Commitment ceremonies were often thought to be reserved only for same-sex couples, but same-sex couples can legally wed now that same-sex marriage became legally recognized in the United States in June 2015. The Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage virtually eliminates the need for commitment ceremonies, but there are still many couples, gay and straight, who choose to have them.
Any couple can join together in a commitment ceremony. They are many couples who don't want to get legally married, but still want to have the ritual and tradition of a wedding and be able to celebrate their love for one another with their family and friends.
Since a commitment ceremony is not legally binding, anyone can marry you. It can be a close friend, a family member or a religious leader.
A Friend or Family Member
When considering asking a friend or family member to marry you, think about whether or not they are comfortable speaking in public. This person will have to stand in front of an audience and speak clearly and easily.
Consider people who you know that have had long, successful marriages or unions, as they will often have wise words to say about the nature of love and marriage.
A Religious Leader
If you're looking for an ordained religious leader, speak with a minister or rabbi from your congregation. Clergy may be more willing to perform a union if they know you personally, have a good understanding of your relationship and recognize why you do not want to marry legally.
If you are committing to a same-sex union and your congregation or faith won't recognize it, consider one of the many churches that do, including the Unitarian church and Metropolitan Community Church. Unitarian ministers, in particular, are known to be incredibly understanding and respectful of others' beliefs and don't require you to convert to the religion. Many religions leave the choice up to the individual clergy, including the Episcopalian, Protestant, Buddhist and Reform Judaism congregations.
Check local LGBT resources, like websites and newsletters, to know what your options are.
After You've Chosen Your Officiant
Your officiant should be available to you during the wedding planning process to go over the order of service, what their remarks will be, how you will handle the vows and anything they will ask the congregation to do, i.e., stand or kneel for certain parts, join in singing or jointly bless the union.
If there isn't anyone who you feel is appropriate to perform the ceremony, consider doing so yourselves. In this scenario, you would welcome everyone and thank them for coming. You might say a few words about why having a public ceremony is important to you, or talk about how you met and the general history of your relationship. You would then say your vows, exchange rings, take part in a unity ceremony, etc.
It is recommended that you have everything memorized or be a good extemporaneous speaker, as you won't have anyone to tell you what to say and reading off of note cards will look a little tacky.