Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 263: Wedding Etiquette From a Pastors Perspective

This is a blog that has been on my mind for some time and has been confirmed by wedding after wedding I have officiated. Please understand this is a blog done as en education for those who don’t know how to treat the person officiating your wedding. I feel it necessary for people to understand “Wedding Etiquette From a Pastors Perspective.” Though I may be one of few who talk about this, I am quite confident this is what many pastors from many denominations may think (23+ pastors I have talked to share this view). So…here we go.

Number 1:

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.

Number 2:

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.

Last….

Number 3:

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.

33 comments:

  1. I think that is more than fair when you're investing 6 weeks of counseling, discussing and planning the ceremony,the wedding rehearsal, the day of the wedding, plus you need to rent a special suit (unless you own one).

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  2. If the church charges a $375.00 for members to use the church, how much should I give the Pastor if he is going to donate the money back to the church that I give him? and also would a nice gift be more appropriate so he will keep it?

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  3. There is a good chance his honorarium is already in that cost...perhaps it isn't though. If you would still like to do something I would suggest a gift car for $50 or $100 to his/her fav. golf course or restaurants/theater. That would he will keep it. I hope that helps.

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  4. The honorarium is separate. I love your Idea with gift card. He loves to golf. THANKS

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  5. Okay, so, the Pastor that is marrying me is a friend of mine and is invited to the rehearsal dinner and the reception, both with her husband as well. She is not doing the premarital counseling because of our friendship. The Pastor doing our premarital counseling is also invited to the wedding and reception with his wife. And, we are doing the traveling to the premarital counseling at his home (some distance from our homes). So, we are paying for their dinners at the rehearsal dinner and the reception, so totals would be in the range of in excess of at least $225 for each of the couples. So would a $50 'tip' be reasonable for each of the Pastors in this case? Or would you still expect the full $300 fee?!

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    1. Including the dinner as part of the fee? Really. What about the other guests and those in the wedding party. Are they not getting the same dinner? People spend 5-20k on a wedding and then want to pay the pastor minimum wage and still feel they are being generous because they feed them just like they are feeding the rest of the guests!

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  6. Great post. This was the #1 result in Google when searching, "how to talk to wedding pastor about fee". Thanks a bunch.

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  7. Thanks Drew, I am glad you found it informative.

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  8. This was so helpful. We hire a wedding officiant about 2 months ago but about 2 weeks before the wedding I had to change the time of the rehearsal so I emailed her... No answer. I called her... No answer. It is now 4 days before the wedding and I still have not heard from her so we decided to find another one. Thank goodness my fiancé's uncle plays basketball with a wedding pastor who decided to help us out. We will not have time to go through the wedding counseling and he will not be able to make the rehearsal because he is at a Youth Camp till the night before our wedding. What would be an appropriate gift for him? I was thinking about $150, a personally made gift, and a hand written thank you card since he has pretty much saved our wedding...is that ok? I would give him a million but my budget doesn't allow it.

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  9. Anonymous - don't count the meals you are requiring pastors to be there for as part of their pay. If they were eating at home with their family they wouldn't be paying as much for the meal as you are paying for the fancy meal that you want. Given a choice the pastor would probably prefer to be at home with their family. A rehearsal dinner is work. A reception is work. the pastor is still "on" and it takes an emotional drain to remain visible in the public eye, to manage the relationships in the room, and keep conversation going at the table. You should actually count the dinner in their hourly wage and pay them to be there. :-) I often find it disturbing the comparison between what couples will pay a photographer versus what they will pay a minister. If you don't value the minister, get a justice of the peace. If you do value the minister, pay them well enough that their families don't slowly grow to resent their absence. Those who care for us in spiritual things are worthy of double honor so scripture says. Consider that when you look at your budget for a wedding and act accordingly. Your minister will be blessed...if you like, count the extra as part of your giving for the month. - Pastor for 15 years.

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    1. While I understand your reply the way it comes across is like you are bothered by doing weddings. I understand it is time away from your family but wow! You came across very harsh. :(

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  10. Thank you so much for your blog. Getting married in 2 weeks and wondering about our officiating minister pay. We are both attending this church for more than 10 years and he said...church is free to use in our wedding. This really help us. Thanks again and God bless!!!

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  11. This was very helpful. Is there still a fee you should pay a pastor if they are charging you 800.00 to a thousand to use the church? I know this fee includes counseling.

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  12. My husband is a pastor and we have been invited to the reception of a parishioner. What is the proper etiquette regarding gift giving by the pastor? Since the couple are members of the church there is no fee, but an honorarium is usually given. I always feel uncomfortable accepting such invitations because of the whole "should we also give a gift" thing.

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  13. My husband is a pastor and we have been invited to the reception of a parishioner. What is the proper etiquette regarding gift giving by the pastor? Since the couple are members of the church there is no fee, but an honorarium is usually given. I always feel uncomfortable accepting such invitations because of the whole "should we also give a gift" thing.

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  14. My husband is a pastor and we have been invited to the reception of a parishioner. What is the proper etiquette regarding gift giving by the pastor? Since the couple are members of the church there is no fee, but an honorarium is usually given. I always feel uncomfortable accepting such invitations because of the whole "should we also give a gift" thing.

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  15. Get married by a bishop, they counsel you and marry you for the right reasons, not for money.

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  16. Hi everybody,
    this is giribabu shaadimeri provides best matrimonials and marriage councellor services in india. marriage councellor

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  17. hello-
    My pastor is an old family friend- we live in OK and getting married in IL. He lives in CA and called me to offer to officiate our wedding (his wife is going also). Since I've known him & his family my whole life he said we'd have one pre-marital meeting. I have NO idea what to give him! I almost feel like he'll be offended if I try and pay him and how much would you suggest? Should I try and if he declines have a back up gift?

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  18. Thank you so much for this. My husband and I once traveled 2 hours to officiate a wedding for a casual acquaintance without as much as a dollar to pay for our gas, let alone for officiating the wedding.

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  19. What about for just an elopement ceremony? No pre-marital classes or rehrarsal, just a short and sweet ceremony. We're on a very tight budget and aren't very traditional, but I chose someone who has known my family for a long time and done, unfortunately, many funerals for my family. It's personal, and would mean a lot more to me to have him instead of a pastor we didn't know. He has seen me grow up.
    We were thinking $100 and inviting him to the family gathering afterwards( it won't really be a reception). We can't afford much else, if we could I definitely would, he's pretty much family. But I don't want to insult him either.
    Sorry this is so long. Thank you in advance!

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  20. What a great ceremony. I wish all the best for you and thanks for putting up this post.
    wedding ceremony michigan

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  21. Ok I think my wedding will be a little different than one's I see as examples.. There will be no more than 30 people, we will not be having a rehearsal dinner or reception, just a quick ceremony. I will be doing the marital counseling, but the pastor is a long time family friend. In this situation how much would be an appropriate tip? It cannot be anywhere in the $200 range as I've seen can it? We are only paying $150 to rent the church. Help!

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  22. I am a member of a church. I just got engaged and will be marrying in September. The church where I am an active member does not have a permanent building, therefore we will be getting married about an hour away from where the church is located, on the beach. The wedding will include 40 guests and no reception. What is the appropriate amount to pay the pastors? What are other fees we should pay?

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  23. I've been a minister since 1979 and I have done countless weddings. After years of getting stiffed I finally signed up with a wedding service with an agreement to do all weddings through them. I have to give them a third of the fee but they handle all the administration of it. You find out pretty quick who wants a free wedding from you. I had a casual acquaintance do me the honor of requesting me for their wedding but when I told them I'm contractually obligated to go through the service and that the fee was $300 per wedding they quickly went with someone else. By the way, if you are nieces and nephews and ask us to travel hundreds of miles to do your wedding, at least put us up for the night and pay for mileage. I understand ministers are servants but I'm not sure why the most essential and meaningful element in the ceremony receives the least pay while everything else gets 2-3 times as much.

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  24. We are not members of a church but is it possible for my brother who is a pastor to marry me and my uncle who is a pastor also to counsel us?

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  25. Here is the solution for everyone here. Find a preacher that is not hesitant to talk about fees up front. Asking the family to pay according to what they think is best is a ploy to guilt people into paying you more than you yourself think you're worth.

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  26. We are having both a pastor and a priest officiate at our wedding. There is no fee for the use of the church, since I have been a lifelong member. What should I pay the two officiants?

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  27. This is pretty informative blog on weddings! I am looking for amazing San Francisco wedding venues for my niece’s wedding in couple of months. Want to arrange a grand wedding with lovely wedding rings and surprising gifts.

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  28. Thank you for this! I recently officiated a wedding for a relative which required a substantial sum on my part with overnight stay for rehearsal dinner, new suit travel expense, etc. While I did not discuss a fee, nor did I do this for pay, it would have been nice to have had at least my travel expense and stay reimbursed. Lesson learned. From now on I will be more up front with expenses or require a fee depending on what is involved on my part.

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  29. I am curious we live out of state from my pastor and only we're able to attend one counseling session, we will not be using the church facility but the preacher will have to drive one hour for the service, we are throwing a rehearsal dinner in which I hope they get to take advantage of and stay and eat...what would a respectful gift be in a situation where we only had one session and are not using the church for the ceremony?

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  30. Curious as to what we need to pay our preacher for services, we live in a different state than my pastor therefore one counseling session was required...we also will not be using the church for the ceremony or reception, however he will have to travel 45 minutes to the ceremony site what is a respectful amount to show our appreciation for all he is doing for us?

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