Gary & Rachel’s Story

Gary and I have both been married before and have both got children but we wanted to celebrate what we have together. We wanted to celebrate with our friends and family in a style similar to a wedding but we didn’t want something legally binding. We’ve been together five years and been through good times and bad, and we wanted to say we’re committed to staying together – that whatever happens, we’ll be together forever.

A ‘real’ wedding would have complicated our family situation but we wanted to underline what we mean to each other and our family. A commitment ceremony was the closest thing we could get to a wedding without the legal implications and when we found out about it, it just seemed right for us. We held the ceremony at the King’s Lynn registration office in October 2016.

The day was so relaxed, which was what we wanted, not a formal affair. We chose the wording for the ceremony along with the music and had the option to exchange personalied rings, which we did, and my son Luke, who is 10, handed them over to us.

The words we chose were perfect for us. A close friend, Keith Pearce, walked me into the room to music but no-one gave me away as I didn’t want anyone replacing my father, David Harwood, who is no longer with us. Keith did a reading, along with my best friend Tina Snow and afterwards we had photographs with family and friends before going for a meal, with some close friends joining us later on.

I wore a dress and Gary and Luke were suited and booted but it was a very laid-back and individual day compared to a wedding. I think everyone was a bit confused about what a commitment ceremony was before the day, but everyone got there in the end – we didn’t have wedding cards, just those of congratulations and everyone said how relaxed and nice the day was.

Having already been married I saw how stressful organising a wedding can be then but I really enjoyed organising our commitment ceremony.