Wedding Vows & Ceremony Discussions

asking family friend who is a minister to officiate without offending

I'm getting married next summer, and we would like to ask a good friend of my family's to perform the wedding. He is a pastor and has been for something like 40 years and has known me for the majority of my life. The two main reasons we want him to do the wedding are that he and my dad, who passed away about 2.5 years ago, were good friends for a very long time, and also because neither my fiance nor I are church-goers or religious and we like the idea of having someone who means something to us marry us.

Here's the issue... from what I understand, he is/has been pretty high up in the national administration of his church, and we aren't sure if he would be able to perform our wedding (my mom thinks they're pretty strict). Aside from what his church may or may not allow, the other issue is the fact that we don't want a very religious ceremony (I was raised Catholic but am not practicing, my fiance did not have any religious upbringing and we don't think he was baptized). Not so much a civil ceremony, but more nondenominational - I'm fine with God coming to my wedding but I don't want a lot of bible passages. Our families are completely fine with this, so that isn't an issue, thankfully.

So, here's the question: how do I ask if he would be willing to officiate without offending him? I've started the email at least 5 times. I feel like I need to explain up front that we don't want a very religious ceremony and I just don't know how to ask that without being rude to his beliefs. I also tend to be an over-explainer, so that is likely playing a role in all of this :) Thoughts?

Re: asking family friend who is a minister to officiate without offending

  • Ummm are you me?? haha I am in the exact same situation with the same backgrounds!

    We haven't asked yet for the same reasons so unfortunately I don't have an answer but I will be following this thread to see if anyone has insight. Know you're not alone :)


  • oh wow, that's too funny! glad I'm not the only one trying to figure out what to do here.

    My mom offered to talk to him for me, but I figured that if I'm enough of an adult to get married that I'm enough of an adult to ask him, but I may take her up on the offer after all haha. Let me know if you figure anything out!
  • I don't see any issue with asking. He will know the rules they follow best. It is easier to get someone to officiate who is normally affiliated with a church or religious institution if you are not doing your ceremony at that site.

    I know our Pastor could only officiate weddings at our church for church members. But if the wedding took place elsewhere it was up to his discretion.
  • Hi so-and so!

    How are you? Hope all is well! FI and I are getting married on X and we would love for you to officiate at Y location. It would be so meaningful as a dear friend of my father's. We aren't sure of the restirctions you have to marry people, so if this is at all a problem for you, we completely understand. We just are curious about the option! 

    Thanks so much!
    OP
    southernbelle0915Ven&Radio[Deleted User]raeah219
  • Hi so-and so!

    How are you? Hope all is well! FI and I are getting married on X and we would love for you to officiate at Y location. It would be so meaningful as a dear friend of my father's. We aren't sure of the restirctions you have to marry people, so if this is at all a problem for you, we completely understand. We just are curious about the option! 

    Thanks so much!
    OP


    I like this version. If it were me, I'd be a little more to the point, since he's obviously a busy man.

    Here's my version:

    Good Morning Pastor Smith,


    My FI, Bryan, and I are planning to get married on X at Y location. We would love to have you officiate our non-denominational ceremony and wanted to inquire as to your availability.

    Thank you,
    Stan721
     
    This leaves it up to the Pastor if he wants to simply say he's unavailabe, or if he wants to further elaborate and cannot due to other restrictions.
  • itzMS said:
    Hi so-and so!

    How are you? Hope all is well! FI and I are getting married on X and we would love for you to officiate at Y location. It would be so meaningful as a dear friend of my father's. We aren't sure of the restirctions you have to marry people, so if this is at all a problem for you, we completely understand. We just are curious about the option! 

    Thanks so much!
    OP


    I like this version. If it were me, I'd be a little more to the point, since he's obviously a busy man.

    Here's my version:

    Good Morning Pastor Smith,


    My FI, Bryan, and I are planning to get married on X at Y location. We would love to have you officiate our non-denominational ceremony and wanted to inquire as to your availability.

    Thank you,
    Stan721
     
    This leaves it up to the Pastor if he wants to simply say he's unavailabe, or if he wants to further elaborate and cannot due to other restrictions.
    I like this because it says upfront that you want a "non-denominational" ceremony and not at all in a rude way.
  • These are great suggestions! Thank you! I kept trying to explain and was getting too caught up in the weeds to get to a short and sweet request. I really appreciate the input :)
    svc2014

  • Stan721 said:
    These are great suggestions! Thank you! I kept trying to explain and was getting too caught up in the weeds to get to a short and sweet request. I really appreciate the input :)
    Let us know how it goes! :)
  • itzMS said:
    Hi so-and so!

    How are you? Hope all is well! FI and I are getting married on X and we would love for you to officiate at Y location. It would be so meaningful as a dear friend of my father's. We aren't sure of the restirctions you have to marry people, so if this is at all a problem for you, we completely understand. We just are curious about the option! 

    Thanks so much!
    OP


    I like this version. If it were me, I'd be a little more to the point, since he's obviously a busy man.

    Here's my version:

    Good Morning Pastor Smith,


    My FI, Bryan, and I are planning to get married on X at Y location. We would love to have you officiate our non-denominational ceremony and wanted to inquire as to your availability.

    Thank you,
    Stan721
     
    This leaves it up to the Pastor if he wants to simply say he's unavailabe, or if he wants to further elaborate and cannot due to other restrictions.
    Definitely better :) 
  • WOW! Im in the exact same situation, and I was actually searching for a post about it! I already asked my uncle, who is a pastor, and let him know we'd like a short, simple, non-religious ceremony. He agreed, but unfortunately the outline of the ceremony he sent me has several prayers in it. I don't want to offend him, being that he's a pastor, but we don't practice any religion and don't want too many God references. I guess I'm going to see if we can cut some at least, if not all. Glad to know there are others figuring this out too!
  • WOW! Im in the exact same situation, and I was actually searching for a post about it! I already asked my uncle, who is a pastor, and let him know we'd like a short, simple, non-religious ceremony. He agreed, but unfortunately the outline of the ceremony he sent me has several prayers in it. I don't want to offend him, being that he's a pastor, but we don't practice any religion and don't want too many God references. I guess I'm going to see if we can cut some at least, if not all. Glad to know there are others figuring this out too!
    Umm if you aren't religious or practicing any religion, why are you haven't references to God in your ceremony? Why did you ask a pastor to officiate?

    I think if I was a pastor, I would be a little offended by a bride asking me to cut out God from the marriage ceremony I was asked to perform. 
    image
    [Deleted User]
  • We asked my uncle to officiate because he is my uncle. There have been several posts on other threads about ministers and pastors who are perfectly okay performing non-religious ceremonies. Again, when I asked him I let him know we wanted a non-religious ceremony. When I talk to him again, I'll ask him what he's comfortable with, and if he's not comfortable doing a non-religious ceremony we will go from there.
  • I think that is inherently the tricky part to all of this! We haven't yet asked because we don't have a date just yet, but I worry about getting a similar response and figuring out how to handle it. Hopefully your uncle will understand that while you respect his beliefs, they just don't jive with yours and you'd like to alter the ceremony in XYZ ways. I did some Googling and found scripts/outlines for different types of ceremonies, so perhaps you could send him one and say you were thinking something more along those lines.
  • I would call him & see if you can arrange a meeting with him, either at his office or for coffee. Explain to him that you would love for him to do the service because he has known you for so long and it would mean a lot to you and your family, but that if he can't do it because you aren't regular church goers/members of the church, you would understand. This way you give him a way to say no politely if the can't due to his standing and your personal current beliefs. If you haven't decided on where the ceremony will be yet, if it won't be in his church the you need to advise him that it won't be there because that could be a huge thing if he can or can't do it. Bascially go in there, be honest, and be prepared for him to have to say no & then go, well we would still love to have you as a guest then, do you know of any officiants that you could recommend that could do the ceremony for us?
  • Thanks for your input Erikan. Unfortunately, we don't live anywhere near each other so a face-to-face discussion isn't possible. We are planning to do our ceremony and reception in the same space (once we choose it), so it will be outdoors and not in a church. I do like your suggestion to ask for other recommendations, though. Thanks!
  • UPDATE:  My uncle was perfectly fine making the ceremony non-specific.  There are still prayers and blessings, but he never specifically mentions "God".  I explained that my fiance and I don't share the same belief systems, and while we respect each other's beliefs, we leave religion out of our relationship.  The ceremony he came up with is a perfect compromise of letting him do his thing, but staying true to who we are as a couple.
    OliveOilsMom
  • that's great, dancinxqueen!

    I also have an update... We set our date, so I bit the bullet and emailed our family friend. I spoke to my mom ahead of time and told her what I was struggling with, and she provided a little more background on him as a minister and felt confident that he wouldn't be offended. In my email, I explained our situation and that we were looking for something more along the lines of a civil ceremony. He wrote back and said he was thrilled and honored to be asked, and was fine doing a civil ceremony but wanted to know if we would be okay with him offering a prayer and asking for God's blessing for our marriage. We are completely comfortable with that, so with the exception of those few mentions it should be secular for the remainder of the ceremony (still working out details!).
    OliveOilsMom
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