Non-traditional Non-wedding ideas

My girlfriend and I have been together for over a year now, and the relationship wonderful. We want to celebrate that somehow, but we’re both firmly opposed to marriage. We’ve decided we want to have a little get-together of family and close friends, but we’re not sure what to do once everyone gets there.

I’m looking for something that’s meaningful and romantic, and as far away from the traditional wedding as possible.

She DOES still want a ring. I definitely do not. I’ve tried to think of something as easy and convenient as a ring (as in wearing it… nothing easy or convenient about buying one of the damn things), but nothing really comes to mind.

We’re pretty open minded, so be creative. I think she’s going to draw the line at piercings and leather, but she seems open to anything that’s fun and sweet and what have you. Oh, and the Star Wars theme is definitely out. “I’m not wearing a gold bikini at our ceremony!” Spoilsport.

Any ideas you have or websites you’ve found dealing with this sort of thing would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and one last caveat. We’s be poor. It has to be cheap. I’m buying her a house, dammit… I can’t afford nothin’ fancy.

I’m sure you don’t want to do this, but here goes anyway.

My sister and her hubby got married Halloween night 1999. His band, which was at the time going through a little ghoul-punk thing, wanted to have their wedding between sets at one of the shows. They didn’t particularly want a regular minister, so I became ordained in the Universal Life Church and prepared to marry them. My mother was furious about it, so the drummer got ordained quickly and he performed the ceremony. Your guess is as good as mine as to why it was more acceptable than him, but there ya go. They married at midnight at the club they were playing in, wearing full ghoul-type (not Goth, really, more like Night of the Living Dead) makeup and clothes. My sister allowed my mom to purchase a wedding dress for her. When we got to the club mom nearly fainted when she saw how my sis had shitted it up with black streaks, rips, and dirty-looking scrapes. Both my parents were mortified and mom refuses to display any of the pictures in her house.

Yes, they’re still married; they just bought a house. Yes, they’re still freaks, too.


5th line, 2nd paragraph should read “for him” not “than him”.

If you aren’t getting married, why do you feel the need to have a party? What would this celebration be for? What would the ring be for? Would it just be a gift, or would it “mean” something? Do you plan to stay together forever, or not? Is this just a ploy to receive “wedding” gifts? (Pardon me for being so blunt, but if I were invited to something like this, that question would cross my mind, and I am sure that I am not alone.)

My opinion is that, since you noted a lack of money, you should either a)forgo the whole thing or, b) wait until you have bought and moved into your new house and then throw some sort of housewarming party. Perhaps a barbecue or a potluck. That way, you can show off your new house, and most people will be able to infer that you two have, indeed, shacked up. It will be quite unlike a wedding because it won’t be a wedding at all, or even a psuedowedding. If you want to hire a DJ and have a dance, or have a cake, or play charades, or whatever–go ahead, do what you can afford. If people wish to bring you housewarming gifts, that will be their prerogative. Any other commitment that you two make should be made in private. There should be no public “ceremony”.

You see, I would feel a bit odd about attending a “commitment ceremony” for a heterosexual couple. If you wish to commit yourselves to each other, then you can do that privately (and for free). If you want to proclaim that relationship to your families, friends, and the community at large–well, that’s what marriage is for. I, as a witness, would not really be sure what some other kind of ceremony was signifying, and why I needed to be involved if it’s not a “real” marriage. Do you know what I mean? I’m not sure why you and your girlfriend are “firmly opposed” to marriage, but it seems to me that you would like to reap at least some of the benefits of marriage. So, why are you so opposed to it? Don’t be surprised if the world at large occasionally refuses to recognize your relationship without that “little piece of paper,” especially since there are fewer and fewer states which recognize “common-law” marriage. If you happen to live in a state that does recognize common-law marriage, then this little ceremony (and the ring) would just add to the outward evidence that you are indeed married, license or not!

You certainly have the right not to get married. You may have a very good reason not to. But, IMO, if you are going to throw a wedding, have a ceremony, and exchange rings in public, you should be getting married. Anything else seems like a sham.

Tamex and anyone else interested in discussing the legitimacy of and reasons behind my “non-wedding” is welcome to join me in this thread. I would like to keep the current thread focused on ideas for my celebration.

jane_says, I had a friend in grade school who claimed his mom got married in a graveyard at midnight on Halloween wearing a black dress. He was a strange kid. When I asked for his phone number, he gave me the number for the front desk of some fancy hotel. Anyway, I didn’t believe him… until he brought pictures. I don’t think my girly is going to go for that, but we’re not totally opposed to costumes. :wink:

No star wars theme? I guess I can’t suggest the Villian’s March for your processional, then. (My wife nixed that one for my wedding, too)

I am a little confused…you want to have something that’s as far as possible from a traditional wedding, yet is “meaningful and romantic”…meaning what? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against commitment ceremonies, but it seems like you want something that’s both recognizable as a wedding-like ceremony while not being anything like a wedding ceremony. These goals are mutually exclusive.

Perhaps you could just throw a regular party, and announce it as “celebrating X years together”, then at the party propose a toast, and toast to the rest of your lives together. I think that’s about as far as you can get from a traditional wedding and still have it be relevant. Keep in mind, though, if you give her her ring when you make that toast, people will think you just got engaged, especially since she’s not giving you a ring in exchange.

As far as ring substitutes, there’s a ring tattoo. Some consider the ring tattoo a bit too Hell’s Angelsesque for their personal style. Or you could wear a particular necklace. Maybe an earring. Personally, I’d just go with the ring. They’re annoying, but they’re less annoying that most of the alternatives.

Having read your other thread, it is clear that I completely misunderstood what it was you wanted.

You should throw an anniversary party. Invite folks telling them it’s to celebrate your one year anniversary. Leave it at that.

Since you state (in the other thread) that you aren’t making a lifelong commitment, or really any particular commitment at all, no such thing should be announced at the party.

As for party ideas, there are infinite possibilities. Pretty much whatever you think is fun. Parties that I’ve enjoyed have included dancing, chocolate fondue, body painting, a Barney pin~ata, S&M, cooking, and mahjong. You should have no trouble coming up with many other possible themes.

Well, it strikes me that you could get some ideas from a “commitment” ceremony, which is what some gay/lesbian couples do when legal marriage is denied them. It’s a lot like a wedding, but it’s not a wedding. I am sure that you can find some transcripts, ideas, and suggestions on the web by entering those terms.

However, I really like Sengkelat’s suggestion of sort of an anniversary bash. Now I’m all for untraditional weddings (and non-weddings) and couples doing things their own way, but not everyone feels the same way. There are some people who think marriage is a very sacred thing, something that you either do or you don’t do–no halfway, no sort of. They might see a non-wedding ceremony as only going half-way, not honoring the institution of marriage or commitment in the manner they feel it is owed. Now, I understand that YOUR focus is on how committed you are to one another. But there are those who will see the NON-wedding as a focus on how UNWILLING you are to commit in the expected long-term way. Maybe you don’t care about what those people think–and perhaps you’re right not to. But I bring this up as a warning that some people might find any sort of ceremony to be off-putting or offensive.

I like the idea of celebrating a year together, and I like the idea of a toast. Maybe you can read a poem or make a statement to each other after the toast, or exchange some keepsake (although as Sengkelat aptly noted, some people will think that’s like getting engaged–you can’t win can you?) Maybe you could say something like “While we don’t believe marriage is in our future, we feel many more years of happiness are, and as a symbol of how much I’m looking forward to those years, I hope you’ll wear this ring.” Something like that makes it clear upfront that you’re not leading up to a future wedding.

Reading this thread and the other one, it really seems as though you want to celebrate your current relationship without publicly implying this relationship will continue. So I think the idea of an anniversary party is really what you want. You can have the party you want, make a few toasts, give each other some pretty non-ring jewelry (matching bracelets or tattoos would be nice) and generally celebrate the union that has already happened.
Another way to look at it, you are having the wedding feast without the contractual elements. All you really need to do, depending on your cultural background, is giver her father (or her ex-husband if they have a good relationship and would find it funny) the bride-price, beer and meat are traditional…mmmmmm barbque. Depending on her parents and their sense of humor, you can thank them for the good raising of their daughter and promise that if she wants to return you will let her go with good grace (this gives you an “out” for the relationship, while still making the implied promise you intend to stay together as long as possible).
While this would be a fun party to plan, I think you are going to have a frustrating afternoon explaining your committed but non-legal afternoon to all your guests. There will be very few people who will not view this as an engagement party. Good luck.

There are some pretty entertaining pagan handfasting rituals floating around - many of them are open-ended as far as the time of the relationship, or explicitly state that the parties will be together as long as they both want to be. (These are dandy for same-sex ceremonies, as well.)

Not saying you need to join your local coven, but feel free to use them as a template to write your own ceremony. Just an alternative to the mainstream.

PS - Pagans throw the best parties. Nobody goes home hungry or sober.