Commitment ceremonies serve as an expression of a couple’s love and devotion without being a legal marriage. For couples who are heterosexual or LGBT, or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, who cannot or choose not to marry, the ceremony is also an opportunity to invite friends and family to witness the occasion. Modern or traditional, spiritual or not, the commitment ceremony is a personal decision for each couple, and the ceremony options can be as varied as the couples that seek them.
A garden location for a commitment ceremony can bring guests to an outdoor setting and be formal or casual. Most public gardens have services to assist in arranging any type of ceremony and may require at least six months' notice to reserve space. The couple also can utilize a friend's private garden depending on size of the guest list.
Museum or Historic Site
A museum or historic site like a home or local attraction can give the guests an opportunity to enjoy the ceremony and tour the venue. Most museums and historic sites have restrictions on the type of activities that can occur during a ceremony due to historical society rules, so inquire about the restrictions prior to making any final arrangements. Allow for a minimum of one year in advance to reserve space. You can find a list of historic sites at the National Park Services' website, and lists of local museums are available from your local chamber of commerce.
Special Location for Couple
Choosing a location that holds special meaning to the couple like an alma mater’s chapel or banquet hall or favorite restaurant could provide guests an opportunity to share an intimate and personal experience with the couple. Reserve these venues typically at least six months in advance. or for the most popular sites, a year or more advanced reservation is required.
Shared Hobby or Interest
Taking a shared hobby or interest of the couple and creating ceremony with this activity as its centerpiece is a creative way to express a commitment. If the hobby or interest requires the guest to participate or prepare for it, express those requirements as far in advance as possible. For example, if the ceremony involves sailing or a boat, some guests may need to seek medication for seasickness prior to coming to the ceremony.
Many facilities in the United States and overseas offer all-inclusive packages for commitment ceremonies. These packages typically arrange for on-site coordinators, options for catering, location decor and assistance with lodging and discounts for guests attending the ceremony. Travel sites like Priceline.com or Hotwire.com offer assistance with booking all-inclusive packages or contact a local professional travel agency for assistance. Consider notifying potential guests at least 18 months in advance to ensure that you can meet appropriate arrangements and financial obligations associated with attending the ceremony.
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Pamela Raymond, owner of The Raymond Experience, a firm specializing in public relations and event management, has been a published freelance writer for over 14 years with articles in Sauce Magazine, Uptown Magazine, Vital Voice and ALIVE Magazine and holds an MBA from Maryville University in St. Louis.