Commitment Ceremonies 101
September 22, 2011 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Commitment ceremonies: how do you do them? Particularly - how do you explain the idea to family?

My partner and I have been together for just over five years, with the relationship being open (I'm queer and occasionally see other women; he's working on seeing other women too) for the last two. It's been working great so far and we're in it for the long haul.

Recently we've been talking about having some sort of party or ceremony to recognise the journey we've been on, the deep love and companionship we hold for each other, and to celebrate that with the people we care for the most. (Personally I feel that people make an effort to show up to weddings rather than other social events!) However, the idea of marriage/a wedding gives us the heebee-jeebees. His parents are divorced, which has tainted the idea of marriage for him; I find issues with the assumption of exclusive commitment.

We thought about possibly having a commitment ceremony - essentially like a wedding, but without the legal marriage paperwork. While we both like the idea, we're stuck on how to explain it to our families (really, mine, since they're from a more traditional Asian culture; his is pretty liberal). I tried to ask my aunt about it as a test and she replied "How do you have a wedding without the registration? That's not a wedding!"

We live in an area that has de facto laws, so technically we don't even really need to legally marry to get most benefits since we're de facto already. Trying to explain that to said aunt was a little confusing though; she was wondering about how I wouldn't be so sure that he wouldn't cheat on me or run away with the house and all that. (I'm very sure he wouldn't!) And to be honest we're still a little confused ourselves, especially as it relates to visas (I'm applying for Permanent Residency and we were wondering whether a visa based on marriage makes it easier since my app's been in limbo for yonks).

People love him, my family adore him and keep asking when we'll get married, if we did get married we'd probably get "ABOUT TIME" as a response. Yet I don't really want to have to stand in front of my family and go "the reason we're not exclusive is because I am a lesbian whose love of my life happens to be a man, and we've both found that you can be dedicated and committed to each other without needing to limit the sex to each other. Oops, TMI!" I want the celebration, I want my loved ones to be there with us, I want the recognition and validation - I just don't want the hassle.

Have you made it work? How did you get around traditional/conservative ideas of relationships? How do you deal with possibly disappointing your father because he's not going to "give you away", or with confusing everyone because there's no paper to sign? Is there a way to keep everyone happy?

(I feel quite a few people would say "just do what you want to do, screw family"; however, for me, commitment ceremonies of any kind have always had family as a major factor - a blending of families and cultures, in our case. I would like to respect them while also keeping true to ourselves.)
posted by divabat to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(just idly - do you need to tell your family that you sometimes see other people? When I've been in a see-other-people situation, only my friends know. What about just saying that you want a commitment ceremony rather than a wedding because it's right for you? You'll probably get all kinds of pushback; I often blame my actions on my friends and social circle - "that's just what we crazy kids do now!")
posted by Frowner at 9:26 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Aren't Wiccan handfasting ceremonies based on the concept of committing for "a year and a day" -- at which time you reevaluate and repledge? (Apologies if I'm mixing it all up; I'm not very familiar with it.) It may not be a tradition you follow yourself, but it's a concept that sounds somewhat applicable to your situation.
posted by Madamina at 9:26 AM on September 22, 2011

Frowner: I probably don't need to be that explicit, but I do need an answer for "why not register a marriage?". I get enough annoying questions as it is! If I could figure out a good way to explain what "de facto" meant without confusing everyone that could help. ("we're legal already! now the party!")
posted by divabat at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2011

We did the legal part of our marriage at the courthouse with no family, and the spiritual/family/community/celebration part with guests and witnesses, a la traditional wedding. Both of us felt that the part that makes our union "real" is our commitment to each other, and sharing that commitment and asking for the support of our loved ones. We did the legal part as well because we wanted the legal benefits of marriage, but in my mind those things are not what makes our marriage real. I think in an ideal world, every couple who wants to could have a civil union, with all its benefits, and the parts of marriage that are about family, community, and/or spirituality would take place separate from anything governmental. (end tangent)

We put a note in the printed event program to explain our reasons for keeping the two separate, but practically no one even noticed that nothing legal happened at our ceremony. Why not just have your commitment ceremony, let people call it a wedding if they want to (call it a wedding if YOU want to!) and keep calling each other "partner"?

Seconding that your sex lives are none of anyone else's business.
posted by TrixieRamble at 9:45 AM on September 22, 2011

"We live in a state that just assumes you're married after X years and gives you all the nifty benefits that go along with being legal. And guess what? The Mister and I have been together for X years! Woo! So we're already legal! Let's party!"
posted by functionequalsform at 9:46 AM on September 22, 2011

Call it a five year anniversary party? And if you do a short ceremony with personalized vows without a legal officiant, it'd be renewing the your commitment with your family there to celebrate, maybe that'd be easier for those with more traditional views to accept.
posted by lemniskate at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2011

There is no actual way to answer "why not register a marriage" because the government does not really care whether you're monogamous (at least not here in the US).

The government cares whether you want to be married in a legal sense. If so, they will give you a certificate. They do not police your bedroom or your heart.

If you are ethically opposed to lying to the government, that is fine, but you are probably not even lying to the government because they're probably not asking.

If you feel like you are lying to your family, well, I am a big fan of lying to family about things that they don't want to know about and that generally don't concern them. If you plan to be closeted to your family anyway, what's the difference? You wouldn't be telling them at a commitment ceremony, you wouldn't be telling them at a wedding.

If this commitment ceremony is not a wedding because one or both of you doesn't believe in weddings, you can't expect people to treat it exactly like a wedding. You don't believe in weddings, then you don't believe in the perks, either. (This does not apply to people who are unable to be married due to bigotry.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:52 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure there is a way to get everyone to understand. Either you're having a wedding, which they understand, or you're not, which they will have questions about. You can't have something in between without confusing your family. Married is a binary state -- you are or you aren't. Marriage is whatever you and your partner define it to be.

My husband and I had a tiny private wedding. In and out in less than six minutes. Only parents and siblings present. (Yes, there was arguing with my mother-in-law about who was invited and why it wasn't in a church.) We had a reception a week later that everyone was invited to. That was our solution for all the inane wedding stuff that neither of us wanted to be anywhere near. And we were very happy with how everything turned out.
posted by katieinshoes at 10:05 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your profile says you're in Australia, so the laws are bound to be different than in the U.S., but - there is nothing that says you have to get married to have a wedding. My long-term partner and I got a civil union (in the U.S.) even though we are a hetero couple, and are "getting married" next year. Plan a wedding, explain to your officiant that you're actually just going to have a commitment ceremony but that it's hard to explain that to your families, and write a ceremony together that suits you both. You don't have to go into details with your families. No one sees the legal paperwork except you and the judge, anyway.

You might find some support at, they have a decently large Oceanian contingent who could offer you some good advice on how to pull this off, how to find an officiant, etc.

We explained to our parents that we chose this alternate route because it matched what was in our hearts - that marriage felt less meaningful to us because some of our (gay and lesbian) loved ones could not get married. We let them know that they didn't have to tell their respective families and friends that what we were doing wasn't technically a marriage, which was a huge relief to them. In the end, our parents just want us to be happy. Yours probably do too, you know? Get on with the wedding planning. One missing sheet of legal paper isn't going to change things one way or the other. Congratulations!
posted by juniperesque at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2011

I've never been to a wedding where the paperwork was signed in front of the wedding attendees (well, except the one I was in in Canada, but that's a longer story). I was just at a lesbian wedding (actual legal marriage thing) in Massachusetts and there was no public paper-signing. It looked exactly like a commitment ceremony.

Regarding your visa issue - I'd really talk to a lawyer before you decide whether to Officially Marry or Officially Commit. If getting Actually Married were to help in clearing up your status and hurry things along (I'm assuming he's a citizen), then would you both still have heebie-jeebies about it? Consider that the nature of marriage is essentially bureaucratic.

Anyway, what others have said: if you have a wedding, there's a lot of stuff you won't have to explain to any family members because everyone knows what "wedding" means. If you go another route, you will have some explaining to do.

And just because it's a commitment ceremony doesn't mean your dad can't walk you down the aisle, or you can't register for gifts, etc. You can be as traditional as you like with a commitment ceremony; likewise, you can have a official wedding with paperwork and all and not do any of the traditional stuff.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on September 22, 2011

"We're having a ceremony that celebrates us being together. We'd be so glad if you could come."

"Well, why just just marry each other?"

"This is something we talked about a lot and this is what we chose. We'd be so glad if you could be there to celebrate our love."

That's it.
posted by inturnaround at 10:14 AM on September 22, 2011

Juniperesque and inturnaround have good advice.

I suspect, but do not know, that being married would indeed make it easier to get your visa. Talk to an immigration lawyer. You might also want to make sure you're aware of the differences between common law and government registered marriage where you're from, so you know what you'll be foregoing.

You may want to examine the framework you're using to view this - that marriage represents only a specific set of values, and cannot be re-imagined any other way.

Marriage as a concept says nothing about requiring monogamy, and I urge you strongly not to mix your own personal sex lives into the list of reasons you present to family who ask "why not a wedding?"

Your own commitment vows are what you make of them and can include or not include whatever you feel comfortable with. That being said, I think what happens in your bedroom is your own business - unless you want to suddenly be dealing with a lot more drama about your life choices.

Likewise, sadly, being married or not will not protect your relationship from heartbreak.

Marry or don't marry, but make sure you're making the decision on the basis of the facts of the matter, and not just a surprisingly traditionalist view of what marriage is supposed to be.
posted by canine epigram at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2011

Marry or don't marry, but make sure you're making the decision on the basis of the facts of the matter, and not just a surprisingly traditionalist view of what marriage is supposed to be.

This is exactly what I wanted to say, combined with inturnaround's answer.

I hope I didn't sound like too much of a downer, but the reality is that most of what you're saying doesn't come across as particularly logical, especially from my point of view (a non-monogamous, legally married person).

Expect your relatives to be old-fashioned and to worry about you, because they are older and they want you to be safe and happy. For them, that means marriage, but showing them that you are secure, confident, and happy with your decision will go a long way towards reassuring them that you're not making excuses for your partner, and that you really will be happy and okay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:27 AM on September 22, 2011

Pros of marriage: your relatives will understand it (they don't want to know about/won't understand queer non-monogamy and what they don't know won't hurt them), legal benefits, potentially speeds up your visa

Cons of marriage: it gives you and your partner the heebie-jeebies.

Not to be all "it's a piece of paper", but it really is. It doesn't need to change how you and your partner think of each other or live your lives together.
posted by crankylex at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you have your reasons to oppose marriage qua marriage, but I don't know if I understand them.

You want a commitment ceremony, you have most of the legal perks but not, say, the VISA, you have the perfect life partner, why not get married? Marriage doesn't mean monogamy, it doesn't mean heterosexuality, it doesn't mean tradition, it doesn't mean a white dress, a registry, a wedding party, or any of those trivialities. It's a commitment ceremony that the state recognizes as such.

All the commitment you promise your partner, you can promise in a marriage ceremony. All the crap you don't want to consider, you can ignore in a marriage ceremony. You're not lying by omission, you can write your own vows to say exactly what you want them to say.

I only say this because I'm also queer, also planning a wedding to a man, though we're not in an open relationship. But, again, who knows, we're not swearing to never have an open relationship, we're affirming that we love each other and plan to do so for a very, very long time.
posted by lydhre at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with the other responses pointing out that you don't have to be monogamous to be married, so it doesn't make that much sense for that to be the reason you don't want to get married. You don't want to get married because you don't want to get married - that's fine, and that's the reason you can tell people. You could tell people you're not getting legally married because you're opposed to government intrusion in people's private relationships, or that marriage has such a sexist history that you refuse to participate in it, or that it's wrong to get married when many queer couples can't marry, or that you're a free spirit who can't be tied down by the man.
posted by medusa at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2011

My best friend and her partner had a commitment ceremony a few years ago and explicitly decided not to get legally married. (They both changed their last names in practice as well, though I don't think either of them paid to do it legally yet.) Their event was a long weekend away for everyone who wanted to come out and stay at their venue - a farm in Northern CA - with a day-long celebration for anyone who just wanted to come in for the ceremony.

Their concept was based on Quaker wedding ceremonies, similar but not exactly as described here. There was no minister. The two of them just sat in the center of a circle of all of their loved ones, and Quaker-meeting style, everyone sat in silence unless they were moved to speak and address the crowd to give them their blessing or share a memory. Everyone spoke, everyone cried. When my friends each spoke, it was both an exchange of vows and a public declaration.

Neither of their families are Quaker or knew what to expect. Because there was so much logistical planning to get the weekend together, I think everyone showed up knowing not to expect a wedding. However, during a fantastic meal before the ceremony, we placed a single typed page at every seat explaining what it would look like and why they chose to commit themselves this way.

It was totally beautiful.

That said: considering the stress, planning, clothes, catering, registering, and chaos leading up to this event, I am personally hard-pressed to say it wasn't a wedding. It sure felt like one. I mean that in a mostly good way: this was a big event and I don't think they would change a thing. But, for instance, my friends didn't want to register and almost every single one of their guests protested until they did. This was a big reminder that these kinds of social engagements come along with obligations that you don't always foresee and are maybe even trying to avoid.

If you'd like to see the note they wrote their guests to explain the ceremony, I can memail it to you.
posted by juliplease at 11:59 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with juniperesque. There's no reason you have to explain about the paperwork because no one is going to know the difference. You will only get the confused reactions from family and friends if you try to explain it to them, no one is going to spontaneously ask you "are you registering your marriage?" right?

Just have your party and let people understand it as a wedding, because regardless of what you call it, people are going to assume that you're pledging an exclusive commitment to each other, and there's very little you can do to change that other than give them TMI about your sexual preferences and intimate details of your relationship.

Maybe those of us in the United States are confused by the question because of cultural differences, but in the United States, you sign the papers in private either before or after the ceremony and no one ever knows the difference. Do other people need to know about the papers/registration in Aus?

I haven't dealt with this situation personally, but our American Miss Manners sometimes suggests turning awkward questions around on other people in a polite way so that they are put on the spot instead of you, i.e.
"Why aren't you calling this a marriage?"
"How would it make a difference to our relationship or to you if we did?"
(to pull this off you should try to ask the question with a calm, genuinely curious demeanor)

"Why aren't you doing X traditional thing as a part of this ceremony?"
"If we don't do X, does that diminish the value of our commitment to each other?"

it's hard to imagine people being able to give any answers to these questions aside from "um, I dunno, because that's how we usually do it." At which point you're in a strong position to blow them off with a comment like "Oh, well, that's OK, we aren't really the types to do things exactly the way everyone else does anyhow."
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:40 PM on September 22, 2011

Marriage is whatever it means to you. No two are alike. Feel free to make up your own definition.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:49 PM on September 22, 2011

Actually, I disagree with treehorn+bunny that 'nobody will ask about the paperwork'. Given your visa troubles, I expect that pretty much everyone you know will say 'omg that's great! So is that going to make it easier for you to get a job/PR/etc?'. In particular, I would expect your parents and family to ask about this aspect. And if you tell them "no it won't, because we don't want to get that kind of married" then you should be prepared for a lot of bewilderment, and probably reduced sympathy for any future immigration hassles (such as "well if you'd gotten properly married you wouldn't be having this problem!").

A legal marriage may well be an emotionally irrelevant piece of paper, but so is a permanent residency. It seems almost wilfully masochistic to try and figure out a way to avoid the first one when you are trying so hard to get the second one, and marriage would probably make it easier to get. It's possible it wouldn't, in which case none of this applies because you can just tell people that getting married doesn't affect your status because 'x', and not bother explaining that you aren't legally married anyway.
posted by jacalata at 5:38 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm in Canada where marriage can be legal or common-law (de facto in your parlance) between any two people (and anti-polygamy laws are expected to be challenged for the next few years. After my second date with my boyfriend I signed the papers to make him my common-law husband for health care reasons. So although I understand the argument "we are JUST like legally married" (because the legal protections are the same) I do think it is fair for older people to still think marriage is more "proper". And although I have no problems with my friends that either chose to quietly move into a common-law marriage or get legally married in any form from a city hall ceremony to High Church, the people that chose the middle ground, having a non-legally binding commitment ceremony, that never lasted. I don't know if it was because they had hoped for public validation that never came, the fact that ALL of them overshared how THEIR love was bigger than a normal legal marriage could possibly hold, or what, but all those "committed" relationships have ended in in all of them at least one part of the couple later legally married someone else.

Yes, that is just anecdote, but maybe it will help you understand how your family may look at this as "playing house" because you aren't mature enough for a "real" marriage. Marriage means a commitment, not necessarily monogamy (you seriously have no idea how many married people have been flexible about monogamy and orientations) and trying to convince anyone with a bit of life experience that no, YOUR love is DIFFERENT from all the other plebes that bought into the patriarchy and got married.

Sorry if I Sound harsh, I really don't mean to be, but I think this is one where you have to shit or get of the pot. Either get legally married or live together without the public validation from your family.
posted by saucysault at 7:09 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

After my second date with my boyfriend I signed the papers to make him my common-law husband for health care reasons.

We did something like that too. Second dates are wicked!

(In Canada).
posted by ovvl at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do need an answer for "why not register a marriage?"

"We believe in the freedom of declaring our relationship without the state/government/'The Man' involved with what should be shared with our friends/relatives/family/loved ones. I'm so happy you are here to share our special day!"

If it's going to make your residency paperwork easier, or if it would disrupt the process of getting it, it would make quite a lot of sense that you aren't getting married. If your relatives are concerned about financial risks to you, maybe you could talk about risks you'd be avoiding by not getting married -- maybe it's advantageous in some way, in the US if someone sues your spouse it can end up with you having a judgement against you. Or you could tell them that he'll have to stay on his best behavior since HE won't have that bit of paper.

If people are expecting to see a paper get signed at the ceremony, are you against declaring your commitment to each other on paper for some reason? Just print up something on some nice looking paper. I've never seen the papers get signed as part of a wedding ceremony, but families have their own customs.

If you don't want to go telling your family the reasons you aren't exclusive, just leave that bit out. It sounds like this is a commitment ceremony for two people, it's not as though you will have more people up there you need to explain. If you meet someone you want to introduce to your family, or have another commitment ceremony with, you can figure it out then. It'll be much easier to introduce them to a particular person instead of an abstract idea. Or, if you have no plans to introduce any of your lovers to your family, why are you even worried about this?

You can't really persuade people you are having a wedding instead of a commitment ceremony. It is what it is. If you call it a wedding, of course they will think you will file the paperwork and do all the other things they associate with weddings. And it's NOT the same as a wedding -- clearly, if they were equivalent, you wouldn't be eagerly planning one of them while having the heebee-jeebees about the other -- and that's why your family may never see this as a wedding equivalent, you had the choice open to you to marry and picked "heebee-jeebees, not that!"

Telling them you already have most benefits is just confusing people with extraneous information -- people don't go to weddings and congratulate the couple on being able to file their taxes jointly and have immunity from being forced to testify against each other in court.

Is there a way to keep everyone happy?

Hahahaha! No!
And it's the same answer for people having weddings.
posted by yohko at 7:23 PM on September 22, 2011

I would send invitations that outline what your party is about...
using your words from your AskMefi...

Lover A and Lover B
cordially invite you to join us
as we celebrate our deep love and companionship
with the people we care about the most


And if/when you get asked "why not marriage"
your response is simply--

"oh, that's just not us!"
posted by calgirl at 9:18 PM on September 22, 2011

So I see two things from your description:

1) Your partner and you already have a rough idea of what kind of ceremony you want,
2) You're essentially asking how you'd like to market this to your (extended) family
3) To your full credit, you also are clear to yourself why a traditional Asian-isque marriage isn't for you.
4) However, for cultural reasons, you still seem to be angling for at least some tradition anyway

The question I'd ask myself if I was in your situation is as follows: leaving the (Australian) legal aspects aside for the moment, what aspects of a traditional (Asian) marriage make you (not your partner, you) feel uncomfortable with? Based on the answer, you may want to include or drop aspects from a regular traditional marriage into yours. If anyone asks details, just blame it on your partner's family (I'm presuming there's a bit of cultural differences as well)

Also, there's this good ol' "Log kya kahenge?" ("manush ki bolbe" in Bangla, "What will people say?") question. My suggestion here is to come as clean as you can with elders you feel comfortable with, and get their help in thinking of how to market this to the rest of the tribe. Generational gaps in our part of the world are too huge to overcome without some additional firepower from "go-betweens"; the trick is to not tackle it full-on, but to gently tackle it from the side, as it were.
posted by the cydonian at 11:12 PM on September 22, 2011

the cydonian: OMG "manush ki bolbe" YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of exclusive commitment together forever the end amen. I've seen some relationships within my family that may have been better off ended, but they feel like they have to be stuck to each other. Also there's this assumption of total dependence - after my sister got married my dad cried & when I asked him why he said "well now who's going to take care of YOU?!". And he's telling this to someone who's fought tooth and nail to be independent. My partner and I have a healthy interdependence, we support each other how we can, but I'd rather not get subsumed into wifey material. We're equals, always have been. As for elders - hm. The one person I thought could be my go-between was my sister, who's usually pretty open and has gone through a lot of the marriage crap already (foreign partner, not wanting to do the religious ceremonies, MKB, etc) but she's since come up with some strange assumptions about my relationship and I'm not quite as confident. But we'll see.

jacalata: Unlike a marriage, there is no such thing as a "de facto permanent residency" that would give me nearly as much rights as a PR. If it wasn't for just putting the app in (I already have an application in under their General Skilled Migration program and it's been delayed so much that DIAC is recommending looking at other options in case) I wouldn't be able to be in Australia at all; as it is I'm having trouble finding jobs or next steps or anything. If there was such a way I wouldn't have bothered with the PR at all! (And no, it's not emotionally insignificant; if it was I wouldn't have lost so many tears over it.)

I'm talking to my partner right now about this (he's read this AskMefi). I'm more comfortable with the idea of marriage than he is, but he's being a lot less freaked out about it now that he's reading other perspectives of marriage being what you make of it. I personally still have qualms about how marriage is an assumption that you're sorted, that you've found The One and that's it, no more searching - when we've both still got a long way to go yet in life! (We're both in our 20s) What I want to do is honour the life we had and will have, have our families and friends take our partnership seriously enough to include us in each other's lives, reflect that while the future could change things drastically we've got something really amazing and we'd like to celebrate that with the people we care about.
posted by divabat at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2011

and trying to convince anyone with a bit of life experience that no, YOUR love is DIFFERENT from all the other plebes that bought into the patriarchy and got married.

oh God no. if anything I feel like taking on marriage is a bigger responsibility than I (at least, can't speak for the dude) can handle! I respect those that made the leap!
posted by divabat at 5:53 AM on September 23, 2011

Not to be argumentative, but you sound like you think of a commitment ceremony as less than marriage then, less of a commitment. So expecting other people to view it as an equivalent to marriage and validate your relationship seems a bit It is kinda like celebrating your third month of dating, significant to the two people involved and a milestone worthy of congratulations but not really something people outside the relationship would really take note of, except in passing.

If you guys are committed to each other, love each other and want public support for that, then legal marriage is the only way to go - especially because of your immigration issues. Sometimes you can compromise on things in relationships but just like you can't be a little bit pregnant when it comes to marriage either you are, or you aren't. Marriage is a commitment, ideally for life (but life can throw you curveballs!) and if you can't commit to that now then maybe you should wait. The best advice I got was that you only get married after you honestly truly feel you ARE already married - the vows are just a poor echo of the reality. That was certainly true in my case.

If your boyfriend doesn't want to get married now, or forever, that is fine and it is good that he knows what he wants. But you have to either accept that or move on if you want your family's validation of your relationship.
posted by saucysault at 6:13 AM on September 23, 2011

*Waves to divabat's partner!*

As you folks figure out all this committment jujitsu, here's something to contemplate: a Marriage ceremony distinct from "marriage". Indeed, in my previous response, I was trying to limit myself to an actual ceremony, not the institution of marriage itself.

So my point was this: take a much appreciated ceremony in your family as a basis -your sister's ceremony as an example but not necessarily so- what aspects would you like for yourself? And what aspects would your folks like? What aspects would make you or your partner uncomfortable? Mentally walkthrough a sample ceremony in your family, but with you both as the players. You'll readily know how to approach your sister (or anyone else), or even clarify to yourself whether you want to approach her in the first place.

Also note that sub-continental marriage ceremonies can become massive marathons, depending on families. You may potentially need lots of stamina for this.

As for whether marriage per se is for you, thats an entirely different question altogether; tried not commenting about it much aince you werent asking about it. :) But since the topic has been breached: obviously, that's something you have to answer for yourself obviously.

My only suggestion is to not delude yourself into accepting something that isnt; then again, both of you seem to be quite aware of this. However, you can be sure that the family pressure won't stop with a commitment ceremony, no matter how lightly you design it; I've had my own MKB-non-desi marriage for six months, and already both sets of families have been putting pressure on getting a house, kids and so on.

The question, then, isn't what you will answer if people ask about your Aussie visa; it'll be about what you will say when, say, your aunt starts dropping passive-aggressive hints on kids and 'settling down' about three months after your ceremony. How ready are you for that kind of interest in your relationship? How would you answer that?

Essentially, don't kid yourself by presuming any of this will stop with any ceremony. If any, it'll increase. :) Thats how it works in Asia; globalization or not, the entire tribe will try and raise your kid, so to speak.
posted by the cydonian at 8:05 AM on September 24, 2011

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