Alternative Wedding ceremonies personally co-created for you by Ishara, Civil Celebrant in Merriwa, Perth, 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.
As your commitment ceremony celebrant Perth WA, I will work with you to co-create the ceremony of your dreams.
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… 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
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
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
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.
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!