As a relatively new phenomenon, there really isn’t a typical Civil Partnership Ceremony that you can point to and define as 'the norm', but full Commitment Ceremonies have recently emerged as the top choice for couples here in the UK. This article takes a closer look at Civil Partnership Commitment Ceremonies and outlines the various stages in depth.
Before we go on to take a closer look at a Commitment Ceremony, it is worth mentioning that there are two other ways in which a Civil Partnership can be formed, both simpler and less elaborate than the full Civil Partnership Ceremony.
The first method is the most simple of them all and simply requires the couple to sign a Civil Partnership document before the eyes of the Registrar and their two witnesses at a local Register Office. The whole process lasts only a few moments but, for the shy and retiring type, is a simple and effective way to join together in union.
The second method involves a brief Civil Partnership Ceremony at an approved venue with both family and friends present. The ceremony includes both vows and the signing of a Civil Partnership document and will last around 10-15 minutes in total. More elaborate than the first option outlined above, this method still stops short of the full Civil Partnership Commitment Ceremony which many couples will opt for.
A full Commitment Ceremony includes readings, music, the exchange of vows and the signing of a Civil Partnership document. Taking place at an approved venue of choice, the whole thing can last up to half an hour, dependent upon the readings and vows chosen by the couple. The full process from beginning to end is showcased below:
Around twenty minutes before the Civil Partnership Ceremony is due to start, the couple and their two witnesses will meet with the Registrar to confirm final arrangements and sign the necessary paperwork and make any outstanding payments. During this time the Ushers will greet guests as they arrive and music may be played to the gathering guests.
Entrance & Introduction
The couple enter the room usually accompanied by music, either from a pre-recording or live musician(s). The purpose of the gathering and of what is about to happen will then be explained by the Registrar – they may also take this opportunity to remind guests about rules surrounding photography, videography, confetti etc.
The Registrar will then ask the couple to stand and to confirm that they are legally free to enter into a Civil Partnership and the couple will then declare that they are taking one another as Civil Partners – the following words, or similar versions thereof, may be used:
‘I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I <Name>
may not register a Civil Partnership with <Name>’.
This would be said by both partners who would then both go on to say the following words,
or similar versions thereof:
‘I understand that on signing the Civil Partnership Schedule that I, <Name>,
will be forming a Civil Partnership with <Name>.'
For those couples looking to include a reading or piece of music, this point in the Civil Partnership Ceremony provides the first real opportunity to do so.
You will need to confirm with your Registrar prior to the day that both this slot and the reading/piece of music that you have in mind are suitable, but once approval is gained it is at this point that your chosen guest or professional performer will take centre stage. For suggestions & help with Civil Partnership readings, check out our civil ceremony readings guide and for the perfect ceremony music our Civil Wedding Music guide is a must read.
Declaration of Vows
It is customary for the vows to be spoken at this time, although they are optional. The Registrar will offer couples suggested vows, although in most cases it should be possible to pen your own and, on approval from the Registrar, use them instead. If couples go down the line of the suggested vows, the Registrar may suggest something along the lines of:
‘Will you solemnly promise that you will always protect this man/woman with your utmost care, that you will honour and cherish him/her in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, and that in all things you will be to him/her a faithful and loving partner.'
Following the optional vows, the couple and their two witnesses will be asked to sign the Civil Partnership Schedule. This can be accompanied by some music to entertain the guests whilst the formalities take place.
Exchange of the Rings
At this point in the Civil Partnership Ceremony, if the couples choose to do so, the rings (or other suitable item of jewellery) are exchanged. The Registrar will prompt you to say something along the lines of:
‘I give you this ring/jewellery as a symbol of my love and of our Civil Partnership today’.
Registrar: ‘As a token of the contract into which you have entered,
these rings/this jewellery are/is given and received’.
Once any rings or jewellery has been exchanged, the final act of the Civil Partnership Ceremony is for the Registrar to announce to the couple and all present that they are now joined in union as Civil Partners. The following, or similar, words may be used.
‘By virtue of signing the schedule in my presence as a (Deputy) Registrar of Civil Partnerships, and before the witnesses, I declare that you, <Name>, and you <Name>, have now formed a Civil Partnership in accordance with the law. You may now kiss.’
Exit of the Couple
The couple, as Civil Partners, will lead the procession out of the venue (followed by members of the Wedding Party) accompanied by music (again harpists, string quartets or a track from a CD are options).
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.