Ever since I’ve retired from pastoral ministry, I’ve been doing a lot of weddings. I use a couple of websites as clearing houses (so to speak) to put myself out there before the public. People who are in between pastors (or don’t care to have one at all) occasionally seek out my services.
Sometimes, the wedding descriptions people give are either hilarious, incredible, or just plain hard to swallow. Reading them makes me wonder why they’re going through the process at all. It also makes me wonder if some of them even consider it to be “holy matrimony.”
“There is no Wedding
Recently, one guy posted his desire for an officiant to do his ceremony by saying the following: “There is no wedding…just the two of us getting married.” That one definitely gave me pause. I think I know what he meant, but it seems to me that getting married IS a wedding.
Another memorable one came when I quoted my fee to a prospective groom. I would have had to travel quite a distance, perform the service, and (of course) take care of the legalities. Because it was a small wedding, he balked at my price and answered, “Gee! It’s really just a formality.” I didn’t bother pursuing it any further, but I felt like saying, “If it’s just a formality, you don’t want me.”
To me, wedding ceremonies are a big deal. They’re such a big deal to my way of thinking that I wrote an entire book about them (The Last Wedding). Weddings are Biblically important. Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John as performing his first miracle at a wedding reception (changing water into wine). If he thought it was important enough to do that, I’m guessing it was more than a mere formality in his mind.
“I’m not the Caterer”
I’ve never kept track of all the wedding ceremonies I’ve celebrated over the years, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the hundreds. It doesn’t matter how many people are there. If it’s just the couple and me, or if it’s done in the presence of hundreds of people, it’s still the same to moi (and, I suspect, to the Lord). My part in the ceremony doesn’t change with the number of people in the congregation. I’m not the caterer.
If it sounds like I’m whining a bit, I suppose I am. It just kind of irks me that people don’t take their vows before the Lord a tad more seriously. The most common ceremony request is that it be “short and sweet” (as if they were paying me by the hour). Wedding ceremonies are typically quite short anyway, but people seem bent on getting right to the reception. (I know–now I’ve moved past the whining and have gone right to complaining.)
I suppose I could start charging more by the minute–but in reverse. The shorter the service, the higher the fee. I’m sure that would be counterproductive, but it’s quite tempting. I don’t think anyone would go for it, though.