Before I get into our non-possessive ceremony, here's a little background on our relationship, for context…
My long-term partner and I decided to elope. We have been connected to each other for almost four years, and moved in together in October. Upon the finalization of her separation from the person she had been living with prior, we simply didn't see that there was anything else to do but whisk our parents away to a pretty notorious-for-elopements resort in a beautiful area on Vancouver Island, and “make it official.” We bought cute black outfits, I did both of our hair, and we got married on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a beautiful day.
Now, when I say “make it official,” I mean we decided to formally acknowledge, with both of our parents there to witness, that we intended to live our lives in parallel for the foreseeable future, and hopefully until we're old people. There are perks to being married legally, like access to health benefits, but there is also a pretty indisputable sense of intention. I think we both have a sense of permanence in each other's lives, but now more-so.
We get to occupy the marriage institution as visible queer people
Before looking at the practical benefits, though, we chose to do this in a legal sense because of politics. We are both queer people, have had every opportunity to blend into heteronormative privilege, and have done so previously. We are both very tired of that and the erasure that comes along with it. We also love each other a great deal and intend to be old ladies together. With that in mind, we felt pretty okay about making this move toward a bureaucratic commitment. It means we get to occupy the marriage institution as visible queer people, which we both think is pretty important. We have a lot of issues with erasure as bisexual people, both presenting as relatively femme, and would rather be erased into lesbianism than straightness, since it seems we are forced to choose. Hopefully with more people talking about this openly, there will be less erasure.
We prioritize each other's agency and are good communicators.
I lean more toward relationship anarchy because I actively politicize my relationship choices. My partner isn't into choosing a label for her leanings. Needless to say, we're both extremely non-monogamous. We prioritize each other's agency and are good communicators. We know that in choosing to marry each other, we are presenting as supportive of a structural hierarchy within our personal relationships where each other is at the top of the pyramid. This is not a structure we wish to perpetuate if one or both of us wants to introduce others as significant to us. We think a lot about this, and hope that other people we care about are aware that they are as important, or can be.
So, with all that said, I have included here our non-possessive ceremony script. I wrote most of it, under my partner's watchful eye, and I think it is good if you are looking to shed some of the possessive wording that usually comes with standard marriage ceremonies. We included some language stemming from Buddhism (my partner practices). I drew inspiration for the ring exchange from the meaning behind why engineers wear an iron ring.
Our non-possessive ceremony
Officiant: Welcome, everyone. We have gathered here today to rejoice and celebrate the love and commitment two people exhibit. [Name] and [Name] have decided to choose a path together, to share in some of life's incredible moments, and to assist in making each other's dreams into realities.
Before going further, I wish to acknowledge the ancestral, traditional, and unceded Aboriginal territories of the [insert first nations band specifications for your region], and in particular, the [insert specific band name] on whose territory we stand.
This marriage is being created through equality, mutual respect, and love. [Name] and [Name] bring with them the experiences which drew them together, and their dedication to their personal growth. They bring the intentions of their hearts as a treasure to be shared, and they bring with them the ability to view the world, themselves, and each other with patience, liberty, and a loving sense of humour.
Legally required wording to be married (in Canada, fill in your own here), repeated by both parties:
I solemnly swear that I know of no lawful reason why I, [Name] should not be joined in marriage to [Name], and I ask those present to witness as I take them to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband/person.
Officiant: Will you please turn to face each other as you share your vows.
(We wrote our own and spoke about what we were going to do to support each other and defend each other's agency. Our eyes managed to stay relatively dry somehow.)
Officiant: Your wedding rings are a symbol of your intentions toward one another. There are three of them to remind you that yourselves, each other, and your connection are all of importance to both of you. Let these rings always remind you both that you are choosing every day to be part of something you both care deeply about, understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. These rings symbolize a pledge to be curious, to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy.
You can each repeat after me, and place the rings on each other's hands as you do:
‘I am giving you this ring as a reminder of the ethics we are associating with our relationship — that we are committed to supporting and engineering what each of us wants, together and as individuals. We are architects.'
You may now kiss, if you want to. Congratulations.