Same-sex engagements: how to plan the perfect proposal for 2021

Unfortunately, this guest blog disappeared recently. We thought it deserved another chance!

Are you in a deeply committed same-sex relationship? In this article, Jack Jahan from Ramsdens Jewellery shares his tips for pulling off the perfect marriage proposal for 2021.

Covid-19 has caused havoc for everyone, including people in love. In fact, one survey by Hitched found that almost three quarters of wedding dates in 2020 had to be postponed due to the pandemic. However, the virus has also put things into perspective for many of us — including who we want to spend the rest of our lives with. So, it’s no surprise that proposals are on the rise despite the disruption to wedding plans.

If you’re in a same-sex relationship and you’re thinking about popping the question, you might be wondering how to make it as unique and special as possible. Below, I’ll share my tips for planning the perfect proposal for your other half in 2021.

Make decisions together

The lack of ‘traditional’ gender roles can be both a blessing and a curse for same-sex couples. On one hand, you’re not pigeon-holed into your own areas of responsibility and it’s easier to write your own rules for your relationship, including your proposal. On the other hand, it can all get a bit confusing if you don’t know who’s expecting what, and you may have different ideas about what the perfect proposal entails.

If you feel like it’s time to take your relationship to the next level, communication is key. There’s a very real chance your partner is thinking the same thing, and by discussing tactics such as who would like to be the one to propose and who would prefer to be proposed to, you can prevent spoiling any surprises or best laid plans your partner may already have in motion.

Choose the perfect rings for your relationship

If you’re buying an engagement ring for your partner as a surprise, you’ll need to take things like their taste in jewellery into account. Do they prefer gold or silver jewellery? Plain or fancy? If nothing immediately springs to mind, try sneaking a peek at their jewellery collection. Alternatively, you could pretend you’re treating yourself to some jewellery and ask for their opinion.

Alternatively, some people may prefer to receive a luxury watch rather than a ring. These are valuable, high quality items that can be cherished for a very long time, and as they are acutely detailed, it’s also a great way to show your understanding of your partner’s taste. Plus, the symbolism of a watch with connotations of time (spent together in your relationship) means they can make an incredibly sentimental gift too. So, they’re a great proposal gift to consider if an engagement ring isn’t right for you.

Celebrate safely

In previous years, it may have been part of your plan to propose on a luxurious holiday, in a romantic restaurant, or surrounded by family and friends. In 2021, we don’t know if you’ll have the same options, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Try ordering in your partner’s favourite meal and creating an intimate table setting at home, or you could even contact your partner’s loved ones to arrange a video call. Everyone loves to tell the story of how they got engaged, and thoughtful touches like these can provide your partner with a great tale to tell for years to come.

These tips can help same-sex couples plan the perfect proposal for 2021. Bear them in mind and you’re sure to cherish the memory of your engagement for the rest of your lives.

How to become a Civil Celebrant without trying

How to become a Civil Celebrant without trying

A lot of people ask me how I got into this profession. Most of them hadn’t heard of a civil celebrant before meeting me. In truth, I hadn’t heard the name either up until about six years ago.

So I had certainly never intended to become a civil celebrant!

Fate moves in mysterious ways.

Actually, if it hadn’t been for 400 prostitutes, I would never have known about the profession!

You may be feeling confused at this stage. But don’t get me wrong, please. Although I am still an active man, swimming is my main sporting activity!

So what’s this got to do with the prostitutes?

I had gone to a networking meeting, which featured a speaker. I didn’t know the title, which involved “400 prostitutes”. I just turned up. Well, I might have known the title, but had always planned to attend, you understand …!

Apparently, the speaker had considerable experience with prostitutes. He had made a fortune many years back by selling answering machines to a niche market nobody had tapped before: prostitutes!

After the presentation, I had a chat with him. It was an innocent chat, by the way! It turned out that he was a celebrant.

He told me that he helped people who wanted a ceremony that was bespoke – not formulaic. He worked with them to construct a ceremony that would mean the most to them (and, hopefully, their guests). It could be religious, semi-religious, non-religious – anything. It could be held anywhere – perhaps a licensed religious building, a hotel, a beach or a mountain top.

The ceremonies would be religious, or not, or partly so. They ranged from weddings, same-sex, vow renewals, baby-naming to handfastings. [No, I didn’t know what handfastings were at the time, either!]

Anyway, as I listened, I got drawn in. This was something different, this was exciting, this was something I could do well. I do engage with individuals – I listen well, write well and present well – the three major skills required! Here was something that would enable me to make a difference to others.

When could I start?!

Well, I trained late in 2012, and was sufficiently enthused that I then trained to become a funeral celebrant.  Since then, I have conducted well over 100 ceremonies of different kinds – even one in Cyprus!

Who’d have thought that 400 prostitutes would have made such a difference in my life!


Same-Sex ceremonies

Are same-sex ceremonies actually so different from heterosexual ones?

They share the same obstacles and challenges – and rewards.

You may relish the process of preparing for your big day – or you may struggle with it. With the right preparations – however you may be celebrating it – your big day should be a delight, bursting with love, benevolence and happiness.

Sure, there are a few differences of detail, but the principles are the same or similar.

So let’s talk about weddings.



  • There can be nothing more challenging than your family! If they oppose your marriage, you can be in deep water, especially if they try to pressurise you.
  • Choosing and obtaining the right suppliers is important, but can be difficult.
  • Sorting out the invitations and venue can also be an interesting task!


Let’s take a look at these, and see how we can deal with them.


It may be that your family refuse to accept or recognise your partner. If you are closely attached to your family (they may even be paying for your wedding!), you may not want to make waves.

However, it is not they who will be living with your partner, but you! The ceremony is about you, not them. The bottom line is that it is your wedding and your big day. It is unfair for them to impose their choices upon you. Especially, for such an important event.

Of course, you should invite them to meet and get to know your partner, preferably informally. If the charm offensive doesn’t work, then think about asking your officiant to have a word. If it’s a religious ceremony, and your priest is already well-known to the family, then he may well start from a position of respect and can help smooth over the problems.

The ceremony itself may prove a sticking-point. You may not be allowed a religious service in a church, say.  However, all is not lost because a civil celebrant can conduct a religious service all the same. Or a part-religious one. Or, indeed, a non-religious one. And because a civil ceremony is not formally structured, you can have your choice of participants, as well as readings, rituals and music.

You may be able to explain to, or show, the disapproving relative(s) that the service will in fact be spiritual, memorable and delightful. Better still, you may be able to invite them to read something (even of their choice!) at the event. That way, you can show how much you value them.


There’s nothing out of the ordinary to be said here, as  your sexual orientation shouldn’t enter into it. You are likely to need catering, photography, flowers, a celebrant, a cake, maybe a limousine, entertainment (a magician, a DJ, a photo-booth etc.). There have been some recent, notorious cases of suppliers refusing to serve same-sex couples, but you can only feel pity for such intolerant people. Move on. There are plenty of others who will serve you excellently.

You need to take your time and do your research. Recommendation, websites, personal visits are all better than taking pot luck with Google. I have more advice on this subject in a blog:


I have also written on this topic (please see, but here too you need to get in early, do your research and ensure, if possible, that you visit. The visit will allow you to get a feel for the atmosphere of the place. Crucially, you’ll be able to ask the event co-ordinator questions.

The jury is out on this one, but it may be worth checking that the venue has no problems with gay ceremonies.

The guests

The guest-list and (potential) table-plan is almost always a sticky issue for any wedding. Your budget must be adhered to and, most importantly, you and your partner must be in harmony over this. Ideally, so will your families (especially if they are bankrolling the event!). You may need to be very diplomatic …


So, in general, a same-sex and a heterosexual ceremony will differ very little. The officiant will need to check  with the couple about the terms he/she will be using. Will it be “bride and bride” or “groom and groom”, and will the couple at the end be announced as “Mr & Mr X” or “Mrs and Mrs Y”? The wording of some of the readings may have to be changed, but, otherwise, a same-sex ceremony is basically the same as a heterosexual one.

Absolutely nobody needs to be put off from arranging a same-sex ceremony!


Personal Wedding Vows

I bet you’ve heard these wedding vows before – at a wedding, real or televised:

“I, X, take thee, Y, to be my lawful, wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. This is my solemn vow.”

This traditional text covers the ground well, wouldn’t you agree?

It’s quite easy to affirm vows that someone else has written (and that’s not meant as a criticism – it’s a fact of life). It will certainly be a challenge to improve on them.

However, for such a solemn and significant moment, wouldn’t it mean so much more if you came out with something unique, something that you yourself had written?

Well, of course, there are pros and cons to consider.


Reasons to think twice

  • You may not see the point of trying to improve on something already good.
  • You may be far from being the greatest writer in the world.
  • You may dread public speaking, not least at an occasion as massive as this.
  • Saying lovey-dovey things is hard enough face-to-face, let alone in public!


Reasons to embrace the idea

  • The important thing to realise is that, by writing and reciting your own vows, you are acknowledging the step you are both taking, and showing that you are not trivialising your relationship.
  • The mere effort involved in writing your vows and in reading them out publicly shows and confirms your commitment.
  • It is also something your guests will love and appreciate – and so, indeed, might your partner!


How you can achieve this

There’s nothing to stop you receiving help when you write your vows. You can use (or, preferably, adapt) somebody else’s vows (whether from true-life or fiction). You may bounce a few ideas off a more literary-minded friend or relative. You can also practise reading your vows to them and gain from constructive criticism.

When you read your vows on the day, try and make at least occasional eye contact with your partner (and you should direct your vows to him/her anyway). Control your nerves, if you are able, and ensure you read slowly and clearly (people will really want to hear what you are saying).


One example

This is what one partner wrote (with minimal editing on my part!) for a lovely same-sex wedding that I conducted:

“I am truly and utterly blessed to have found you, my love. You show me love that exceeds my expectations and grows daily even on what we might call a bad day.

“So from this day on:

“I promise to always give you my all in every way,

“I ask you to accept my flaws, as I know I’m not perfect.

“I promise to be patient, respectful and caring.

“I promise to be your partner in everything, even in crime.

“I promise to be faithful, honest and mindful of your heart.

“I promise to always be myself the woman you fell in love with

“And with that I take you, XY, as my wife and my equal.”

There could be any number of criticisms you could level at this piece of work. Should this bride be offering to be a partner “even in crime”? The piece does not rank as “high literature” and the syntax is not that great.

But if you’re looking for sincerity, it hits the nail right on the head! This bride has clearly done much thinking and is clear in her mind what she will bring to the marriage table. She is more than willing to affirm publicly what she will do to make the marriage work, and, simply and clearly – and rather charmingly – has done so.

You can even include a bit of humour (“I promise to catch and remove all garden spiders that come into our home.”), but only do this, if you are reasonably sure you can carry it off.

So don’t be afraid of going for something that is hard work (attainable, but hard work). Public speaking can be wonderful (with the right support – and your celebrant will be able to help you). The results will be so worthwhile – master your self-doubt and nerves, and you will be amazed at the difference your personal vows will make.

And, don’t forget, when your partner has returned the favour, you will always have those vows to throw back at him/her , if he/she happens to show signs of sliding! A powerful weapon!