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Informal marriage celebration

(121 Posts)
pinkliquorice Sat 04-Nov-17 12:58:37

Me and my partner have been together almost 7 years, have two children together, live together etc.
We pretty much already assume we are a married couple and he has proposed but through talking about it for lots of reasons we are not sure an official wedding is right for us.
We’ve done a bit of research on informal marriages/common law marriages/ Sui iuris marriage but we don’t really understand it.
Can we still have a ‘wedding’ and celebrate and confirm our love for each other without the official wedding ceremony.
Anyone done this or would consider it?
Are there any pros and cons or this as opposed to just actually getting married?

2014newme Sat 04-Nov-17 13:00:59


2014newme Sat 04-Nov-17 13:05:29

Common law marriage does not exist and so for the legal protection of marriage you need to be married. Some of these legal protection can be gained via wills and other legal arrangements via a solicitor.
What you're talking about is a party to celebrate your relationship. There's no such thing as informal marriage. There can be informal weddings though.

pinkliquorice Sat 04-Nov-17 13:06:01


At what? hmm

BroomstickOfLove Sat 04-Nov-17 13:09:14

You could do that, but it would just be a party, really. Legal marriage gives you responsibilities and protections. If those are something that you both genuinely don't want, then having a commitment ceremony makes sense. But for most couples in a long term committed relationship, marriage makes sense, especially if you have taken time of work or made career sacrifices to care for children, if you own a good or other valuable assets, or if one of you gets seriously ill or dies.

If you have both decide do that you really don't want to get married, it's probably worth making an appointment with a solicitor to make sure that you have stuff sorted out for the future.

pinkliquorice Sat 04-Nov-17 13:10:13


We are not concerned about the legal protection of marriage, what ever that means.
It’s not a legal term in the uk but is often used socially.
Without doing an official marriage ceremony we want to celebrate and confirm our love so we can act and be viewed essentially as a married couple.

BroomstickOfLove Sat 04-Nov-17 13:10:55

I hate my autocorrect.

If you have taken time OFF work, or own a HOUSE, and have DECIDED not to get married.

2014newme Sat 04-Nov-17 13:12:00

Have a party then.
Legal protection are thingslike you being next of kin for each other, you may have already made wills to that effect. If you does your assets would go to him rather than your children etc

BroomstickOfLove Sat 04-Nov-17 13:12:18

A commitment ceremony won't make people treat you as a married couple, though.

SleepFreeZone Sat 04-Nov-17 13:12:54

I assumed you were going to say you wanted to get married without all the fuss of a party. But essentially you want the party without all the fuss of a wedding. That would be a party then 🤔

FellOutOfBed2wice Sat 04-Nov-17 13:14:23

Just get married. Why wouldn’t you? Doesn’t have to be a big deal. We got married on a Monday and spent less than £800 on everything including dress and food and booze for 50. Was fun and lovely and we are now married which affords us legal and financial peace of mind.

AnneLovesGilbert Sat 04-Nov-17 13:14:36

Depends on what you're hoping to get from it. You still won't be married or have the legal protection that gives you.

If that doesn't matter and you've taken the other necessary steps to protect yourselves, as above, then just do whatever feels right.

You could have a humanist ceremony. Order the book from the humanist society website which has a range of different types of services as a useful starting point. You could have a service which includes the DC if that would be meaningful. You could have music or readings, have a handfasting or light a symbolic candle, say specific meaningful words to each other, exchange rings or other significant tokens, sign a certificate to commemorate the day.

A humanist wedding isn't legal in England, though it is in Scotland, but I've been to two "weddings" with a humanist celebrant which you couldn't tell weren't official, where the couple did the legal bit in a 10 minute registry office thing beforehand.

Are you ideologically opposed to legal marriage? If not, you can make your wedding as meaningful, personal or off beat as you like. If you are and the state stamped bit of it doesn't sit right, I'd sort wills, deeds, insurance etc if you haven't, then have a service of sorts or a special ceremony combining none, some or all of the elements above to celebrate your love and commitment and invite people or just be you guys as appropriate.

SandyY2K Sat 04-Nov-17 13:21:11

There isn't a substitute for marriage sbd if thr legal protection isn't an issue, then I don't see the point.

You can have a celebration of commitment party.

pinkliquorice Sat 04-Nov-17 13:23:13

We have and will be taking other steps to protect ourselves and our children in case of a separation, illness or death etc.
No legal rights gained through marriage that can’t be gained separately are of importance to us.
A lot of the whole concept of marriage being married just seems off to us and I think as a pp called it a ‘commitment ceremony’ feels more right.
I know a lot of people who seem to just think marriage is what you do and the only option, and we just want to explore other ideas.

2014newme Sat 04-Nov-17 13:27:51

Yes you can have a party and call it anything you want. ✨🎉

lunabear1 Sat 04-Nov-17 13:29:29

OP why don't yourself partner and dc go on holiday and get married abroad? For example DH and I got married in the office of the city clerk whilst in New York. The "ceremony" took less than two minutes and is legally binding in the UK. Only needed one witness which was a photographer we met outside. so no need to do anything further. Then we went for a meal and watched a broadway show. Not saying you have to do this but if you're not keen on a big event (like I wasn't) you could turn it into a family holiday? Then maybe throw a party when you return

KanielOutis Sat 04-Nov-17 13:32:53

I don’t really see the point of a non wedding commitment party. You won’t be married after, and nothing will have changed. You won’t have the rights and protections of a spouse and nor will he. Maybe have a search for threads where long term co habiting relationships break down for an insight to what might happen in the future.

MongerTruffle Sat 04-Nov-17 13:35:23

There is the possibility that the government will allow heterosexual civil partnerships in the future. At the moment, the most secular thing you can do is go down to the register office and have a dinner at home. There is (currently) nothing available in the UK that can be compared to marriage.

pinkliquorice Sat 04-Nov-17 13:52:55


Marriage in itself does not increase love or commitment to each other in the slightest, if anything it forces it unaturally.
You could look at the threads and statistics on how many marriages end in divorce for an insight of what might happen in the future also.

drspouse Sat 04-Nov-17 13:56:00

No legal rights gained through marriage that can’t be gained separately are of importance to us.
Maybe not, but the ones you do gain that you (presumably) do want are a lot cheaper through marriage. Hence saving money for the party.

KanielOutis Sat 04-Nov-17 14:03:28

Yes marriages end in divorce. My own first marriage ended in divorce. I was protected after taking time out to raise children and had a lower income and earning potential as a result. When I divorced, I was very thankful we were married.

Ellisandra Sat 04-Nov-17 14:08:32

Pro: any excuse for a party is an excuse for a party, and you'll never have to go through divorce to get shot

Con: it's pointless - you want people to celebrate the fact you've got a boyfriend - yay you.

My friend had a wedding reception party without the wedding at the same time - reason, they married 5 years before. They married for money - he got relocated and if he was married, his company would pay him an extra £10K relocation and pay for some language lessons and retraining costs for his wife. But not his girlfriend. They weren't planning to marry yet but were committed - so 10 mins in the register office and they were sorted. Most people didn't know.

5 years on, when they would have got married, they decided to mark it. They couldn't get married, so they had the full works but with a humanist ceremony.

It was lovely. But it was meaningful because it was a delayed celebration of their legal commitment to each other.

It was just a celebration of being boyfriend and girlfriend.

Ellisandra Sat 04-Nov-17 14:09:21


GnomeDePlume Sat 04-Nov-17 14:10:08

What is it about the commitment party that you want? Are you concerned that people see you as less committed because you haven't had a party?

PollytheDolly Sat 04-Nov-17 17:39:40

Marriage in itself does not increase love or commitment to each other in the slightest, if anything it forces it unaturally.

Disagree but each to their own. You seem to know what you’re doing and what you want so do what’s best for you.

We eloped to Devon, just us and our dog. Best day of our lives, it was wonderful and a day we cherish.

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