What is a commitment ceremony?

by Steve Pritchard-Jones

A commitment ceremony allows a couple to make a commitment to one another without legal rights or responsibilities. You can exchange vows, exchange rings and kiss each other to express your love for one another.  How you choose to express your commitment to your partner is a personal choice and for some couples in modern times, a legal wedding might not be right for them. As a couple, you may not want to enter a legal civil partnership and a commitment ceremony could be for you if you’d like to express your commitment to your partner.


Commitment ceremonies have long been used as an alternative to a wedding ceremony and these types of ceremonies and informal unions have been happening for hundreds of years, due to same-sex couples being forbidden to marry by many religions or just being frowned upon by certain cultures in society especially when at this present point in time only 32 out of 195 countries allow same sex marriage.

Is it legal, or not?

A commitment ceremony has no legal status in the UK and it’s not a legal marriage ceremony. You don’t require anyone to bear witness to either the signing of the certificate or the ceremony itself, unlike at a legal wedding.

What is a commitment ceremony?

A Commitment Ceremony is a beautiful and dignified ceremony for couples, of any gender who want to make a public declaration of their life-long commitment and love for each other. 

The important thing to note about a Commitment Ceremony is you can say your vows, have stories or readings, play music, exchange commitment rings in front of your friends and family without any legal rights or responsibilities.

Where can you have a commitment ceremony?

Anywhere! A commitment ceremony can take place in any location of your choice.

Can you have a commitment ceremony in a chapel or church?

Commitment ceremonies are generally not permitted in religious buildings.

Can anyone have a commitment ceremony?

In a word, yes! Any couple regardless of their sexual orientation, religion, nationality, race, etc can have a commitment ceremony.

Traditional Celtic hand tying, ‘tying the knot’ comes from an old Irish tradition that symbolizes the bond between two people in the same way that the exchanging of rings does in most ceremonies today.

What is a commitment ring?

A commitment ring represents your vows and establishes your love and commitment to each other. You don’t need to have one, it’s your personal choice. You may prefer to have a handfasting ceremony instead. This ceremony involves your hands bound together by ribbons and blessed by your celebrant. There are many other rituals for you to choose from, have a look at my blog about rituals on my website www.pjtopnote.co.uk/blog/ for further information.  

Do you have to follow a set script or set format?

No! You can have whatever you want. 

What is the format of a commitment ceremony?

It is up to you. Freedom of choice! The commitment ceremony is unique and personalised to suit you rather than set script or religious text.

You can write your own vows, and choose poems, music, readings or stories that are meaningful to you both.

Possible format

Welcome and introductions by celebrant

Reading, a poem, or story by one of your family or friends

Recite your promises to one another


Exchange vows 

Exchange rings

The signing of the certificate accompanied by music of your choice

Declaration of commitment, the kiss and parting words by your celebrant

Next steps

If you are looking for a commitment ceremony then please get in touch, I would love to hear from you. I can meet with you as a venue of your choice of on a virtual platform such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. Following our discussions, I will work with you and create for you a personalised ceremony that will celebrate your love for each other and your commitment to each other.

Further help and advice?

If you want to know anything else about the commitment ceremony or any other ceremony, then please feel free to give me a call on 07988 626583 or email steve@pjtopnote.co.uk or visit my website www.pjtopnote.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.


Top Note Ceremonies ‘at your service’



Tel: 08988 626583

Steve Pritchard-Jones

Steve Pritchard-Jones

I am an independent civil celebrant conducting weddings, celebration of life/funerals, commitment, civil partnership, renewal of vows, adoption welcoming, naming, pet funerals, internment or scatter of ashes, memorials service, and even divorce ceremonies in Shropshire, West Midlands, Mid and North Wales, Derbyshire, Staffordshire & throughout the UK.

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