Should Ministers Relinquish Their Wedding Credentials? Should Christians Get Married in the Back Yard?

Jason Micheli —  August 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

Three things I hate about religious work:

1.) Joel Osteen

2.) Clergy Meetings

3.) Wedding Coordinators

Actually, there’s a whole lot I don’t like about weddings, such as, the entire wedding industry. Wedding coordinators (at other churches, not mine) are very often pushy, patronizing and think they’re managing a show of which I’m a prop. Wedding coordinators aren’t the worst part of weddings. They’re only frequently the last bitter pill I have to swallow in a whole string of annoyances and, thus, they’re the ones who unfairly suffer my ire.

I hate how, for so many couples, the minister is somewhere at the bottom of the priority list when making arrangements for the ceremony. I hate that most couples nail down the caterer, photographer, DJ, wedding party, stationary and honeymoon venue before ever calling to see if I’m even available, which betrays, for all our talk about the sanctity of marriage, how most weddings are not- in the felt experience of the couple- a religious worship service.

I hate how many couples- or their parents- want to limit the “religious stuff’ in the service as much as possible, and I hate their surprised irritation when I refuse.

I hate how many couples, church members or not, Christian or not, just assume that I will perform their wedding, and I hate their surprised outrage when I say no.

And, most of all, I hate that everyone wants to sit the pastor at the ‘grandma table’ for the reception.

I’ve done a lot of weddings, and I do a good job when I do agree to do one. But to this day, the best wedding I’ve been a part of has been my own. I think it’s because, due in equal parts to our sensibilities and to our lack of money, our wedding was simple, spare and small. None of those factors kept it from being elegant or beautiful.

Friday is Ali’s and my 11th Anniversary. Since we got married, I’ve seen weddings whose price tag comes in over my annual salary. Somewhere such a wedding, I think, goes from Cana-like joy to ugly (pagan?) decadence.

It’s only natural I suppose for the next generation of couples to push back against that trend, as the article in the NY Times this Sunday highlighted, but I wonder if Christians are morally obligated to do so: to opt out of the wedding industry because its completely incongruent with vows anchored in ‘forsaking all else…’

In fact, I’ve toyed seriously over the last year with surrendering my wedding credentials, which now reside with the Clerk of Court. Doing so would mean I’m no longer able to perform ‘legal’ weddings. In other words, couples would be married in the eyes of God just not the State. Couples would have to get a justice of the peace to do that for them.

While I realize it would be another hoop for couples to jump through but would it really be any more time than, say, taste-testing wedding cake? And anyone who did jump through the hoop would be that much more likely to treat their wedding not as a prom but as a covenant.

Here’s the article from the NY Times on the trend towards simpler, smaller weddings.

Jason Micheli


No responses to Should Ministers Relinquish Their Wedding Credentials? Should Christians Get Married in the Back Yard?

  1. Our wedding . . . four good friends, our dog, Hannah, and a local Presbyterian minister we met on the day of the wedding, in the backyard of a quaint B&B in Mt. Jackson, VA. Of course there was hell to pay with the rest of our family, but they eventually forgave us.
    Your points are thought provoking, regarding the role of the Church and its clergy in the actual “ceremony” of marriage, as opposed to the much harder work of marriage that comes thereafter. Thanks for this posting. T

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