Commitment Ceremonies following Civil Partnerships
or Register Office Weddings

Since 21st December 2005, same-sex couples in the UK have been able to have their relationships legally recognised in the same way as mixed-sex couples. I was privileged to be asked to write and conduct such a ceremony for the first same-sex couple in the UK to take advantage of the legislation, and have conducted several ceremonies since. I have also been delighted to write and conduct ceremonies for mixed-sex couples following a Register Office ceremony. All these have taken place in a variety of settings - a racecourse, a hotel, a hospice chapel, a hotel chapel and a garden, to name but a few.

These special days, these occasions when couples are ready to offer their love for all to witness and celebrate, are also unique moments on the same journey of life as that which includes farewells. And in the same way, some couples for whom the church is not a suitable or desirable medium through which they feel able to express such a public commitment now look more widely for a means by which their love can be celebrated.

There are, of course, individual clergy and indeed some churches (such as a fully inclusive church like Brightwaves who, when approached, are welcoming and accommodating with regard to same-sex blessings, or couples where one or both partners have a previous partner living. Hopefully, one day, the Church will openly accept such ceremonies as a matter of course. However, where couples (gay or straight) feel that their own spiritual position is better understood outside the constraints of current church policy, I try to create and offer a ceremony that acknowledges each couple's spirituality in a non-denominational way. Such ceremonies have no legal nature, of course - that is vested in the civil ceremony itself - but I hope that what we create for the celebration following the legal element captures something of the mystery of divine love shared by each couple, and allows them to be enriched and upheld by that which blesses them through the words we choose.

Civil Partnership

It would be my intention to see each couple at the least twice before the day itself, first to establish a human link between us and to get to know each other so that we can create something truly individual and unique. That doesn't mean to say that the service that is created cannot contain traditional and favourite symbols, prayers and blessings - but it also allows for the inclusion of poems and readings from a variety of traditions, and for new material to be used - perhaps something written especially for that couple or that occasion. Rings can be blessed, knots tied, songs sung, petals scattered... there are so many imaginative possibilities.

My services include all pre-ceremony visits, contact at any time via phone or e-mail, liaison with the printer (if a service booklet is required) and organist and / or musicians where appropriate, and an opportunity to rehearse the ceremony - always a good idea! I also provide a certificate to mark the day.

Since 2007, I have been privileged to conduct blessing services at Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa at Climping in West Sussex.