Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“We Just Want a Quick Ceremony”

Next to “We don’t want anything special.”, this is my favorite comment from couples who call me looking for a wedding minister. I’m not sure what they mean, but it seems to mean “We don’t want to pay much.” I understand about the money, but I still have these questions:

“Do you want me to take the time to make sure I am properly groomed and dressed?” My wife and I attended a funeral where the priest didn’t do this, and it was very disappointing.

“Should I take the time to make sure I have accurate contact numbers for both of you and the venue, and that I have several versions of accurate driving directions?” (Sometimes even my GPS tries to lead me astray!)

“Do you want me to leave extra time to travel, in case traffic is bad or some other unexpected thing occurs?”  (Usually I double the travel time to make sure I’m not late.)

“Are you saying it’s OK to come at the last minute?” Usually I arrive early in case you have any questions, or there are any problems with the DJ, readers, rings, license, candles, flower girls, microphone or the way the venue has set up for the ceremony.

“Will it be fine to meet you just before we begin?” And, keep in mind, I won’t really have time to converse with you, or to meet or speak to your parents, friends or family. To me this seems very impersonal.

“Can you guarantee that the ceremony will start right on time?” It’s really not “quick” if I have to wait twenty or thirty minutes for the ceremony to begin because there aren’t enough guests there yet, or because we’re waiting for DJ, the flowers, the chartered bus, your favorite aunt, the groom's father, or you to show up.

“Will it be OK if I leave right after the ceremony is over?” Please understand, this will mean I won’t be able to find you and congratulate you, or interact with your guests in any way. Hopefully they won’t see me rushing off and think “This was like a drive by.”

Finally, where is your ceremony?” If it’s on Shelter Island or on the Brooklyn Bridge or in the Bronx, then even though it may be “quick” for you, it will hardly be quick for me because of all the logistics. If you think for a moment about this from my perspective, you’ll see right away that a wedding that is two hours away and involves two bridge tolls and metro parking will cost more than one that is conveniently close to my starting location no matter how long the ceremony itself is.

I completely understand the way the money keeps flowing out of your hands as the wedding approaches! It’s expensive, that’s for sure, and I’m sympathetic. It wasn’t that long ago that I experienced that myself. But the ceremony sets the tone for the day. It’s at the heart of your entire celebration. When it’s bad, you’ll be trying to dig out of a hole for the next five hours. When it’s good, you’ve created a magical momentum that flows into the rest of the celebration. (To say nothing of the lasting memories.) That’s what I want for you, and why I bring this up.

Your wedding will be one of the most important days of your life, and it’s a most personal day. What I want to do with you is approach the planning of it in a most personal way. It may be “short and sweet” or not. It may be traditional or not. It may be religious or not. But hopefully we can agree that it shouldn’t suck. That seems like a good minimal goal. And for your ceremony not to suck, we’re going to have to invest some time in preparing for it and then in the execution of it.

So then, how much for a quick ceremony?

You tell me.

Pastor Bill serves families in the Greater New York area including Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County), Queens, Brooklyn, New York City (Manhattan), and Westchester County. If you’re thinking of using a Judge for your wedding, or a Justice of the Peace – or if you’re thinking of going to city hall for your wedding – or perhaps you’re working on a last minute wedding plan – in any case, Pastor Bill would love to speak with you. Pastor Bill is also available for families that have suffered the loss of a loved one and are planning a funeral.

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