While traditional wedding ceremonies with vows, a religious component, and ring exchanges are beautiful, but not necessarily right for every couple. In addition to this, not every couple feels the need for their love and commitment to tie in with a legally binding marriage contract. For these reasons, commitment ceremonies serve a similar purpose to a wedding ceremony but can be molded and shaped to fit the wants and needs of different types of couples/ love.

According to Brides.com, commitment ceremonies historically have been used by couples who could not legally get married by the church or the state due to their sexual orientation or race. These “informal unions” have been used by couples for centuries. Commitment ceremonies can also be conducted before or after a wedding. Many couples use these types of ceremonies to recommit to each other after years of marriage, signifying their growing love, and further binding themselves to the other.

For many couples, a commitment ceremony is a right option due to their desire for this intimate moment to be just the two of them. Some classic wedding ceremonies require an officiant or witness (depending on the state), and many couples desire not to abide by these restrictions. Although these individuals may be sure that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, perhaps a marriage contract just isn’t necessary for the both of them.

The following three commitment ceremony types can include a legal marriage contract, or act as a display of love and commitment without legality.

1. Exchanging of Gifts

Many couples exchange gifts of meaning during their commitment ceremony. Although this is similar to exchanging rings and vows, the gift being exchanged can vary and have different meanings to the couple. There are no rules for commitment ceremonies, so this gift can be something important to the couple’s relationship or just a meaningful gesture of thoughtfulness and love. The gift could be jewelry, a pet, a meaningful letter or note, a scrapbook, etc. It doesn’t necessarily have to be extravagant to mean a lot to the couple.

2. Completing an Activity

Instead of a wedding ceremony, some adventurous couples enjoy completing an activity together to signify their commitment. The activity could end with an acknowledgment of commitment, or serve as the commitment itself. Some couples may opt to go for an exhilarating hike together, plant a tree, create art, etc. Making something new or sharing a wonderful experience may serve as the deep commitment and appreciation that a couple needs.

3. Travel

Traveling to a dream destination or location is another way to express the important commitment that marriage ensues. Perhaps traveling to a beautiful location such as Greece, Hawaii, Thailand, etc, and expressing your love and adoration for each other sounds like the perfect way to commit to your relationship. While these trips could include an elopement, they don’t have to– as the only thing that matters is what this gesture signifies to your relationship. So why not choose a stunning backdrop to commit to your partner– whether it be just the two of you or a small elopement ceremony.

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