Hiring the Minister
You’re getting married! Congratulations . . . let the planning begin.
As a minister who performs weddings at many different venues throughout the year, I appreciate it when couples want to meet with me before they make their decision to complete a contract for my services. And, it’s especially great when you come with questions prepared ahead. The Internet is filled with sites that can help you with the questions to ask; below are ones I appreciate getting asked.
I feel it is part of my job to bring a sense of peace and calmness to a time where there can be a lot of stress and tension for anxious couples. From the planning stages and not knowing what to do, to the time frame of what needs to be done for the ceremony itself, to the rehearsal and to wedding day. For your officiate you want to select someone who you know you are comfortable being with, who can bring you that sense of peace during the moments you take this important step into marriage. Not a coordinator (that’s another role) but a guide for the ceremony itself. I’ve had couples actually bring their wedding coordinator with them to our meetings; that was very helpful.
The proprietors of most venues today, who are focused on their own wedding business, may even suggest to you that after you’ve booked their site, the next step is to find your officiate. Because many weddings today are taking place outside the walls of a church, some couples don’t know where to begin looking. The Internet is where you can begin. Referrals from friends and relatives who were happy with who performed their ceremony, are also a resource. Venue and reception sites need to be booked ahead (sometimes up to a year) to get the date you want; that can be true for clergy also.
These are a few of the questions I appreciate getting asked by couples who schedule to meet in person. Are you available on our date of course would determine if you set a meeting.
How long have you been performing weddings; how many do you perform in a year?
What is our involvement with you; how many meetings, rehearsal, ceremony, reception?
Can you accommodate our schedules for meeting times? Can we meet via Skype or telephone for planning meetings if geography and schedules are an issue?
Do you require pre-marital counseling? Describe how that works, if so.
What is your fee; when is it due? If a deposit what are the guidelines/cancellation policy for that?
Can we bring our own ideas to the planning table?
Do you travel and how is that reimbursed?
Have you performed a ceremony at our venue and what was your experience, if so?
What are your guidelines for photographer, videographer, DJ for the ceremony?
Do you have any restrictions to bridal or bridal party attire?
Are non-religious music and readings allowed?
What equipment do you require? Podium, microphone, etc.
Questions can vary if this isn’t a first marriage. Divorce and death, of course, can change the course of lives. Some additional questions might pertain to those circumstances. I believe it is important to include children in the ceremony, whether they are with you already as a couple or come from previous marriages, this day needs to be as much about them as you. It’s important their needs and feelings are addressed so they feel a part of this important step in their lives. How will your officiate include them?
We live in a day when many people are not churched. We also live in a time where many couples tell me they are more spiritual than religious. They connect their spirituality to nature and to what I like to refer to as God’s Sanctuary. Thus the growing number of couples who choose to marry in outdoor ceremonies has grown along with the number of those sites increasing. Barns, city parks, backyards, riverbanks, hotels, theater settings, airport hangers, and beneath a waterfall are sites where I’ve officiated. Do ask your officiate how flexible they can be regarding your venue and the role weather will play if outdoors. How do they handle that? Have they done a wedding in the rain? Would they?
The feedback you want from family and friends that day is, “That ceremony so reflected who you are as a couple” or “What a beautiful ceremony.” And you want to find an officiate who will take the time to work with you to create that kind of ceremony, one who will guide you in the preparation and advise you from their experience officiating. No minister, pastor, rabbi, or clergy can make your marriage come alive, but their input can certainly guide you in creating a wedding ceremony that gives you a Great Beginning!
Rev. Sandra McKinney: www.revsandramckinney.com . Sandra serves as senior minister at Unity in Eau Claire and has for the past 11 years. She performs up to 40 weddings a year at various venues throughout Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, as well as Marshfield, Trego, Viroqua, Madison, and La Crosse, WI. She is also credentialed for Minnesota weddings.