When you approach a pastor to do your marriage ceremony, understand that it usually will not result in just a yes and we will see you on your wedding day. Many pastors will require you to get pre-marital counseling from the pastor himself/herself. In my opinion, this is not to say yes or no to your marriage but rather get you talking about things you may not have normally talked about. This will usually result in 6 meetings before your wedding date.
If you want a certain pastor to marry you but plan to do it out of town, it is appreciated that you cover all travel expenses. This may vary a bit if it is a relatives wedding because he/she was probably going to attend anyway. On the occasion however that the pastor is not a relative, please don’t think this is just what a pastor does. The pastor has a personal life/family as well, and though he enjoys doing your wedding all travel costs should be taken care of by the people being married. This is a vocation and deserves to get compensated for his/her time.
I know you love your pastor very much if you have known him for a long time which is why you are asking him/her to officiate. You may have chosen a pastor that you like who isn't your official pastor but want him/her to do your marriage. Or, if you have just found a pastor though you are not plugged into a church…you need to treat them right.
A pastor who goes through pre-marital counseling with you, with wedding rehearsal and wedding ceremony with reception will spend on average 25+ hours on your wedding when all is said and done. You need to understand being a pastor is our vocation, and though we have mindset of a church and pastor being the giving type…25+ hours spent on a couple means 25+ hours away from his/her family and some compensation is very much appreciated.
Please disregard the above if the pastor/church charges a fee for weddings. I personally have a fee of $300.oo (extra for the usage of the building if you are not a partner...partners use the building for free). This fee includes all of my time, books and assessment. The pastor is probably charging that because after hearing form 23+ other pastors, they were probably getting stiffed otherwise. I think more churches should incorporate a wedding charge.
After doing 29 weddings, and observing what is proper…if a pastor does your wedding and does not normally charge anything, it is appropriate to give a MINIMUM gift of $200.00 plus travel for the ceremony (that comes out to just a little more than minimum wage) for all the time he has invested into the biggest day of your life.
Just some thoughts for people who are thinking of getting married from a pastor who is telling you want many pastors are thinking.