Commitment BDSM style: My vanilla, polyamorous, collaring ceremony

January 18 | Guest post by Drgnsyr

Many of you have written to us, wanting more inspiration for BDSM and/or polyamorous wedding ceremonies. Well, here's a collaring ceremony that combines both!

Our collar and cuff by Mockingbird Lane Creations.
Our collar and cuff by Mockingbird Lane Creations.

This is sort of a collaring ceremony as a wedding. It will also be a polyamorous focused ceremony (with our spouses giving us away — in a manner of speaking). So, this is the draft for my vanilla, polyamorous, collaring ceremony…

Exodus 21:5 "But if the slave declares 'I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free' his master shall take him before G-d. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life."

Dominant: Today we are here to formalize our commitment to each other, but in doing so we must acknowledge its place amongst the other commitments of our lives. I am asking you to commit yourself to me and make me one of the highest priorities in your life, but your children and your marriage must always come first. Do you accept these terms?

submissive: I accept.

Dominant: And I am promising you that I am committing myself to you and making you one of the highest priorities in my life, second only to my children and my marriage. Do you accept this promise?

submissive: I accept.

Genesis 16:7 An Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur, and said, "Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said "I am running away from my mistress, Sarai." And the angel of the Lord said to her "Go back to your mistress and submit to her domination."

Dominant: Today I offer you a collar and with it my love. I will [insert vows here].
In return I ask that you [insert requests here] Do you accept my collar?

submissive: I accept.

submissive: Today I offer you the key and with it my loyalty. I will [insert vows here] In return I ask that you [insert requests here] Do you accept my key?

Dominant: I accept.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Dominant: In binding ourselves to each other, we recognize that we are not merely making a commitment between two individuals. Each of us have families of our own and, as we intertwine our lives, so too do we intertwine theirs. In recognition of this, we now invite our spouses to speak.

[His wife reads something or gives a toast.] [My husband reads something or gives a toast.]

Dominant: Talmudic law requires that any legal contract or act of acquisition be concluded through an act of kinyan. For the acquisition of a person, the deal may be sealed by having the individual perform chazakah — an act of service for their new master. Let us now seal this contract.

[He carries me into the building]

  1. So beautiful and so inspiring. May the happiness you share now continue throughout your lives.

    10 agree
  2. Wow, this is really awesome! There is definitely a lot of thought in it, and it's really neat to see a post like this! Moar! (this is coming from someone who does not personally know any polygamists and keeps having to strain to remember what BDSM stands for…)

    26 agree
    • Go you for being so supportive of choices/lifestyles that you might not know much about. It's absolutely wonderful to see so much love and open-mindedness. We need more of this!!

      But I did want to make one gentle correction: Polyamory was what was mentioned in the original post and your comment mentioned polygamy. Polyamory and polygamy are actually not the same thing.

      A polygamist (the word means 'many wives') marries more than one person. Usually there's not an equal distribution (e.g. in the example of one man marrying several women, the women themselves do not have several spouses but are all married to the same man). This seems occur most often in certain religious sects and although I'm sure it's possible for polygamy to happen the other way around (one woman, multiple husbands) I think that it must be pretty rare.

      Whereas polyamory (the word means 'many loves') is the practice of both men and women having multiple romantic/emotionally involved partners, often with the intent of longterm commitment. Many poly folk do have a legal spouse and also have other partners, but there is only one legal spouse. There is also a much more equal gender distribution in that all genders are free to have partners.

      There's a lot of info to google if you were interested, or I'd be glad to answer any questions (I've been polyamorous for years), but honestly I'm just glad and impressed that you commented with such an open mind. You can't hear me, but I'm applauding as I type this. It's hard to applaud and type at the same time but I'm giving it my best shot.

      55 agree
      • Thanks for this information! I just wanted to add that when a woman has more than one husband or male partner, it is called polyandry.

        4 agree
        • Hee! I'm chuckling because my partner said exactly what you did, but it was too late to edit the comment. ;-D

          Great minds, all thinking…

          3 agree
        • As an anthropologist, I just want to add one small thing 😉

          Polygamy= multiple spouses
          polyandry= multiple husbands
          polygyny= multiple wives.
          Both polyandry and polygyny are forms of polygamy. And polyandry is not common, though some cultures in Tibet and Nepal still practice it regularly. Just my little FYI :)

          That being said, this is very cool!

          30 agree
      • First off I'd like to say wow, this post was amazin and we need moar! Second, thank you for posting this comment. Thank you for the insight, I was very confused with all of it. I didn't even know that there was something other than polygamy, but reading the BDSM I was interested, lo and behold I learned somethign new today! And truth be told after reading it I was so lost about what was happeneing until you left this comment and now I understand and I wanted to thank you for that. If I don't get it I try to understand the best I can and you've helped a lot. THANK YOU!

        7 agree
      • Just goes to show my obliviousness. :) Thanks for the correction!

  3. That's beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    1 agrees
  4. This is lovely… very well-written and carefully thought out, clearly.

    1 agrees
  5. I recently shot a collaring ceremony / BDSM wedding – it was amazing and beautiful. I've often wondered what resources are out there for couples who don't fall into the mainstream his/hers ring thing. Thanks so much for sharing!

    7 agree
  6. Seriously, you guys? I love this shit. Where else in the land of wedding blogs do you see the BDSM ceremonies? This is one of those posts that just makes me all warm and fuzzy (slash hot and bothered) about OBB.

    57 agree
    • Yeah, I was SO stoked when I saw this. People have been BEGGING us for more BDSM lifestyle content. I hope to see more as well.

      23 agree
  7. This is not my thing, however it certainly fits Off Beat Bride.
    :)

    27 agree
    • Just wanted to say that, even as the publisher of Offbeat Bride, this post is totally not MY thing either, but I love that we can all appreciate it. :)

      49 agree
  8. The halachic note at the bottom made me squee. So unexpected and awesome.

    9 agree
  9. Doesn't anyone find the idea of publicly "collaring" a woman incredibly disgusting? All the feminist hairs on my body are standing on end! While I am not in a polyamorous relationship, I do feel that people should be allowed to express all the love they feel inside. However, using a collar to symbolize this unique bond is rife with tones of ownership.

    44 agree
    • When it's consensual, it's not disgusting. Indeed, consensual ownership is the whole point of a collaring ceremony! Also, in this particular situation SHE'S collaring HIM. Does it only seem "incredibly disgusting" if it's a man collaring a woman?

      83 agree
      • I fully support all kinds of consensual relationships. I mainly find the symbol of the collar offensive. Consensual ownership is not the idea that comes across when one member (male or female) is wearing the collar and the other holds the key. Not to mention the fact that it objectifies the collared. And yes, I would find it "incredibly disgusting" if a woman was collaring a man.

        25 agree
        • Wendy– I think "consensual ownership" is not the idea that comes across TO YOU when you see references to collaring ceremonies. A collaring ceremony is not an uncommon way of sanctifying commitment (although it's not the only way, obviously); clearly, the symbol works for a lot of people, and if no one is trying to force you to do it, it's not hurting you.

          You're entitled to your opinion, but please be respectful and conscious of others' rights to make their own choices and use the rituals which resonate with them.

          61 agree
          • Can't a normal ring also be seen as a tiny collar… seems similar to me..

            74 agree
          • @J : If a couple desires a collar, they use a collar.

            As someone who's been collared, I kindly ask you to refrain from judgmental and offensive statements.

            53 agree
        • I was just going to say, it's no different than putting a ring on your finger… There is nothing disgusting about expressing devotion and love to another (consenting) person.

          31 agree
    • It's just as possible for a woman to collar a man y'know. It has nothing to do with feminism, just normal people who have a desire for a Dominant/submissive relationship. There are also male/male and female/female combos.

      38 agree
    • I'm totally out of the loop regarding polyamory/etc. so it was interesting to read this ceremony. I think I see what you mean by the idea of collaring someone, if you break it down to just that act. Someone wearing a collar seems to be on the same ground as putting a collar on a pet. However, I don't see it that way here because obviously this ceremony required and displays a lot of thought and consent so if that's what was agreed upon, then I don't see anything wrong with it here.

      5 agree
      • It's funny… I completely understood it (and I'm the one at the top who said she had no idea about any of this). I feel like so often "equality" ends up trying to enforce same-ness, when there is so much to benefit from a relationship of differences. Dominant/submissive is totally one relationship I can understand, even as respectful, loving humans. It's obviously not an objectification (just read those quotes!), but it's defining the roles of their relationship, the roles they wish to play. I honestly think normal marriage could benefit from looking at it this way. I would much rather define my role as the "social worrier" and have my husband define his as the "laid-back introvert", than "wife" and "husband", which no longer seem to apply in this age of equality.
        Anyway, got sidetracked there, but seriously I completely "get" the desire for being in one of those roles (both dominant and submissive) and I truly think most people have that desire in some way. It is probably pretty healthy to actually acknowledge and express it in a mutually beneficial way like this.
        Apologies for the ramble…

        41 agree
        • Agreed! I think all relationships that recognize specific desires, ways of communicating, and everyone's true nature are potentially the most honest. It may not be Dom/sub necessarily, but certainly an understanding of the roles that are comfortable for each partner is totally parallel to this, in my opinion.

          11 agree
        • Agreed as well! That guy I married actually read some article recently that compared D/s relationships to the traditional idea of marriage in the '50s. Interested in delving into that idea more, I Googled and I found this: "Some D/s relationships may be compared to the idealized marriages portrayed in older television programs, in which one partner is domestic and service-oriented and the other partner is the provider, protector, and household authority."

          21 agree
    • Instead of condemning the collar, think of it as another form of wedding ring. Do you find it disgusting if a couple decides to get tattoos instead of exchange rings? What if only one part of the couple wore a ring? A collaring ceremony is a public display of love for one another, just like any wedding, handfasting, commitment ceremony or whatever else. This ceremony clearly states the love each party has for one another, as well as their respective spouses. Perhaps the idea that you would completely condemn a consensual relationship based on (what is clearly) a.very limited knowledge of said relationship is "incredibly disgusting" is offensive to, say I don't know… The people in the relationship?!

      33 agree
      • Louie, if you would read my posts, I am not condemning the relationship. People should have the right to love whomever they choose in whatever way they choose. Your comparison of wedding rings to a collar is off however. The main difference being that a collar is locked onto one person while the other member holds the key to remove it. Thereby, symbolizing a loss of autonomy in the relationship.

        11 agree
        • Sorry, I must have misunderstood what you meant by "incredibly disgusting". My bad.
          Now forgive me if I am mistaken, but if someone were to choose to be submissive, and were to choose to honour a relationship by showing their submissive desires openly, and chose to do this of their own accord, would that not be autonomous? Would the people in said relationship, by choosing to stay true to themselves rather than the social norms, be displaying the very definition of autonomy?

          37 agree
          • There's no need to get snarky and sarcastic. My argument has always been that the symbol of the collar, not the relationship, is offensive. You are correct in your description of the relationship as being autonomous and liberated. However, I feel that using a collar to symbolize that relationship objectifies the submissive member and has deep undertones of ownership and slavery.

            17 agree
          • @Wendy: If a person wants to be owned, then so be it. Who are you to say that their symbol is disgusting? Should that be the couple's choice in devotional displays, why is it a chip on your shoulder?

            As someone who lived in a relationship where I was the collared submissive, I respectfully as you to refrain from statements like "disgusting."

            In addition, not all subs are slaves.

            42 agree
        • @ Wendy, I'm just putting it out there that although the picture has a lock, not all do. For example, my collar isn't lockable; He got it from a store while out shopping with our adopted grandmother. (She's a Marine and a Pastor — she thinks plain thongs are too sexy for good girls!)

          Please don't assume anything about the propriety of a lock and key. He holds the proverbial key to my heart and if He so chose, the key that allows me to remove my sign of commitment.

          And it does have undertones of slavery. Those who are collared slaves tend to have consented to being in slavery… And subs AREN'T slaves. There is no undertone of slavery unless BOTH parties want it. Consent is the first rule of a D/s or M/s relationship.

          26 agree
    • "Ownership", for many in the BDSM lifestyle, is exactly the desired image. You can note the use of "slave" terms and references in their commitment ceremony, above. Similarly, many people in the BDSM realm refer to their submissives as "pet", so a collar is a very apt symbol. This is a bond that these people have chosen.
      I suggest reading some of the Ds posts that are floating around on the internet to learn more about the lifestyle. It's clear that entering a union like this is based on the shared agreement that neither person will abuse their role or the other person. But the internet can fill you in a lot more about Ds lifestyles than I could!
      I used to be very put-off by the Ds lifestyle. But upon researching, I'm learning to appreciate that the symbology is generally just that–a symbol of a commitment. The collar is not entirely unlike a wedding ring, and the wearers choose to imbue it with whatever meaning they feel is appropriate and true to their hearts. Consider that you're the one that's placing a negative meaning on it instead of the other way around. You come to the table with your own connotations, but these people clearly feel quite differently about what it means. And that's okay–for me, I don't think "slave" is an appropriate word to use for just about anything outside of real, forced human servitude, but these people see it as a badge of pride, love, respect and commitment–not objectification.

      42 agree
    • Part of the allure of the relationship embodied in a D/s relationship is the TRUST one must really have in their partner. The trust needed to go through with some things that you would experience in a D/s relationship is extreme, more extreme than the trust needed to give some one access to your bank account or your car keys. If you are in a committed enough D/s relationship to WANT to publicly or privately go through a commitment ceremony you should be able to trust that person literally with your life. You trust them to suspend you from a ceiling or whip you, you should be able to trust them to take the collar off and do as you wish if you were to want it off or want out of the relationship.

      It is because of feminism that I am comfortable submitting fully and completely and trusting implicitly my Partner. If men were still dominating women in the real world every day way of things there is no way I would be able to fully trust my Partner.

      While the image of a locked collar does hit some nerves and may even cause a visceral gut reaction please try to keep harsh wording to a minimum. There are many who think that a gay couple adopting a child out of foster care disgusting, but we all know its not ACTUALLY disgusting.

      People may symbolize their commitment and TRUST however they want as long as it is safe sane and consensual.

      88 agree
      • I just want to thank you for this comment.

        17 agree
    • Collaring is not exclusive to women. It is a commitment a dominant and his/her submissive, be it a woman to a man, man to a woman, man to a man, etc. Many times the dom/sub role does not involve traditional sex roles. I have friends who are committed to their sub/dom and do not engage in sexual intercourse with each other. Feminism and BDSM can and do work together. Feminism is about choice, not forced roles. If a woman wants to be a sub or a dom, it's HER choice.

      Your objection to the collar as a symbol of a consensual choice by both the dom and the sub and in many cases their committed significant others, is nothing sort ethnocentric (for lack of a better term). You are placing your own views of a symbol of another culture as better than your own and not in the context of the culture in which it occurs.

      18 agree
    • There are many in the BDSM culture that do use the collar as a symbol of ownership. But, at the same time, it is completely unlike what most people would think of as "slavery". It is done with the consent of the person being collared. The collar symbolizes a long term commitment between the Dominant and submissive, in which there is a lot of trust given on both parties. A collar really is the most appropriate adornment for this type of relationship, where the lines of Master and slave are clearly drawn.

      No matter who it is entering the relationship, be it man or woman, they come to it of their own free will and wear the collar with pride.

      7 agree
    • Hey Wendy

      I'm the one getting collared in this very ceremony.

      I'm also the man.

      This is what I want, and I should be allowed to have it.

      I *want* a release from autonomy. I want to be allowed to wholeheartedly belong to another. While I don't identify as a slave, I do identify as a pet. That's my choice, and the relic I choose to symbolize it with is the Collar.

      You don't get to decide what's right for me, regardless of my sex/gender.

      176 agree
  10. This is awesome!

    I really love this line: "in doing so we must acknowledge its place amongst the other commitments of our lives."

    That is a line that could be applied to a variety of ceremonies and is very interesting to think on.

    Thanks for sharing and best wishes~

    20 agree
  11. One of the things I love most about OBE is how it exposes me to other lifestyles and belief systems that I would probably never have come across in my own life otherwise. I appreciate the beauty and reverence in this ceremony and love that this website demonstrates so many different forms of commitment in its content.

    51 agree
    • This.

      You wrote it more eloquently then I could have.

      3 agree
  12. Go OBB! I really wish we had something to send y'all, but our wedding was pretty damn vanilla. I'll join the chorus of folks asking for more, though!

  13. Moar! MOAR! BDSM all the things!

    Squee – on a serious note, however, kudos to all commenting in a very open fashion. I'm very much on the outer edges of things like this and often times I am very out of the loop, but I LOVE THIS and I really want to know more about this lifestyle. I know that there was a post about polyamory jealousy before, but this commitment ceremony seems really sincere (and really hot!) I would love to see more commitment stories where there was consensual domination/submissive elements…even incorporated into more "vanilla" weddings!
    Yay!

    9 agree
  14. I am fascinated by all of this. This post is like a one-two punch of two things that I am vaguely knowledgeable about, but totally ignorant of in detail. Thank you for this post, and I hope there are so much more like this! Seriously, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at this ceremony. Even though not all of the posts on OBB fit how my relationship looks, I look at those as an educational experience. I'll echo what others have said and request MOAR!! :)

    3 agree
  15. While Dom/Sub relationships outside of marriage kind of make me cringe (it's the traditional Christian in me, I would consider that adultery even if everyone involved consented and gave it their blessing), I did find that it was rather well written. Blessings to you in your endeavors.

    3 agree
    • Does traditional Christianity/the Bible even address consensual non-monogamy? Honest question–I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm genuinely curious. :)

      1 agrees
      • The Old Testament portrays and regulates polygamous marriages. Basically, sleeping with someone you aren't married to isn't okay, but it's fine to have multiple sexual partners as long as you're married to all of them. One man/multiple women is what is always portrayed, though it's never specified that women can't have multiple husbands iirc. The New Testament is silent on the subject.

        Most of modern mainstream Christianity considers polygamy a relic of the ancient world along with slavery, but some believe it's still permissible. The ceremony in this post features some Old Testament verses about both slavery and polygamous relationships.

        6 agree
        • That's kind of what I was thinking– the whole Abraham/Sarah/Hagar relationship being what it was, and all. 😉

          3 agree
        • i'll have to correct lore there, sorry. as far as the new testament or the greek section, it's not actually silent on the matter. it's in timothy.

          *not a judgement, just factual correction.
          **would've put that in my first answer, but i didn't see this answer. whoops

      • this is just to answer the above question about history here, not to give a viewpoint, but as a minister, i feel i can give that answer … many things (considered right & wrong) are in the bible, namely the hebrew (1st half) or talmud. in the bible, many things are tolerated prior to laws being given on them. once laws were given on marriage, it was always only suggested between two people. however, many people broke that law & they were still recorded for history sake, like king david or solomon for instance. however, although that is represented, it was never suggested. hope that answers your question.

        *again that is ONLY to answer the above question, NOT to judge

        5 agree
        • No offense taken whatsoever! That was perfectly phrased and very educational. :) Thanks!

          2 agree
  16. Reading the comments for me was more interesting than reading the article.

    I know what polyamory is, although I don't practice it, and I'm totally familiar with BDSM (although, like others have said, it's not really my scene). I quite often take this familiarity with kink for granted, especially on sites like OBB, which are bucking the mainstream. Thanks, folks, for the reminder that "offbeat" is SO not the same as well-versed in non-mainstream lifestyles. :)

    12 agree
  17. Excellent! So nice to see more of this out in the light and not swept into the back corners of the world…I tell my fiance frequently that I want more husbands!!! 😉

    3 agree
  18. What a beautiful ceremony! I explored both lifestyles(BDSM and Polyamory)in my first marriage. Although I discovered that living either liestyle 24/7 wasn't for me, it taught me a lot about myself, and I'm greatful for the experience:) I'm so thrilled to see such a beautiful ceremony written from that perspectve!!!!

    2 agree
  19. I'm polyamorous, and lately Ds relationships have been piquing my interest, but I've been afraid to delve into it because my brain was like RAWR OWNERSHIP =/= LOVE. But this ceremony actually kind of helped me realize how Ds isn't necessarily just a sexual thing. So, thank you for educating me, Drgnsyr and OBB!

    3 agree
    • I never really considered it, but after reading this post the D/s relationship dynamic really appeals to me. I would love to be able to trust someone enough to collar me, something inside me finds it beautiful.

      11 agree
  20. While the master-slave dialect and labelling of a person as property is not something I am comfortable with or in itself associate with love, well, the tradition of a woman taking a man's name basically emerged as the woman undergoing a 'property transfer' from one master (father) to the next (husband), and many people follow this tradition, so I mean… but the other part of me, is very happy to see polyandry represented on here. It's nice to see the different forms of relationships and how people collaborate together to organically build a committment between each other. I wish you all the best!

  21. I completely love this post. I'm semi-familiar with BDSM/collaring/poly relationships and this post expresses what is important in all of those beautifully. I do see how feminists and people can't easily wrap their head around how someone would want something like that, but I fully support it =) Gotta do what makes you happy, and again…love this post!

  22. Awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!!

    And I have a set of locks (5 of them) EXACTLY like the one in the pic.

  23. Oh man, I love this site! It's probably the only place on the internet where girls post about weddings and I look under a BDSM or any post really – and there's a shitload of POSITIVE comments! While I've never tried any of the BDSM stuff (I don't know if corset training counts), it's so nice and surprising to find not only explanations and tips, but also reassuring feedback, curiosity and understanding. Big up, girls!

    I don't know about other countries, because I rarely drift to conventional wedsites, but where I live (Poland) I recently found something completely different. It made me really doubt the mankind…I stumbled upon a post put up by a woman offering her wedding dress for sale (yay for upcycling), but in the comments girls instead of responding to the offer just judged her figure, called her names and basically deduced her whole life as a stupid fattie with an ugly dress and terrible taste – I can't believe women behave like that, the language was extremely cruel. On a WEDDING site. Cursed internet. I can't unsee it now.

    3 agree
  24. This was a really interesting post, but like a lot of the other commenters I'm not too familiar with either BDSM or polyamory, at least not past the basic definitions of each. I had no idea that a ceremony of commitment for a Dominant and a Submissive even existed. Is it a common thing? Is it common among already-married people? What, if any, change in the relationship does it signify? What sort of commitment does it commemorate – mostly sexual, or are other things involved/equally important? Does the ceremony itself involve sex, and if this ceremony is "vanilla" does a typical ceremony involve more sex, or more overt BDSM symbolism/behavior of some kind? I am so curious now! I need more context!

    5 agree
  25. As a kink newbie (eager to explore further!), I found this absolutely fascinating. And awesome! Thank you so much for sharing.

    3 agree
    • Thank you! I'll be sure to check these out when I get home.

      1 agrees
  26. Just out of curiosity, who is invited to this ceremony? D/s isn't my thing, but obviously you can and should do whatever you want with your life. But I would be mightily uncomfortable attending this ceremony. I think I'd feel like I was included in someone's sexual life without consent.

    Again, I think that the meaning of the ceremony is important for the participants – just wondering who else is there and how they feel about it.

    1 agrees
    • Not all D/s relationships are sexual, though many do have that element included.

      As someone in the lifestyle (when I can be), I can't imagine inviting folks that would be made uncomfortable to a collaring ceremony. Then again, that's just me. Collaring is seen as a big deal by some folks who participate in BSDM and I would see those folks, or the ones who aren't kinky, but supportive, as guests at a public collaring ceremony.

      6 agree
    • Jane,

      I'm the sub in question.

      We're inviting our closest friends, most of whom are either D/s themselves or are at least very familiar with both the lifestyle and my relationship with Drgnsyr. In no way will this event be sexualized. Truth be told, unless you know what you are looking at, the event will appear for all intents and purposes to be a wedding…or something like it anyway.

      8 agree
  27. I remember reading this on OBT, and being literally breathless at the beauty and intensity of it. Bravo for posting it on the main blog! This is something I may run into with my future spouse someday. He would love to be in a truly D/s relationship, and there could be a time when he makes this kind of committment to a different woman. We're getting married because we want to build a life together, but to us that doesn't necessarily mean we have to be everything to each other. I love that this is even a discussion on a wedding blog.

    7 agree
  28. Crazy-interesting. Like other readers, I'd like to know more about polyamory, and what these ceremonies are typically like… Suppose I'll be following those links provided by Jacqueline!

    One thing: though I didn't even think about it at first, the wording here – of "collaring" – *is* potentially offensive. One really can't argue against that. The actual action aside, we cannot avoid the weight of history when it comes to the word "slave," and the use of "collar" in conjunction with that.

    By no means am I arguing that BDSM folk should create a new language for themselves; it's part of the group's discourse. But whenever we use words that are emotionally charged, we can't be surprised by negative reactions. That's all.

    7 agree
    • Just because someone has a negative reaction to one of the most common and basic symbols of the lifestyle doesn't mean that they need to label it as "disgusting."

      12 agree
    • Dentata,

      The term collaring is offensive? I most certainly can argue that. Does the term "gay marriage" likewise offend you?

      This is a type of bonding between two consensual adults that yearn for this sort of connection.

      6 agree
  29. I was really impressed by this post. Not only that it is original but it is inspiring.

    1 agrees
  30. Hi all,

    I'm an old timer to OBB but a first poster. I have to admit, my gut reaction to this whole idea was "ew" and I agreed with Wendy.

    However, I took the time to read through everyone's comments, with an open mind, and I think I've been (somewhat) swayed. It's not my thing (I think someone said that before) but I believe all adults have the right to make these types of decisions, even if I (or others) don't completely understand it.

    That being said, I wanted to weigh in on something. (And, Wendy, feel free to correct me.) Wendy is saying a collar reminds her of slavery and ownership. The couple and pro-commenters are saying the collar symbolizes slavery and ownership and submission. The only difference is Wendy finds the idea disgusting (maybe not a good word choice, as it's a bit offensive, Wendy).

    I, personally, would NEVER choose to label myself as submissive or enslaved to another person. And, like Wendy, it makes the feminist in me squeamish/incredibly uneasy.

    However, if another person (man or woman), wants to take on that role, it's not my right to judge it or look down upon it. I guess people 30, 40, 50 (heck even now) said gay love/marriage made them "squeamish/incredibly uneasy." It's their right to feel that way, but not their right to condemn it.

    Sorry for rambling – just felt compelled to throw my two cents in (however unorganized it might be).

    13 agree
    • Yes, I agree. A lot of things make me uncomfortable, but I can't make an argument against them beyond, "ew, that makes me feel icky." What's important to remember is that the words slave, submissive, ownership, are titles that have positive meaning and are used in a shared, respectful, and consensual way.

      5 agree
  31. I think it's important to separate ourselves and our own life from those of others. I too admit that I'm uncomfortable with the word 'slave' and would not want it applied to myself or my loved ones because of the painful connotations of that word, but then again (a) I'm not in the scene and actively part of the evolution of that dialogue, and (b) if I was, I could choose to use other words that I felt were more accurate (for the same reason I choose to use partner and not 'husband' in an environment that favours the later). For that reason, although the dialogue and word usage doesn't resonate with me, I think it's important to separate that from my opinions on what's happening here, and that is: people formalizing and celebrating the relationship they have with each other, be it sexual, Ds, marriage, parent-child, or other. Maybe our world would be a more interesting, loving place if we had more common ceremonies to celebrate our various relationships/commitments in life, and not just marriage (wedding) and parenting (baptism/blessing way/other ceremonies that tend to center around child-having).

    @jane, it's been my experience that people who invite you to their ceremonies have thought long and hard about who to invite, and do a fabulous job of preparing you for what you might see at their particular event, so you can make an informed decision.

    5 agree
    • Hilariously enough, I vehemently do not identify as a slave. Still, Drgnsyr vehemently *does* identify as a Jew, and when she showed me this I couldn't turn it down. It's too perfect.

      I'm not a slave, but I have no compunctions about belonging to her =D

      7 agree
  32. ok i have a off the wall question, but i've never read vows like this so i was just wondering how this worked. hope it's not offensive, b/c it's about how divorce works in this arrangement.

    if the d wants to stay in, but the s wants out, can they leave? b/c once they accept the collar, that seems like it would be it. so, can they change their minds or is that completely against this belief system. do they have to get permission from the d to leave? just curious.

    1 agrees
    • It depends on the individuals involved and what agreements they've made.

      Many subs and slaves (probably "most", but I haven't done the research to confirm) are free to leave the relationship if they wish. They have consented to submit. That consent can be withdrawn. The relationship may change or end.

      Some slaves do make an agreement that they may only leave the relationship with the permission of their Master. It depends on what the people involved are looking for.

      Usually (but not always) there is some negotiation on equal footing before any power exchange occurs so that all parties involved have a chance to state their desires and expectations and agree upon how to proceed.

      Hope this helps clear things up somewhat!
      Regards,
      – Helen

      4 agree
    • Mariegael,

      Specifically in the contract of this ceremony, we will revisit our decision every year on our anniversary to assess where things are going. 7 years from the ceremony day, I have the right to walk away from the whole thing without question, or dedicate myself to another 7 years.

      Talmudic law for the win! (Says the Catholic…)

      10 agree
      • Very interesting! I think that any committed relationship would do well to have a re-evaluation meeting on the anniversary. I think the problem with many relationships of any form is the individuals don't communicate enough about the relationship trajectory.

        6 agree
        • I agree. In polyamory specifically, this type of open communication is critical. Failure to explain expectations or explore potential weak points can easily lead to the failure of a relationship.

          Drgnsyr and I are, I think, above average at communicating troubles and getting them aired. Must be something about that whole fate thing…

          3 agree
  33. As a collared kitty girl of a wonderful man, this post makes me so happy that I cried. With people who may or may not understand the lifestyle but are supportive of it,it just makes me happy.

    But to those who don't understand and think our life is disgusting, we are happy regardless and we don't fight as much as some of our non-lifestyle friends. We have assigned roles in our household which makes it easier to not get upset because 'someone isn't pulling their weight'. I see so many couples fight over who does the laundry vs who does the dishes or whatever it may be, but we don't because I do the housework while he brings home a paycheck. All fights resolved no need to bring it up.

    7 agree
    • Love. Rock on with your collared self :)

      4 agree
  34. I admit, I'm very offended by some things here–not because of your choice to live your life as you please, but for other reasons that I'd be interested to hear polite, thoughtful responses to–as I will be careful to express myself politely and thoughtfully. :) First, I am deeply uncomfortable with the use of Scriptures in this ceremony–I have no doubt there are modern readings that address your lifestyle, but to use Scripture that was produced in a specific historical context in this way feels very wrong to me. Second, I cannot believe no one else has addressed the racially charged nature of words like "slave" and "collaring". As a Black person, it feels like you are play-acting with what is, to me, a deeply painful set of highly charged terms. I am NOT saying that is your intent, but it feels really, really bad to see the language of forcibly enslaved persons conflated with kinky fun-times in this manner.

    11 agree
      • Thank you for the links. They do explain, although they change nothing for me. It's a little like the way I feel about language: I know that people, many people, use words like "the n word", "the c word" etc. and say they are reclaiming them, making them their own. I respectfully but completely disagree. There is nothing empowering in hate speech to BE "reclaimed". There is nothing empowering about slavery to reclaim either, to me. If the people here have grappled with that and it works for them, that is their right. But I'm having a major feeling of "check your privilege" here, you know? It's a very serious thing to take that language, that history, and make it all about you and your consensual lifestyle. I'm not saying it's impossible to navigate that minefield, but it's mighty tricky and, I'm sorry, not working for me here.

        6 agree
        • Yep, I'm totally there with you: I'm not personally comfortable with it either, but I also acknowledge that kinky sex is, well, kinky. Ultimately, these are much larger and more complex issues than we could ever hope to address in a post on a silly wedding blog (there are academics writing their dissertations on bdsm/race issues as I type), but it's always interesting to see the questions raised.

          5 agree
  35. Jennifer's really hit the nail on the head here. In my opinion, it's offensive to justify these terms and acts (collaring, calling someone slave, etc) by talking about consent, when they are based on a long history of non-consensual tragedies.

    9 agree
    • Hayley and Jennifer,

      I'm so sorry that you were offended by our ceremony. I'll put your RSVP down as a "no" then?

      In seriousness, I understand that some people are uncomfortable with those phrases and concepts. The BDSM lifestyle isn't for everyone just as the vanilla life isn't for everyone.

      Nonetheless, it is a thriving subculture that deserves the right to speech just the same as any other. We use charged language and imagery for sure, just as many other subcultures do.

      And we're entitled to. We aren't invoking horror or tragedy. We're invoking subservience and obedience and devotion.

      Also, I have checked my privilege. As it turns out, I can call myself whatever I want. That's the privilege of being an American.

      28 agree
  36. I will admit, this post makes me somewhat uncomfortable – it depicts something completely outside of my comfort zone, in part because of my background as a black female feminist.

    HOWEVER, I am SO glad to see it on Offbeat Bride! If I wanted to only see bland, let's-keep-everyone-comfortable posts, I'd stick with the mainstream.

    Thanks OBB!!!

    14 agree
  37. I think it is important to realize that the scripture of the Old Testament belongs to many faiths, and to many varied sects with in those faiths. I am a Jew.* Any commitment I make is going to be with in that context. I am also a polyamorist. I do not believe that my lifestyle choices are in violation of my faith (as a reading of the Old Testament shows many examples of, at least, polygamy). At the MOST they are as "wrong" as premarital sex – a sin I have known very few individuals not to commit. Any commitment I make is going to be with in the context of my faith, and I believe there is nothing wrong with including scriptural passages that I feel support my decisions.

    I also ask that you realize that the term "slave" was only used with in the scriptural passages. While African slavery in America is our most recent experience with slavery, the term applies to many cultural manifestations through out history, including biblical times (Jews have a holiday every year where they remind themselves that they were once slaves in Egypt). The traditions incorporated in this ceremony are all drawn directly from the (non-Egyptian) biblical idea of slavery, which is much closer to what we might think of as indentured servitude. While the term may conjure up images of the Old South and auction blocks for you, there are many other contexts for slavery through out history and through out the world.

    For people concerned about the symbolism behind the collar, it is supposed to identify ownership and, to whatever degree you want, a loss of autonomy. The idea is that you are handing yourself to another person and trusting them to make the decisions that are right for you. If you are a person who finds the idea of losing your autonomy unsettling then of course this imagery will bother you. However, there are many people who feel a sense of relief and even freedom in knowing that their lives are someone else's responsibility. Some people feel more valuable as a prized possession than as a person. It is objectifying because the submissive wants to be objectified. This is the symbolism that makes them feel loved and, ironically, empowered.

    Some people felt that inviting someone to this would be like inviting them into our bedroom. The truth is that, for many, BDSM isn't just something that happens in a sexual context. If Arkalem and I are both sitting down and I want something from the kitchen, I will probably ask him to get it for me rather than getting it myself. Doing things to make me feel important makes him feel important. There is nothing sexual about him getting me a glass of water, but it is still submissive. These roles define our interactions with each other no matter the context. As a result, even our non-kinky friends are somewhat aware of them.

    However, to answer a particular question, many collaring ceremonies that weren't trying to be vanilla friendly would involve more kink than this one. Some might include a flogging or a piercing. Many are usually held during, or right before a "play party," which is BDSM in a sexual context. Ours will just be followed by a pot luck where we'll have some friends sing and spin fire. Think of it as more of a commitment ceremony that uses a BDSM framework.

    These communities are still very fringe. Being so tied up in sexuality its hard to think of them outside that context. But polyamory and BDSM are both about more than who and how you have sex. They're about love. And expressing that love. Thank you Offbeatbride for helping us show that. We don't expect everyone to get it all at once.

    * Polyamory is no more commonly accepted amongst the Jewish faith than the Christian one. I only speak of my personal beliefs here.

    53 agree

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