Celebrate your Love with a Handfasting, Union or Commitment Ceremony celebrant Perth WA

Maybe you are an unconventional kind of person.  Or maybe you are in a non-traditional kind of relationship.  Or maybe you seek the depth of commitment which traditionally goes with marriage, but do not wish to involve either church or state in your union.  Or maybe you want to take a further step in deepening your commitment to the relationship, but you are not ready to get legally married at this stage.

If you would like an alternative wedding – a handfasting, a betrothal or a commitment ceremony, or some other form of ceremony to celebrate your union – you have come to the right place to find your commitment ceremony celebrant!

Alternative wedding ceremonies can be personally co-created for you by Ishara, Civil Celebrant in Merriwa, Perth’s northern suburbs, Western Australia.

Sometimes you either do not wish, or are not legally entitled, to formalise your relationship with a legal solemnisation of marriage. (Perhaps you may be considering having a legal wedding later on, or maybe not.) You can still have your wedding experience. An alternative wedding ceremony can be every bit as meaningful and memorable as a legal marriage ceremony.

If you are looking for a celebrant who will listen respectfully and without judgement to your needs and ideas for your special day, you need look no further…

As your commitment ceremony celebrant, I will work with you to co-create the ceremony of your dreams.

Mature couple hold a commitment ceremony in their home garden in Perth, Western Australia
Commitment ceremony in the front garden of a Perth home

Many couples who are exploring alternatives to a legal wedding are uncertain as to what might be involved in holding a commitment ceremony or handfasting. In what way is it similar or different to a traditional marriage ceremony? The answer is, it can be as similar or different as you yourselves wish. My role as the celebrant is to work with you to create a union or commitment ceremony which feels like an authentic expression of the two people you are and the relationship you are co-creating together.

Handfasting Wedding – Tying the Knot

Commitment ceremony celebrant Perth tying the ribbons at a handfasting wedding ceremony in Perth WA
Hands are bound with ribbon at a handfasting ceremony

Handfasting is an old European folk-custom which pre-dates the Christianisation of marriage. For those folk for who had no need to enter into contractual arrangements about the endowment of property, getting married was a relatively simple matter of declaring your intention in the witness of your local community. One way to do this was to have your hands ceremonially bound together with ribbon or cord, symbolising your intention to join your lives and fortunes – hence the term handfasting.

Traditionally a handfasting might initially be made for a year and a day, a form of ‘trial marriage’ which left the couple free to part at the end of this time if no child was concieved. The ritual of handfasting has been popularised by contemporary neo-pagans.

These handfasting ceremonies often take place within a circle and may incorporate other symbolic ritual elements such as calling in the elements – air, fire, water and earth – and the four directions – east, north, west and south – to bring blessings to the union.

Commitment Ceremony, Union Ceremony or Betrothal Ceremony

Couple chose a non-legal wedding ceremony to reflect their personal beliefs about marriage
Commitment ceremony wedding conducted by Ishara

The contemporary concept of a commitment ceremony is very similar to the original intention of handfasting, in that it creates a formal opportunity for the loving couple to pledge their love and commitment to each other and in front of a witness. Some couples will invite their community of friends and family to witness and bless their union. Others choose to hold the ceremony privately in the presence of the celebrant alone. Either way, a union or commitment ceremony may be a full traditional wedding – simply omitting the legal documents required to formally register a marriage according to Australian law. Or it may fill the role of a betrothal ceremony, marking a stepping stone in the deepening of the relationship. (With the possibilty of a legal wedding later.) Although a commitment or union ceremony does not involve legal paperwork, you may still wish to include the signing of a keep-sake certificate as a personal record of the occasion.

What Happens in a Commitment Ceremony

Perth commitment ceremony celebrant Ishara assisted these two women to have their wedding experience when legal marriage was not yet an option
Two brides make their promises (before marriage equality became law)

The heart of a handfasting, union or commitment ceremony is the formal exchange of promises – the ‘vows’. These may use traditional wording, or be composed by the couple for the occasion. Sometimes couples will also choose to speak spontaneously from their own hearts.

It is a good idea to give significant thought to the words you use, and to what following through on that promise might look like in practice.

For most people, symbolic wedding rituals are an important element. Here we can draw inspiration from any of the world’s cultural or religious traditions. Many of the traditional rituals associated with weddings symbolise the permanent joining of two individuals as they commit themselves to a shared future within the relationship. Many couples choose to exchange rings as part of their ceremony – although there is no requirement to do so.

I will help you design a ceremony to suit your tastes, so there’s no need to have it all figured out before you come to see me. However, if you would like to start thinking about symbolic elements to include in your ceremony, you’ll find a range of suggestions on this page. 

Many of my clients also like to choose one or more inspirational readings or poems for me or a close friend or family member to read at the ceremony.

Taking the Next Step

As your commitment ceremony celebrant, I will hold a space for you to have the ceremony that fits your shared values and is an authentic expression of the love that brought you together. As your officiant, I’ll be there to guide the two of you, and any guests you choose to invite, smoothly through the process of creating and enacting your ceremony, so that you can focus on allowing yourselves to feel the love and blessings of your special day. If you would like to explore whether a non-traditional form of wedding or commitment ceremony might suit you, I’d be delighted to answer any questions you may have. Contact me to check my availability to be your celebrant on your preferred ceremony date!

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