In recent years, the Pride Commitment Ceremony was held in Piedmont Park on Saturday evening. This year, the celebration moves to a different day, the Thursday before Pride, and a new location, the W Midtown Atlanta Hotel.
Between 50-100 couples are expected to exchange vows at the nondenominational ceremony that will include an invitation for couples to attend Chris Coleman’s Indulge party in the hotel after the event.
“The Commitment Ceremony has a long history of changing and morphing. For a long time it was on Saturday in the park. Then it was on Fridays at Magnolia Hall, and it’s been at the Sheraton Colony Square,” said James Sheffield, executive director of Atlanta Pride.
This year it moves back to a familiar location — the W Atlanta Hotel, where the Sheraton Colony Square was once located.
“We feel like the event has gotten big enough to be an anchor for Pride week,” Sheffield said.
This year marks the third year Macy’s is the sponsor of the Commitment Ceremony, which includes clergy members from different places of worship.
“The goal is to make it as inclusive as possible and for a variety of backgrounds,” Sheffield said.
The Commitment Ceremony was moved to Thursday, Oct. 6, because this year Pride Saturday falls on Yom Kippur. Rabbi Josh Lesser of the gay-founded Congregation Bet Haverim has presided over the Commitment Ceremony with other clergy in the past, but won’t be able to participate this year even with the different date due to pastoral duties during the High Holy Days.
Atlanta Pride has asked members of Congregation Bet Haverim and the Rainbow Center, a Jewish LGBT nonprofit, to offer readings at the event. Other non-Christian clergy will also be present and people from various faiths will do readings as well.
“Anybody who wants to participate can do it for free, but if they want a certificate with their partner’s name on it and signed by the officiants, there is a $25 fee (or $35 paid at the event),” said Sheffield.
Couples come decked out in everything from wedding gowns and tuxes to shorts and t-shirts. Some bring family and friends to witness the moment, while others simply enjoy the intimacy with just each other.
“It’s really a kind of ‘aw, shucks,’ moment,” Sheffield says.
The ceremony coincides with the Indulge party by Chris Coleman held every Thursday at the hotel.
“When people finish with the ceremony they can go right upstairs to Whiskey Park where there will be drink specials and DJs spinning,” said Sheffield. “We’ve never had a party after the Commitment Ceremony before and it should be a fun addition to the event.”
Top Photo: 2010 Atlanta Pride Commitment Ceremony (by Laura Douglas-Brown)