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Planning your commitment ceremony
Tips for getting it all together if you’re planning a ceremony in the Carolinas

Unless you’ve planned to go to Canada or any of the other countries that allow same-sex marriages mentioned in our lead story (see State of Same-Sex Marriage, p.1), then your options in the Carolinas are limited to private commitment ceremonies or ceremonies offered to same-sex couples by the Metropolitan Community Church, the Unitarian Church, the United Church of Christ or any other independent places of worship that welcome gays and lesbians.

Together a same-sex couple can create a commitment ceremony that will be true to their relationship and a thing to cherish for years to come.
For most gays and lesbians in a committed relationship — a ceremony is self affirming to the couple and it allows the two of you to announce your love in a formal manner that involves some kind of ritual.

Unclear as to how to proceed? It’s paramount that your ceremony captures the depths of your feelings, love and commitment for one another. The intimate details should be chosen carefully — from clothing, your vows and the place you choose to have your ceremony — as all of it tells your friends and family about your relationship.
If the two of you have discussed your desires at length and you’re ready to get the show on the road, here are some tips to aid in your planning.

Making the announcement
What works for you? This is love and — hopefully — a lifetime commitment, so you should be joyous and forthright about it all. When it comes time to send out the invitation, choose whatever phrase you like: wedding, holy union or commitment ceremony. If those don’t work grab a thesaurus and see what other options suit you!

Let’s get personal
This is truly about how the two of you feel about each other — it’s your day! The language you choose — spoken word, a legendary poem, music and decorative art — should capture that essence. Tell your friends and family about plans for the future, what brought you together and the elements of each other’s personalities that made you fall in love.

Don’t forget the rehearsal dinner
Look at your wedding as a personal show — just like theater, you wanna get it right! That’s why rehearsal dinners are key. Practice the entire ceremony from entrance, vow exchange and ring ceremony to the signing of your certificate and recessional.

It’s all about presentation
When it comes time for the big moment, how do you wanna proceed? The options are endless: the two of you can enter simultaneously to a favored tune or an individual of your choice (like a parent, close friend, brother or sister) can escort you separately to the place where the ceremony is conducted. A presentation in song or spoken word by the person of your choice to honor your relationship adds a nice touch at this point.

Get it on paper
In the Carolinas, it’s purely symbolic and carries no legal binding, but it does say something about the two of you on a personal level and holds a lot of meaning and emotional gratification for the couple: a commitment certificate. The individual conducting your ceremony can invite the two of you to sign the document following the speaking of your vows.

Use the candles

The beauty of the open flame is obvious. That’s probably why couples have had romantic candlelit dinners, heartfelt evenings by the fireside and used candles to symbolize unity in marriage ceremonies for years. Candles have been used throughout the ages in many different ways. The two of you can light a single candle together or you can involve friends and family in lighting multiple candles as a lead in to the ceremony — be creative!

This is a special day that you’ll be looking back on for the rest of your life together — so choose your attire carefully.
Choosing the proper attire
This is a special day that you’ll be looking back on for the rest of your life together — so choose carefully. You’ll want to look your very best so pick out what you think captures your best side. Color is important here: weave your favorite throughout the entire presentation - from invitation and ceremony to decor and reception.

To ring or not to ring
Some couples often choose unique ways of displaying their bond — I know one pair who had matching tattoos — while many others like to stick to the traditional exchanging of rings. If you know what your partner likes and you know they’ll love your selection — plan to surprise each other. Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to go ring shopping together.

Going beyond the typical guest book
In addition to having your guests sign in — include a special memories book to be circulated during the reception so that friends and family can include tales of their life with you and express their feelings of love and support for the relationship.
Add a lasting touch

Have the ceremony or reception at your home and mark the moment historically with the planting of a rose bush, a bartlett pear tree or some other beautiful flowering tree or plant of your choice that will continue to grow in conjunction with your love!

— For additional helpful info visit www.celebrantusa.com or www.rainbowweddingnetwotk.com.

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