Don't Forget to Think About the Minister
Or Minister, Schminister !

He?s asked you to marry him. You?ve said ?yes? and visions of flowers, romance, candles and music float through your mind as you begin to prepare for THE day.

You choose your wedding site with impeccable care. It must be just right. You taste dozens of cakes to find just the perfect one. You listen to tapes of bands to select the best one in town. And dresses. Well, how many must a gal try on to find the one that has been exquisitely made just for her?

Then there?s the minister, the officiant?.the?who? Oh yeah, the person who you?ll need to marry you. Well, you can save that for later, after all they?re a dime a dozen, right? Well, yes and no. There are lots of ministers, to be sure.

There are ministers out there who will only marry you, however, if you belong to their church, or if you are both the same religion, or if you just want the standard ceremony direct from the book ( which every other couple before you has also had, by the way). Some ministers will not travel to a site separate from their church. Ministers also get booked up a year in advance by smart couples who are one step ahead of you.

So what is a Bride to do? Well, take it from this wedding minister and try thinking about your planning in a new way. What do you absolutely have to have to get married? The only person necessary to get you married is the wedding officiant or minister. Better start there and plan the rest accordingly.

Lets say you select your site, your cake, your dress?the most glorious dress on the planet, of course. You have your band all lined up, your date is set in stone?.and then you cannot find a minister who is available and willing to travel to your site? Well what you have then is?well?. just a big party planned.

My advice is to start very early on to get your minister lined up. Where do you begin? What if you are not a member of a church? What if you haven?t graced the halls of a church since your parents carried you in to be baptized ?

Fear not?there is help available. Log on to your favorite internet search engine and type in ?wedding minister?, or ?wedding officiant? and you will come upon a list of names of available oficiants in your area.

You might also check the National Association of Wedding Ministers or the National Association of Wedding Officiants, and click on your state. Better yet, click on the state you will actually be married in?that way you won?t have to pay travel costs for a minister.

Next, you should call a couple of the ministers listed and ask their fees, and their philosophies of working with their couples. Don?t forget to ask if they have your date and time available. Actually, to save time, ask that question first.

Here is a list of questions you should take with you when you meet with your minister or ministers to interview them:

1. Do you have our date available?
2. Are you ordained to perform ceremonies anywhere?
3. Are you a member of any professional wedding associations?
4. Will you perform an inter-faith or inter-cultural wedding?
5. Do you require any premarital counseling? If so, is there a fee?
6. May we write our own vows?
7. Do you provide samples of vows to us?
8. Do you meet with us to get to know us?
9. Will you travel to our wedding site? Is there a fee?
10. Do you attend our rehearsal?
11. Do you direct the rehearsal or do we need a wedding coordinator?
12. Is there a fee to direct the rehearsal?
13. How much time do you give us for the rehearsal and wedding?
14. Do you file our marriage license for us?
15. Can you advise us on how to get our marriage license?
16. Can we have a say in planning our ceremony?
17. Is your honorarium fee in line with other area officiants?
18. Will you provide us with a keepsake marriage certificate?
19. Will we be able to approve our ceremony script ahead of time?
20. Will you give us a keepsake copy of our ceremony script?
21. Do use a template or create each ceremony from ?scratch??
22. Are you aware of various wedding traditions and can you advise us?
23. How many weddings have you performed?
24. Can you advise us how to put our ceremony together?
25. Do you love what you do?

I think it is very important to have a good rapport with the individual who will be joining you in marriage. This is, after all, a life-transition moment for you, the couple, and your officiant should ?get you? so to speak. He or she should understand how you think and feel. This person should be there to serve YOU, not the other way around, in my opinion.

Lets? talk about the matter of the ministers? fee. Some couples are uncomfortable in discussing this with their officiant, but you shouldn?t be. After all, if this individual is strictly dedicated to being a wedding minister, this is how they make their living and they are typically not reluctant to have this discussion. In fact it is quite important to all parties involved..

Think about this?you might spend $800.00 on a cake, $1000.00 on a dress! So when it comes to this person who will be writing and performing your marriage ceremony, this is not the place to skimp just because of the fee. It is a temptation to ?shop? price when you are hiring a minister...but be careful?be very careful.

You want to choose the person who is an excellent speaker and communicator, you want someone who has experienced all kinds of situations during wedding ceremonies and so knows what to do.

This person should be able to touch your hearts and those of your guests because the officiant you choose will ?make or break? your actual wedding ceremony. And isn?t your wedding ceremony the purpose of the entire day?

Typically Officiants may charge, depending on the area, $350.-500.00 plus their travel costs. Included in the price is the time they spend getting to know you, crafting a beautiful ceremony, perhaps attending your rehearsal, definitely attending your wedding and performing the ceremony itself, and filing your legal documents. All these things add up to time and effort on their part.

When you pay the officiate this fee, a ?tip? is not expected?always very appreciated , but never expected.

Hopefully this will give you cause to think about the importance of your wedding minister to the success of your day and give you a guideline to help you select the person who is just right for you and your betrothed.

Many blessings??

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This article brought to you by Rev. Heather Casselberry at Telephone: 704-992-1372 or 704-995-3177