Post # 1
I have an issue with our officiant and I need the Hive’s advice. Although my mom is very religious, my fiance and I aren’t, so I knew I needed a spiritual marginally Christian minister that could accommodate all our beliefs: Unitarian Universalist was perfect. I looked at the local church websites and emailed one minister, who I thought would work for us. My fiance loves her because he thinks she is really easy to talk to and wants her to marry us, but here are my issues with her: We have now met with her twice (for 2 hrs each time!) and each time instead of talking about how great our relationship is (we have been together 4 yrs and lived together for 2 and all our friends think we’re such a great couple) and the wedding ceremony, she ended up probing us about the strains of our relationship. She particularly liked my fiance to talk about his issues with marriage in general and the difficulty in being raised in a broken family (or at least they seemed to come up). We also talked about the issues of living together and how difficult it is. I ended up feeling really guilty that my fiance takes care of the house details because I’m in medical school. She ended up giving me advice on how to be a better living mate. My fiance thinks I’m crazy for thinking about switching ministers after such time, but I feel like she doesn’t really like us (even though she says she does) or that she doesn’t have a really positive view of our relationship. My other issues with her: her fee is very high ($500 for Boston is about twice the average) and we read some of her past ceremony scripts and I didn’t like them (meaning I would have to write basically most of what I want in the ceremony myself.) Our wedding is 4 months away and I hate the idea of having to find another officiant. Do you think I should find another officiant because I don’t feel comfortable with her or I don’t think she thinks highly of us? Or am I being a crazy bridezilla??! Thanks for your help in advance!!
Post # 3
i would start looking for a new one asap. (find a new one before you let her know you’re going with someone else.) $500 seems ridiculous to me. You aren’t being crazy or a bridezilla — if she is making you uncomfortable, then get out now while you can!
Post # 4
Yes find yourself another officiant!!!! You are not comfortable and then on top of it would be writing most of your own ceremony, that is not how it should be. Girl, find another officiant as soon asap…trust your instinct. On your big day when you look up at an officiant you trust, you will be so glad you did
All the best to you!!!!!!!!
Post # 5
I would also suggest looking for another officiant. This is the person who is going to marry you so you need to feel comfortable with them. If you don’t it will not only reflect in the ceremony, but in the overall feel of the wedding. Best of luck!
Post # 6
We also had a terrible time finding an officiant – went through five possibilities before finding the one we have now. So I completely support the idea of looking, even interviewing, until you find someone you think is right for you.
That said, I’m not sure you’re going to find what you think you want, unless you get someone who is not a pastor. Most religeous officiants are going to require some sort of pre-marital counseling. Most pre-marital counseling is going to focus on the potential issues in your relationship – the things that would be likely to make it fail – and how to to make the relationship more likely to succeed. Things like – money and how its handled; division of housekeeping chores; the myriad of issues surrounding children and family (his and yours). If you are uncomfortable talking about these things, then that is actually the point of talking about them – they are trying to get you to consider the issues in your relationship, and hopefully give you the tools to solve them appropriately.
It sounds to me as if both your and your FI have issues. It sounds like you are uncomfortable talking about them, or even perhaps thinking too much about them. Its nice to focus on the good things about your relationship, but once you are married, all the things that are not quite so good (his issues about marriage in general, your guilt about him doing more at home) are still going to be there, unless or until you somehow work through them. That is what pre-marital counseling is pretty much about – giving you the tools you need to succeed.
If you really want an officiant who will just write a pretty ceremony, stand up and recite the words you like, and not actually care whether you’re on the verge of divorce in a year or two, they are out there. From what I’ve read on this site, they generally cost a lot more than the typical donation to a pastor (I’ve seen $800 to $1000). I guess that if I was you I would think about talking to your officiant about your concerns, maybe even doing that privately (without your FI) and seeing what she has to say, because I wonder if its not actually the officiant but the whole pre-marital counseling process that you are having a problem with.
I would also encourage you to talk more about the issues that upset you and make you feel uncomfortable or guilty with your FI. Hopefully you will find that talking about them helps you (and him) to come to some resolution. My FI and I thought we had already talked through lots of these types of issues – he is divorced, and really values communication, as he thinks that is a big part of what was missing in his first marriage. But our pastor has brought up a few issues that we really hadn’t talked enough about. And – predictably enough – we spend most of our time talking about the stuff we haven’t really worked out. Our pastor isn’t as interested in the stuff that’s just wonderful – because we don’t actually need to work on any of that. He’s interested in getting us talking (between the two of us, perhaps more than to him) about the stuff we still need to work out.
Post # 7
i was always under the impression that the meetings are for the officiant getting to know you and premarital counseling, and you would work on the ceremony outside of those meetings. i think this is pretty standard.
that being said, you sound a little (a lot) uncomfortable with your officiant, so if you think that will change your perspective of the ceremony, definitely get someone else. however, i do think that no matter which officiant you choose, if you have these underlying issues, they will come out in premarital counseling (that’s the point). it’s not supposed to make you feel bad, it’s supposed to make you recognize that these issues are there.
fyi, we’re paying almost 1000 for an officiant to marry us. for what we want (an interfaith ceremony from scratch that’s almost non-denominational), this is the going rate. a standard ceremony is more like 600.
Post # 8
Thanks for the advice! And so quickly!! This is why I posted this question, bc I agree with the first couple of posts (that I deep down want to switch officiants), but I have some doubts that this is part of the normal process as suzanno suggests and will occur with any officiant.
suzanno has a pt in saying that this is what pre-marital counseling is about. no one really wants just a pretty ceremony, but how can you have anything deeper than that if you don’t regularly go to church? afterall, how much time do you really have to spend with this new person. they can’t really catch up on a deep relationship and all those intimacies/intricacies in a short time. or can the right officiant do that?
our ceremony site requires a religious officiant (which is kind of problematic for non-religious people like us). However, why is it that ministers have to only bring out the issues you didn’t know existed–does this really say something about your relationship or does it say something about the relationship between your minister and you as a couple. i mean, we’ve been together for a long time and have spent hours and hours talking about these same issues. But somehow when someone else, who is basically a stranger, is there, they seem to come out differently then when it’s just the two of you. It might not be a given, but in my family at least, marriage is a really big deal (lots of divorce makes you think twice about getting married without some consideration). My fiance and I have gone over all these issues–money, kids, chores, future, family, etc. We have issues, but none we haven’t addressed ourselves and come to some conclusion over. however, our conclusions didn’t across as healthy or normal to the minister and she wanted to make suggestions and I guess I felt uncomfortable.
I am wondering if these types of conversations are normal for officiant meetings. We are not members of her church (and don’t really plan to be since we live in NY, but are getting married where our familes live). My fiance says that since I’ve never been to therapy, I don’t really get the whole concept of talking about personal issues with a semi-stranger. but i am prone to thinking that it is unrealistic to think an officiant can really help you avoid divorce down the line by bringing up issues. the response that a minister /therapist illicits is different than one that your mate does. right?
i guess i want someone talking about us at the ceremony who has only good opinions of our relationship. but, our minister says that it is better to see the flaws, bc that makes her closer to us and have more faith in our ability to be a couple. what do you think beehive? is it better to have someone who knows some of your blemishes or someone who (superficilially) thinks you’re great? this is where my fiance and i disagree.
Post # 9
"We have now met with her twice (for 2 hrs each time!) and each time instead of talking about how great our relationship is (we have been together 4 yrs and lived together for 2 and all our friends think we’re such a great couple) and the wedding ceremony, she ended up probing us about the strains of our relationship."
This is what good ministers do. I can see how perhaps to you it seems that she’s just making you feel guilty or telling you that you’re bad, but she’s not. I’ve had many relationships with various pastors, counselors, etc, and with the good ones, they show you that they love you by finding the "sore spots" in your life and attempting to heal them. Maybe you don’t click particularly well with this particular minister, but I’d be worried if she was NOT doing this.
And yes, issues brought up between couples in front of counselors always seem different than in private. You feel more exposed, and I’ve noticed that I can see myself being immature or silly in my arguments more easily when FI and I are talking with our counselor. But it’s SO SO good for you. I highly recommend premarital counseling for ANYONE getting married, religious background or not. Don’t wait until you’re screwed up enough to notice! Go now and hammer out the issues when they’re small. It is honestly the best thing my FI and I have done with our relationship.
Post # 10
sorry, commenting twice, but this is an issue close to my heart!
"i guess i want someone talking about us at the ceremony who has only good opinions of our relationship. but, our minister says that it is better to see the flaws, bc that makes her closer to us and have more faith in our ability to be a couple. what do you think beehive? is it better to have someone who knows some of your blemishes or someone who (superficilially) thinks you’re great? this is where my fiance and i disagree."
Flaws are what make us real. They are what make a good couple poignant and beautiful. Personally, I would never ever ever want to have someone perform my wedding ceremony who just thought me and FI were great, our relationship was perfect, etc. I would feel like a hypocrite and a liar. I want my family and his family to know that our wedding is the joining of two flawed people, and that we are overcoming our weaknesses and our mistakes.
Also, just because she is bringing hard things up doesn’t mean she doesn’t have good opinions on your relationship. Talk to her about it. If she’s any kind of good minister at all, she will be concerned that you think that, and will help you to see the good things as well.
Post # 11
I will see myself in the same situation soon. We have to meet with our officiant three times before the wedding. The thing is: the church we’re getting married in is the ONLY church my FI will get married in (he’s not religious in the least, and since this is the church he grew up going to, he said that would be the only church he’d get married in if we were to have a church wedding…) The preacher there is new to the church, so we’re going to meet with him… and my FMIL said that he will ask us what the biggest hurdle in our relationship is/will be; and he will try to talk us out of getting married… Not only that, but we aren’t allowed to mention to him that we live together! I’m all for being polite, but I do not want to lie to a preacher that is marrying us! It just seems completely wrong.
I asked why he would even try talking us out of getting married, but apparently, a lot of preachers do that… As a way for us to "make sure" we want to get married. I just want the guy to marry us! I didn’t know this was going to be like the movie License to Wed!
Anyway, if I were you, I would try to get someone else (if at all possible). But… if this woman is the only one that will be able to marry you at the particular place you want to get married, you might just have to suck it up. It looks like I’m going to have to…
Good luck, and let us know what you decide!
Post # 12
I don’t think that they are actually trying to "talk you out" of getting married. I think the point is more to play Devil’s Advocate. I know it is uncomfortable to talk to a stranger about issues like this, but a good counselor/minister is honestly not trying to make you feel bad or guilty or make you call off your wedding. They’re just trying to show you another point of view or something that you haven’t thought about before. And maybe since you’ve never been to individual therapy, it might help you to become more comfortable with the whole situations if you went to a few sessions with a therapist/counselor alone. I’m definitely not trying to say that you need therapy (please don’t be offended), but as someone who has been to A LOT of therapy, it is a very different way of talking and thinking of things, and it might make you a little more comfortable with the process.
And, if in the course of pre-marital counseling, you and your FI come across some issues that you don’t agree on/weren’t aware of, I firmly believe that discussing them will only make you feel closer to each other.
So, basically my point is, don’t freak out and think that your pastor is trying to break you up. She’s not. She’s just trying to help you.
Post # 13
We talk about things that I’m not always comfortable with in our premarital counselling sessions (especially not with someone I don’t know well sitting in the room). But EVERY time, she just encourages us to have those conversations by ourselves, too. She knows there are things we’re just not going to say to her because it isn’t her that we’re marrying. The point of premarital counselling is to prepare for marriage, not the wedding. Hopefully, that’s what she’s trying to do. She doesn’t have to think all good things about every decision you guys have made as a couple. She’s just supposed to prepare you for what’s ahead, and officiate the wedding.
If you truly feel undermined and farther from your fiance as a result, I say go with someone else. But if you think it’s just because you’re uncomfortable/not used to what your fiance is, and what your officiant feels she’s supposed to be doing, then try to have an open mind about it.
Post # 15
I have known my FI for 22 years. We were very good friends, carpooled to work, and shared an office. For 10 years we lived in different states, but still kept in close touch. We have been officially dating for 2 1/2 years, and engaged for 6 months. We would honestly have told you that we thought we had talked about everything, and understood each other really well. But our pastor is amazing in finding not only those things we have talked about but haven’t resolved, and some things we never thought to talk about, but also those things we thought we agreed on but really don’t. I am amazed at some of the things I hear come out of FI’s mouth in response to the pastor’s questions – and I know he has been pretty surprised at a little of what I have had to say.
And again, I think that’s part of the point. If you embrace the process, then you do a lot more talking between sessions. The thing is, if you feel guilty about something like division of housekeeping responsibilities, and you don’t talk about it and work it out, it is eventually going to undermine your relationship. If you can actually identify and resolve some issues in premarital counseling, that should give your officiant a much better opinion of you as a couple than if you manage to pretend that you have a perfectly rosy relationship – because that’s not true of anybody. Your officiant isn’t going to get up at the ceremony and tell everybody that your FI has issues about marriage, or that you let him do all the housework because you’re so wrapped up in your education or career. She’s going to talk about the strengths she sees in your relationship, the way you support each other, the love and understanding you have for each other, and part of the way you demonstrate that is by not being afraid to confront and resolve your issues, and by being able to love each other even though you’re both not perfect.
I don’t think that your pastor helping you to identify the issues that exist, and encouraging you to talk about them, shows that she doesn’t have a good opinion of your relationship. I think it shows that she’s trying to help you make the best relationship you can. And you say yourself, that perhaps you prefer someone who just superficially thinks you are perfect. I don’t actually think you are going to find that. You can get an officiant who wants to get to know you, and can say some very real and personal things about your relationship, or you can hire someone in for the day and pay them to say whatever you want. They won’t think you’re perfect – they just won’t know you at all. I’m sure you can find someone like that, but I’m pretty sure you won’t find them in the clergy.
Post # 16
Hi beanbride –
Here’s an officiant’s perspective: I’m currently in an ordination process; I’ve performed two weddings and am about to perform a third. Some people are really surprised when I say that I require anyone I marry (even my best friend) to get outside premarital counseling before I perform a wedding.
Some officiants are content with just showing up, saying some pretty words and getting paid. In my opinion, a good officiant genuinely wants to help your relationship mature and evolve. Like someone else said, this is about a marriage, not just a wedding. It sounds like that’s what she’s trying to do with your premarital counseling sessions. I’m not sure why someone can’t simultaneously see your flaws and think that you’re wonderful at the same time. I’m sure you and your fiance are able to see each other’s flaws and still love each other. As someone else said, it’s working through your issues that will make you a stronger couple.
If I were you, I’d be honest with her about how you’re feeling about the process and see what she says.
As for the fee, that actually sounds inexpensive. If she’s already met with you for 4 hours and she’s going to keep meeting with you and then perform your wedding, the cost per hour is way less than even a florist.
As for the ceremony, that’s a separate issue, and you deserve to have a ceremony that is meaningful to you and to your values. Is she willing to incorporate passages or rituals from other ceremonies that you’ve seen and find meaningful?
I just got engaged myself, and I can’t believe that my first comment on weddingbee is from an officiant’s perspective. I’m sure obsessing over bridesmaids’ dresses or something else will come for me in time.
Best of luck with these discussions!