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Ceremony and Vow Ideas

Questions for the pastor

My fiancee and I are getting married next April, and meeting with our pastor for the first time this April. What are some questions that I should ask him? We won't be doing our premarital classes for another 6-7 months, but I still want to get to know him and have him get to know us first.
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Re: Questions for the pastor

  • I'd mostly let him guide the conversation. He's done this many times. Obviously, you'll want to make sure he's available on your date, his requirements for counseling, any fees, and how to stay in touch with him for non-religious questions.

    We didn't ask about fees, though, so pots and kettles. I've been connected to the clergy and church since I was 12, and I'm almost certain charging a fee is against the Church's rules/laws.

    How to stay in touch is important because our officiants (5 and counting) don't want to seriously discuss "details" until like one month before, but our photographer wanted to know the light conditions in the church, and everyone needs to know how long the ceremony will be, and various vendors need to know where I'm getting ready, all much more than 1 month before the wedding. So it's helpful knowing I can ask the sexton or one of the assisting officiants questions more or less from vendors.
  • The Anglican Catholic Church. Some of the following is general to the Church, some is specific to my parish.
    1. To charge for officiating at the marriage would be simony, prohibited by Canon Law.
    2. Fees for use of the church building came up in a general way at the parish meeting in January, which was well after we started counseling. They are voluntary donations only.
    3. Our Priests take no salary and aren't contracted employees of the parish for these purposes. The arrangement is different for the parish organist. I imagine it's also different for the organist for weddings, which we'll ask about when theknot's checklist tells us to.

    As I said, I've known the people and institutions involved for most of my life. Charging for counseling is not how we operate. And, yes, we've reserved the money in the wedding budget in case we're totally wrong, but I'd feel that'd be a misjudgment of character in addition to a misjudgment of the budget.
  • I've been in "the church" all of my life and all the pastors I know of charge, too.  There are different churches and denominations and they all operate differently, so we would need to know the OP's denomination before making any suggestions in that capacity.  In my denomination, the usual fee is between $50-$100 depending on if the person is a member of the church or not.  In the Disciples of Christ denomination, which I grew up in, the pastor is an employee of the church, just like anyone else who works there, and they don't get paid for performing weddings or funerals out of the church budget, therefore the couple is charged for the wedding.  The couple also has to pay for use of the church, which varies depending on if they are a member or not.

    It's best to ask the pastor you are dealing with about fees, both for his/her services as well as church usage, church availability for rehearsals, if there's a separate fee for that.  Any special conditions (dripless candles, no candles, no dropping flower petals on the floor, who cleans up afterward and what clean up should entail.)  Also ask if there are any standard formats he/she has to follow in their denomination or how much freedom you have to shape the ceremony and the words spoken.  Definitely ask about counseling requirements.  Are there any stipulations on what musicians you may use, what types of music or songs are permitted, is there a preapproved list?  How long before the service can you come in to decorate, what types of decorations are permitted?  Is there space for you, your FI and the BP to get ready?

    That's all I can think of.
  • Fees differ all over.  We had no charge for the use of the church, the pastor refused a stipend.  We only had to pay the organist/soloist, used or not.  We hired an a flutist and trumpeter and flutist independently and they pretty much directed her on the music the B&G had requested as it wasn't standard. 
  • My church charges non-members but not members (or members' children). We will actually be paying our officiant, since we aren't using the current pastor of the church, and we are paying the organist seperately, but that is the policy at at least some churches, if that is helpful.

    The only other things I can think to ask about are policies regarding what music you can use, what instruments you can use, if there are any restrictions on what you or the bridesmaids can wear, if there are rules about decorations, and if it is ok to write your own vows or do readings that are not from the Bible. Those are all things you will want to be able to start working out before those last 5-6 months when you will be meeting with him for counseling, and some churches have REALLY strict policies, so I would just double-check before you assume anything is ok, even if it probably is. You would hate to get things planned and then have to change them or change venues/officiants!
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  • Shanding -
    It is very important to let your Pastor get to know you, but that should also happen during church time.  Your Pastor will conduct (or should) a good interview.  You should also get to know your Pastor in a one on one, but before as you visit the community.  Usually, Pastors do not meet too long prior to a couple's service.

    SOme questions:  What is your style? Is it the same as we see in church or does it vary?
    Will the message be strictly religious or bible based or will there be room for the couple's story?
    What is the usual ceremony time frame?
    WIll outside church music be permitted?
    How much of the service planning do you do or should we (as the couple) do?
    These are just some questions, but base them off your needs.

    Also, for those going back and forth on fees -
    As a Pastor, let me say that many Pastors charge a fee for non-members at least for use of the church, and in many cases a fee for the officiant is an honorarium. This means it is a gift of your choice. 

    However, let me say as a clergy person who has counseled, spent time with distraught brides and family members, prayed at receptions (but not stayed or been invited too), usually spent about 5-12 hours per wedding and recieved barely a thank you, I often look at weddings as a necessary "evil" of the profession.  They are a joy, but the religious aspect rarely seemed to matter. Charging a fee for time spent always made people respect my time a bit more under the adage of "you get what you pay for."
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