A Look at Weddings

Among the most delightful and joyful celebrations performed by a pastor is that of a wedding, as it affords him the opportunity “to minister in a joyful and spiritual celebration for couples and their families and friends.” However, it can also turn out to be most embarrassing and disappointing for the same should certain and key guidelines be ignored and not adhered to. Accordingly, I attempt to share the following suggestions.
Purpose of a Wedding
The purpose of a Christian wedding is to unite in a legal and spiritual manner a man and a woman in holy matrimony as noted in Genesis 2:24. The legal requirement recognizes the laws of the land or a given jurisdiction which are not to be ignored, as God never advocated a disregard for the laws of the land, except for where they conflict with His laws. Spiritually, marriage is ordained of God, and a couple in “tying the knot” recognizes God and His gift of love and marriage. Therefore, a couple requests the presence of a pastor. Additionally, careful attention should be given to simplicity and affordability.

Prior to Marriage Ceremony
To call upon a pastor to perform a marriage without sufficient notice for counseling is unfair to both the pastor and the couple. The pastor is charged by God to perform diligently and honestly before God and man, and how can he/she when he/she would not have sat with the couple to counsel? The couple does an injustice to themselves and the pastor when he/she is not contacted in a timely manner. Essentially, they deny themselves the opportunity to intelligently and prayerfully examine each other’s ways and motives. Through counseling, a couple may determine that marriage with each other is not for them, and maybe there may be reasons to delay the process. So omitting counseling can have serious consequences which are likely to result in a separation and/ or divorce. Pre-marital counseling addresses subjects such as temperament, finance, family background, religious background, communication and -- where deemed necessary -- recommendation of a blood test, etc.

Legal Requirement
As marriage is not just a spiritual matter, it is necessary that all relevant forms are completed and required documents supplied to the appropriate government agency to ensure that all requirements are met prior to the actual ceremony. Of course, during the counseling, the pastor will see to it that the Application for a Marriage License form is signed and submitted by the couple to the relevant authority. The license issued is presented to the pastor who will perform the wedding, and it is used in preparing the marriage documents to be signed at the church or wherever the ceremony is held.

Church Requirement

Equally important is attention to church procedures involving use of church, permission to move furniture, use of appropriate music, and counsel regarding attire as well as availability of the sanctuary. Paying little or no attention to any of these could result in embarrassment and disappointment.

Plan in Advance
Essentially, it is necessary that a couple planning to unite in marriage sit with their pastor some time in advance to allow for all of the above mentioned to be attended to. Unfortunately, there would seem to be greater emphasis today on what one wears, guest attendance list, and where the reception may be hosted. It should be noted that simplicity and sound judgment regarding affordability are critical; for it is after the crowd would have dispersed that life for the couple begins, and unfortunately for many, it begins with significant bills that tend to stress a couple when they should be enjoying themselves and the extended honey moon. Instead, bills consume their thoughts, time and discussion. This provides a formula for frustration and, at times, for one partner to resort to various means seeking to repress the stress. The key is to plan and plan in advance.