So, what actually takes place during a civil partnership ceremony? What needs to be said and how long does it take?
The ceremony itself is very similar to a civil wedding and can take from 10 to 30 minutes. In addition to the required legal statements, registrars offer couples a variety of vows to make the ceremony as personal as possible, or they can write their own.
On arrival at the venue or register office, the Superintendent Registrar will meet the couple privately to explain the procedure, whilst guests take their places for the ceremony. The Superintendent Registrar then enters the ceremony room ahead of the couple (who may enter either separately or together) and the civil partnership ceremony takes place.
The registrar welcomes everyone with the words:
“Today they will affirm their love and publicly declare their commitment to each other.”
The registrar will then ask if anyone knows any reason why the couple cannot form a civil partnership, after which the following statement is read out.
“(Your name) and (your partner’s name) have chosen to pledge themselves to each other by committing to a legally binding contract. Their partnership will enable the love and respect that they have for each other to develop into a deep and lasting relationship. We, who are witnessing your civil partnership hope that despite the stresses that are inevitable in any life, your love, trust and understanding of each other, will increase your contentment and heighten your joy of living.”
The couple will then make a declaration of vows such as:
“I (your name) pledge to share my life openly with (your partner’s name). I promise to cherish and tenderly care for you, to honour and encourage you, I will respect you as an individual and be true to you through good times and bad. To these things I give my word.”
“I (your name) choose you above all others, to share my life. I promise to honour this pledge as long as I live.”
Exchange of Rings
An exchange of rings may then take place with the words:
“This ring is a token of my abiding love and a sign of the promise I make to you today.”
The registrar may then say the following optional words:
“Every day you live, learn how to receive love with as much understanding as you give it. Find things within yourself, then you can share them with each other. Do not fear this love. Have an open heart and a sincere mind. Be concerned with each other’s happiness. Be constant and consistent in your love. From this will come security and strength.”
The signing of the civil partnership schedule then follows together with the presentation of a commemorative certificate. The registrar then makes the parting statement:
“Now the ceremony is over and the experience of living day by day as legal partners is about to begin – go and meet it gladly.”
The length of your civil partnership ceremony will depend entirely on whether you choose to make personal statements in addition to those required legally.
As with a civil wedding, you may have readings, poetry and music, but as a civil partnership registration is an entirely secular process, the Civil Partnership Act prevents any religious service from taking place. The Act does not provide for a ceremony so couples who wish to arrange one must do so with the relevant registration authority, where the registration will take place.
Guest post by Lester Gethings
Image from Matt Pereira Photography