Commitment Ceremonies - Pam Nelson

Commitment ceremonies:

A commitment ceremony is an alternative to a wedding but is not legally binding. Couples usually choose a commitment ceremony to publically affirm their feelings for each other and their intention to be partners in life and love.

Not everyone wants to get legally married, but perhaps you still want to express your commitment to each other. This ceremony can be formal, informal, casual…. you name it!

You can still include vows, readings, exchanging rings, music and any cultural traditions or symbols you may want.

And then have a party afterwards!


People who don’t have specific religious beliefs or don’t want to baptise or christen their child sometimes select to have a “Naming Ceremony”.

This gives them the opportunity to invite a group of family and friends together and celebrate the arrival of their new baby or older child.

Sometimes this occurs if a child is adopted (at any age). Godparents or mentors can be chosen and introduced as an important part of the child’s life.

Symbols such as candles, time capsules, photo board, album, or the planting of a tree can be meaningful. And there are some beautiful and relevant poems, music and readings available to provide colour and meaning to this ceremony.

A certificate is presented to the family at the conclusion of the naming ceremony. (And yes – I am happy to wear fairy wings for the occasion!)


Renewal of vows:

(or “vowel renewal” as one celebrant who shall not be named calls it!)

Some people choose to renew or reaffirm their wedding vows, often at an important anniversary, birthday or event.

This can be as simple or elaborate as you require. Some people virtually recreate their wedding!

Others are happy to have a group of friends and family over for a bbq in the garden and say “I do” all over again.

There are a variety of reasons to wish to reaffirm your wedding vows – but mostly it comes down to celebrating the growth and continuity of your relationship as a couple, with people who may or may not have been there when you married originally.



Funerals can still be a celebration of someone’s life, no matter the circumstances of their death, and a personal ceremony that uses words, music and readings can help to farewell a loved one in a memorable way.

I will work closely with you and listen carefully to your requests, then put together an appropriate service that represents a fitting “goodbye” to your loved one.

Memorial services:

(Or a “Celebration of Life Service”)

A memorial service can be a variety of things – a way to celebrate and remember a loved one who has died, a non-religious funeral, on the occasion of the scattering of ashes, or a ceremony held on the anniversary of a death.

Memorial services can include music, readings and symbols. Children and family can be involved.

A eulogy can be written and spoken. In some instances, memorial services include the wishes of the deceased loved one (sometimes they are involved in the pre-planning as well).