, they may start the processional, following by any other roles the couple has assigned (flower girl, ring bearer). The couple may choose to walk the processional alone or with an escort. One partner may be waiting at the front, or both may walk separately. Or, the couple may choose to forgo this tradition altogether. It is entirely up to what the couple feels comfortable with.
Greeting – The officiant will welcome the guests and say a few words about the couple, their relationship, why they are there, and about the ceremony in general.
Readings / Music – Depending on the couple’s preference, there may be passages, quotes, or readings which may incorporate the theme of love in them. Music or hymns may also be played, depending on the couple’s preference.
Vows – The couple will make a commitment to each other, just as in a traditional wedding.
Exchange of Rings – The couple will then exchange rings and express the meaning of the rings to each other.
Pronouncement of Marriage – The officiant will announce that the couple is now married/joined/united/wed. The wording is entirely up to the officiant and couple. Should the couple choose to kiss, the officiant will announce it.
Recessional – The couple will leave the ceremony location as unified partners. Similar to traditional weddings.
Reception – Most couples will follow the ceremony with a reception of some kind. The reception may be formal or casual. It may or may not include the traditional wedding elements such as first dance, cake cutting, or bouquet toss. Whatever the couple feels comfortable with is what should be included in the reception.