A collaring ceremony can be a symbolic gathering between two or more people and a group of friends to honor a commitment. It’s often compared to a wedding in that it involves a kind of jewelry and vows, except instead of a ring placed on the bride and groom’s finger, it’s a collar placed around the submissive’s neck.
Another difference between a wedding and a collaring is that a collaring ceremony does not have to have one male groom and one female bride. It can be a ceremony between any number of people in a relationship with any expression of gender. A collaring ceremony is also usually somewhat kinkier, since it’s used most often by those in the BDSM lifestyle.
Collaring ceremonies are not nearly as bound by tradition as weddings are. Each collaring is unique to the people taking part and can be completely different those that have come before it. Those planning the ceremonies are free to shape their ceremony into whatever they want.
But to some ceremony planners, all that freedom without any set guidelines can be daunting. There’s an overwhelming amount of ideas for weddings, but the information available for how to plan a collaring ceremony is much more limited. Where do you start? Here are some things to keep in mind while planning:
The Mood & Theme
Nature, fairies, Star Wars, Happy Potter, steam punk, Mad Max, traditional wedding – any of these would make for a memorable party. Want the mood darker, kinkier? Leather, dungeons, whips and chains would make for some appropriately inappropriate decor.
And no matter what the mood or theme, no ceremony would be complete without music and candles. Make a playlist of songs that are meaningful to your relationship, and light a few candles in a color that compliments the other decorations.
Who do you want to be the witnesses of your ceremony? Do you want to be surrounded by friends and family? Supported by members of your close community in the lifestyle? Or keep it very private - an intimate date only between the people who are exchanging the vows? Having the ceremony be between just those exchanging vows can be just as meaningful as a large gathering.
Be sure to send out invitations! Save the trees and keep it green by sending customized evites from sites like Punchbowl.com. For something you can hold and keep, print invitations on anything from paper, to metal, photos, cloth, even glass at a handmade invitation design studio like Karenbartolomei.com/. (Because who wouldn’t want to see a BDSM-themed pop-up invitation?)
Having a ceremony at home is a big win for those looking for something intimate and low budget, especially if they have a dedicated room for the lifestyle. A yard or garden for an outdoor celebration is another popular location for ceremonies where being together in nature is a must – weather permitting.
If you have it at a public to semi-public location, make sure to check with the location’s policies well beforehand. Discuss your options and plans with the location or event manager. Being honest about what you’re looking for in the ceremony or ritual will allow them to bring your plans to fruition. Don’t be too shy when discussing your ceremony with them.
Some locations might have specific areas or times of the day that they’ll be more open to public displays of alternative lifestyles. Even the more lifestyle-friendly venues might have policies regarding BDSM and nudity. If you’re serving alcohol or if children will be present, discuss this with the event or location managers well beforehand, and get their answers and policies in writing if possible.
The real centerpiece of a wedding ceremony is the ring – so the collar is the most important part of the collaring ceremony. Which one is right for your relationship?
Despite what they’re used to wearing for play or out in public, for a collaring ceremony most people want a new collar that symbolizes their eternal devotion. They typically want one that can be worn day or night, in public or at play, that works well in vanilla setting or lifestyle parties, just like a wedding ring. If the submissive already has a collar, sometimes a simple upgrade is needed to a newer design or finish.
Or course, not all collaring ceremonies necessarily need a collar or necklace. Locking bracelet cuffs or anklets are perfect for many relationship types.
An engraved pendant is a great compliment to a locking collar. Ceremony or anniversary dates are popular engravings, as well as affectionate pet names.
What are you wearing to your ceremony? What would make both the Dom and the sub feel beautiful and connected? You don’t need to be constrained by black tuxes and white dresses – though if that’s what you’re looking for, by all means, go for it.
Keep the theme of the collaring ceremony in mind. Some ceremonies call for costumes; Robes are great for a Druidic ritual feeling, for instance. BDSM-wear, leather, or latex befits many a fine kinky ceremony. And hey, nudity works great for many folks. The Dom, sub, both, or everybody at the ceremony can be sky clad if that’s what suits the nature of the party.
The officiant has a place of honor. They’re the MC of the whole party. You can ask a friend or someone in the lifestyle to lead the ceremony.
Some ceremonies only require the Dominant to do all the speaking, so an outside officiant isn’t necessary. In certain cases where the sub or subs are not speaking, an assistant can speak on behalf of the sub.
This is the case in the ceremony between Ms Siren and boy john, where they use an assistant to speak for boy john and Ms Siren leads the vows instead of an officiant.
Writing vows can be one of the harder, more personal tasks of any ceremony. These vows can be highly structured, full of high-minded speech and quotes. OffbeatBride.com offers “My Vanilla, Polyamorous collaring ceremony,” complete with Bible quotes and vows between the Dominant and the submissive.
The vows could be simpler; a short speech where the Dom commits to protect and own the sub, and the sub promises to obey and be owned by their master. Though it’s riskier since it involves being put on the spot, but if they both have a knack for improv they could also just speak from the heart with nothing made up beforehand.
The words might even be something written and signed together, like a contract. Contracts are desirable for some in the lifestyle because the provide written guidelines for all parties involved. Though some are not legally binding, it adds to the permanence for some relationships and clarifies grey areas. Collaredgirls.com discusses the importance of a contract within a 24/7 BDSM relationship. If you're interested in a more general BDSM contract, try the DominantGuide.com.
Whatever contract you use, be sure to go over the terms with everyone involved well before the ceremony to make sure all parties agree and have time to discuss edits.
The ritual is the procession of the ceremony from beginning to end. It can reflect you as a couple often at the same level of ritual as you have in your relationship.
It could be simple, such as just placing the collar on the neck, locking it, and exchanging a few words. Or it could be highly structured and ceremonious, like this detailed breakdown of a collaring by DominantGuide.com: “Take bowl from slave and give slave goblet with lit votive candle in it, take incense stick or smudge stick and light it on the candle, take large feather and direct the smoke toward the slave, make sure to start at the feet and work your way up the body, try and cover all parts of the body with the smoke.”
This is your time to sit back and enjoy the party! It could just the those involved in the ceremony sitting back with a glass of wine to enjoy each other’s company. The reception could be a play party full of BDSM and kinky fun time (this is another time where checking with the location’s policies become very important). Or it could be leaving the ceremony altogether and going out to a bar or restaurant.
No matter what you theme is or how many guests are there, collaring ceremonies are only about the people collaring and those being collared. The most important thing to plan for is that at the end of the day they feel content and connected to each other.