05 June, 2013


I had an encounter with someone on the telephone last night that still has me stirred up inside. I think the reason it has had me so irked is because it happens so frequently. The conversation was with someone who was wanting me to perform their wedding ceremony. Now mind you, their wedding is in less than two weeks and they just thought to get a minister to perform the ceremony and they are mad because they've contacted more than 20 ministers and everyone is busy on that date. Duh? Who'd have thought that we ministers have a life? You would not believe how many people think we are supposed to drop everything and take care of their every need. Again, remember this is someone who not only does not attend my church, they live more than an hour away from me and yet I'm supposed to drop my plans and go to where they are and perform this wedding. They say, "Isn't that what ministers do?" 
It gets even better.
It so happened that I had the date open, and while I do have plans, my plans could be altered to accommodate this wedding, but the woman was irate that I was going to charge her a fee for my services. She screamed at me, "how dare you charge for the honor of marrying us!"  I explained that to do this wedding, it was going to require meeting with the couple to discuss the wedding and plan it, that I had to take time to put the ceremony together, not to mention the expense of driving more than 60 miles to meet with them, for the rehearsal and then for the wedding. I asked her, you do realize that you are talking a total of about 400 miles of driving for this, not to mention the time involved. She thought my church should compensate me for my time and gas. So I asked her, are you doing a rehearsal dinner. They were. I asked if they were doing a reception. They were. I asked if they had a Deejay and photographer. Yes on both accounts. They also had a limo and doves to be released after the ceremony and paid singers.  So I said, "dresses, tuxes, decorations, photographer and everything involved, you probably have at least $10,000-$15,000 invested, and somehow you feel it is fitting to ask a minister to give his services freely AND foot the bills for the gas to and from there three different times. She said that indeed, she thought that was my job.  Let's just say I refused such an honor.

I know that some of you reading this would probably agree that ministers should give their service freely to all. All I can say is, "I'll bet you would not feel this way if it was your time and life!"  I'm reminded of when I met with a couple a about 2 years ago to discuss doing their wedding. I was somewhat apologetic for my fees and the man said something I will never forget. He said, "Pastor D, you don't understand. Without you, none of this happens... and your fees are the least expensive thing in this entire wedding. If anything, you are not charging enough."  I so wanted to tell that woman last night that without me (or another minister) none of her other plans mattered... but I knew it would just be thrown in my face. Somewhere, I believe people have totally lost their sense of priorities. To pay around $300 to a minister for all that they were asking is an insult in itself, especially when they are paying someone $400 to play 15 minutes of music before the wedding and another person $600 to play music at their reception. To ask the minister to do it and expect nothing and tell him he should be honored is beyond comprehension. I'm through being apologetic for my fees, and if they don't like it, then they can find someone else who wants to be "honored" with the privilege of performing their wedding. Dave was right. Without the minister, none of the rest of the events planned happens.

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