Commitment ceremonies have been on the rise in recent years. The reasons for this choice are many. This can be explained by the fact that couples do not identify as much with the Church as before. Beyond the official ceremony at the town-hall, often felt as a little too "quick", these couples wish to create a more personal celebration around their love.

For couples of different faiths, it simplifies things because it is not necessary to privilege the religion of one or the other.
And for LGBT couples, it is an ideal occasion to manifest their love in broad daylight with their dearest people.

This is why, the Secular Ceremony is more and more considered, if one wishes to "feel good on D day". Indeed, how many couples around me tell me: "we wondered what we were doing there" or "we did not recognize ourselves in the speech of the priest or the mayor "... But finally, what is the Secular Ceremony? Here are some answers to the questions you often ask yourself.

What is the Secular Ceremony ?

The secular ceremony is a wedding ceremony that allows two people to confirm their commitment towards each other. It is the alternative to the religious ceremony, and contains all the symbols of commitment through marriage (exchange of vows, exchange of riangs, speech of the officiant...) It allows you to create entirely the whole course of your ceremony. Thus, there's no question of missing out on your wedding or having to undergo a ceremonial that does not look like you.

It also leaves a lot more freedom : because it is not governed by any rules, we can decide to do absolutely what we want.
A Commitment ceremony can take place in the open air, in a field, in the middle of an olive garden or feet in the sand in the South France or in a dream destination in a foreign country. You will then be able to foresee all the important elements for you which will guarantee you to live, when the time comes, the perfect ceremony of which you have dreamed.

Yes, but you still need to know where to start, how to set it up, who to ask to speak, how long it should last, etc. One is therefore a little helpless in front of so many possibilities! The organization of your ceremony is an opportunity to reflect on the couple, your story, what you are. This part is the most important because it is the heart of the speech of your ceremony. It allows your guests to discover you differently, it is a privileged moment where we can slip anecdotes, stories...

What is a Secular Ceremony Celebrant ?

To officiate your ceremony, you can either ask a loved one, if you know he has a pretty pen and speaks easily in public, or call in a "professional."
The officiant will play a role essential the day of your wedding. The conduct of your ceremony will be one of the highlights of your wedding and will long remembered. So choose a person whose writing and charisma you love and with whom the flow goes well. You will then have to entrust your story to him through some questions about you, your couple, your meeting, your characters, your common memories, etc. so that he can tell your story in the most personalized way possible.
Together, you can define the tone you want to give to this celebration, rather formal, humorous, offbeat, etc .; decide how the ceremony you want, what are the highlights, if you want to create a ritual that makes sense to you. The officiant will also write a full speech tailored to your story. This is the expertise that a professional officiant can bring you.
A true professional will advise you throughout the preparation to bring you one of the most moving moments of your life.
Read more ...

How long should a ceremony last?

A Secular Ceremony lasts an average of 45 minutes.
If you reach an hour, some guests may find the time long and 30 minutes can give your ceremony a quick look.
Three quarters of an hour from the installation of guests to the exit of the bride and groom is a good compromise to ensure everyone has a good time without being bored. And do not forget that you probably do not want to stay in front of everybody for an hour or an hour and a half ...

How long should each guest's speech last?

A speech that does not exceed 5 minutes is ideal.
This may seem long when it comes to a speech, but do not forget that the person must stand up, put themselves in place, possibly present themselves, say their speech, and kiss the bride and groom. All this takes time, so do not minimize the length of each speech, at the risk of making the ceremony too long.
So be sure to ask your speakers to limit their text to 400-500 words

What is the structure of a Secular Ceremony?

Even if the secular ceremony allows the greatest freedom, it is clear that it is still structured according to recurring highlights. How could we skip the entry and the exit of the bride and groom, for example?
The "classic" structure is most often as follows :

The Procession
(Arrival of the wedding party followed by the Groom, and then the Bride)

Welcome Words
(The officiant salutes and thanks the guests for being present, introduces himself and explains why he is there, confides on the emotions he felt when you entrusted him with this role, etc.)

Explain the reasons of a Secular Ceremony
(Not everyone has attended a secular ceremony yet, so it is sometimes important to contextualize this celebration and tell the guests why you chose this type of ceremony.)

Story of the Couple
(The officiant tells about your meeting, your love, anecdotes,...)

Speech by Relatives or Friends
(Reading texts, speeches, poems, ...)

(There are many rituals, find out which ones you like).

Exchange of Vows
(I provide the handkerchieves...)

Exchange of Consents
(This is not mandatory and it should not have anything formal.The officiant can turn the traditional phrase "Do you want to take so-and-so for your husband/wife" in a funny question in order to pronounce the famous "Yes"!)

How many people should speak?

I generally suggest a maximum of 4 speeches.
If you respect the 5-minute rule, this means that the interventions will last a total of 20 minutes, which is almost half of the ceremony. It's perfect, but you should not go beyond that, at the risk of having redundancies in the texts and speeches or having a ceremony a little lengthy. Keep in mind that we want to capture the attention of each guest and that a perfect ceremony is a well-paced ceremony.

Which Rituals should we choose?

Rituals are symbolic acts that punctuate the ceremony. There are dozens, which you can create, copy or adapt according to what touches you. It may consist of planting a tree as a sign of your love, of tying a link around your hands (i.e. handfasting), of creating a cocktail whose ingredients represent your character traits, etc.
However, nothing requires you to chose a ritual. Let's not forget that the exchange of vows and rings is already a ritual in itself, and not least.
Here are a few examples of favorite rituals...

Shoud we exchange Vows?

Once again, you do exactly what you want. If you are two great sentimentals who want to declare your love on the day that celebrates it, do not hold back. And conversely, if you are more modest style, nothing requires you to spread your feelings in public. You can also decide to say a part of your wishes during the ceremony and then find a moment in a tete-a-tete to share a beautiful declaration of love.
The wishes of the future bride and groom can be identical and in this case, each one will repeat a sentence that you have written or chosen together. They can also be written separately. Again, there are no rules.
Here are a few tips to help you write your vows...

How much does a wedding officiant cost?

Depending on how much you value your wedding ceremony, you will find different types of wedding officiants.

To make things simple, I'll say there are 3 kinds of wedding officiants, and of course, 3 price ranges.

  • Less than $500
  • From $500 € to $850
  • From $850 € to $1,500 €

The cost of a wedding officiant is fairly the same in France and in Spain, where I also work part of the year.
To understand better what justifies such prices higher than in the US, read this...