Whether you are getting married in a church or an outside venue, finding and getting the right pastor to officiate your wedding is of critical importance. But how do you ask a pastor if they will marry you? What is the right way to go about it? This is what you need to know.
So, how do you ask a pastor to officiate your wedding? It is advised to contact a church and schedule a meeting with a pastor. Have a list of proposed wedding dates and other essential questions ready for this meeting. If you feel the pastor is right for you and meet the church policies, you can then ask the question, ‘would you be my pastor at my wedding.’
It is also best to organize any appointments on days other than Sundays.
This is when pastors are typically most busy.
Calling the church ahead is always a good idea.
Besides, having a private conversation is best for everyone, especially when discussing personal details.
And no pastor will appreciate being ambushed in the middle of a post-sermon greeting!
But before even contact your local churches or ask a pastor, you may want to determine those with who you may already have connections with either through yourself or family.
Then you can research and set up those conversations.
But approaching those conversations is challenging, too.
What do you even say; where do you even start with questions? What do you need to know from them?
Let us find out!
How To Ask A Pastor If They Will Marry You
You’ll want to consider the timing in which you start your search for the right pastor to marry you.
Often couples who went through that same process will advise that you do not wait.
This is because sometimes they are not a good fit, and at other times, they are not even available.
Here is what you need to consider when asking a pastor if they will marry you.
Pastors are incredibly busy, and their church calendars are likely going to be very full.
This is especially true around any of the holidays.
What any couple should start to do is think about where they live, where the wedding will be, and what their association with religion and the church is.
If you have a wedding that is a plane ride away, looking for pastors in your area will be a waste of time.
In that case, you should start exploring your options on the internet and schedule some phone calls or zoom appointments.
Ask Yourself The Important Questions
Before you ask a pastor to marry you, you need to ask yourself some important questions first.
If you are having a local wedding and you grew up attending a specific church, this may be a good fit for you.
That is, of course, if your beliefs align with the church.
Some churches are strict by the bible, and others have different interpretations.
If you find yourself remembering that you didn’t love some aspects of your church growing up, this is a great place to start in your search.
You can’t take what you didn’t like and put that as a priority when looking at other pastors and their belief systems.
You may think, why can’t we tell the pastor what we want to happen?
Well, you can to a degree, but usually, a pastor will include some sort of his or her religious beliefs into the ceremony.
You want them to stand for similar values that you do.
Attend a Service
You may want to attend a church service before even introducing yourself or asking the pastor questions.
While if it is a small church, you may stick out, so introductions or a heads up is a great thing.
Going in to observe naturally is a good way to see what the pastor and the church are all about.
Sometimes guests can be surprised at different church attendings for what a church may stand for.
This can go both ways as a pleasant surprise and as an unpleasant surprise.
Seeing how the pastor interacts with its members can give you a lot of information and possibly answer some questions before the first meet and greet.
Suppose you decide you like a particular pastor; consider when you ask them.
You’ll want to have enough time to make an introduction and explain that you are getting married.
Now in your introduction, you are not asking if they will marry you.
You are going to ask if they have time to sit down and talk with you as a couple about officiating a wedding.
If you ask this right after Sunday Service and tons of people are approaching the pastor.
It may be better to call back later or come again at another time.
You’ll want 2-3 minutes to make this introduction.
Or, of course, you could contact the church via their communications channels. It could be a phone call, a letter, or an email.
That being said, face-to-face introductions are generally best, if possible.
Questions To Ask A Pastor
Now is essentially the interview part.
There are a lot of questions that a couple should consider asking a pastor.
Not every single question will apply to every couple, but here is a full list of questions that you should find yourselves asking at least a few of them.
This process is similar to how you will interview a bakery, florist, wedding planner, etc.
Have You Officiated A Wedding Before?
Asking them if they have ever married another couple is a good place to start.
While the answer is likely yes, you’d be surprised to hear that some simply have not, possibly because of certain religious restrictions.
You can follow this question up with how did it go? Did you enjoy it?
Have Long Would The Ceremony Be?
Another great question.
Some couples want to keep things short and sweet, but a pastor may have a certain dialogue that keeps things a little too long for your liking.
If you’d like it to be longer or shorter, just ask if that is a possibility.
Is It Scripted Or Personal?
Some pastors will read off a script, while others will always keep it personal.
This may depend on the relationship you have with the pastor or the pastor’s willingness to get to know you as a couple from the time you meet to the time you get married.
You can always ask for what you prefer.
A good follow-up is to ask if you can write your own vows or they want you to use what they plan.
How Many Meetings Will We Have?
This goes with how much time they will spend with you.
Sometimes a pastor will tell the couple how many times they want to meet the couple, and sometimes they leave it entirely up to the soon-to-be-newlyweds.
What Are Your Fees?
Surprisingly to some but pastors are working outside their normal office hours when they come to a wedding, so a fee is quite normal.
In fact, when you decide to ask the pastor to be a part of your wedding, you should send them a special invitation or treat them like any of the other wedding party members.
Can Any Pastor Officiate A Wedding?
The better question is can any pastor officiate any wedding. Technically, no. There are a lot of religious constraints that may not allow a particular pastor to officiate your wedding.
Sometimes it is as simple as not being a member of their church.
Other times it may be because you and your fiancé have different religious backgrounds.
Some religions prohibit same-sex marriage.
These are the kinds of things you will want to look into before even starting the interview process.
What To Expect From A Pastor Officiated Wedding
Most of this should be worked out in the interview and pre-interview research, but having said that, this is the general basis for what happens with a pastor-officiated wedding.
There are general themes, rituals, and practices that occur when you choose a religious member of the church rather than a family friend.
This is the big thing.
If you do not want to rely on religion for your wedding, you may want to think twice about having a pastor officiate your wedding.
Some will be more religious than others, but religion in itself will be tied into the vows, most likely and the pastor’s speech as they marry you.
It may be a no-brainer, but some couples are surprised to hear that the pastor simply does not just show up for the ceremony and go home.
Often, they are invited to the wedding.
It is courteous to give them a plus one.
Especially if they are not local and will not know a lot of people at your wedding.
This is something that will differ from your florist or your bakery. They are more part of your wedding party than they are a vendor to you.
Take Your Time
It may seem like committing to a pastor is not a particularly challenging thing to do.
For some, it isn’t – especially if they already have a pastor in mind or an existing relationship with them.
However, for most of us, it can be confusing and something that is tough to envision and approach.
Nevertheless, identifying, choosing, and meeting with your pastor is one of the more important things during wedding planning that deserves some priority.
The pastor will be the most involved in arguably the most significant part of your big day.
You’ll want to make sure the wording is right and the vibe, if you will, fits yours!
It’s natural to interview a few candidates, so don’t feel bad if the first few don’t work out.
Not all pastors’ religious beliefs or ceremonies will fit exactly with what you are looking for.
This can be even more true if you are having a wedding destination and the religion is typically different in that area than where you grew up.
Regardless of that, make sure to do your research and do not be afraid of asking the tough questions!
Oh and don’t forget the costs!
Other guides you may want to read:
- How Much Do You Pay A Pastor For Wedding? [Should You Tip?]
- How To Get Married In A Church You Don’t Belong To
- How Long Is A Church Wedding? [What To Expect]
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!