Post # 1
Hi! New to the board – need help in a potentially awkward situation. 6 months ago we asked a minister to marry us who baptized me (the groom) many years ago. This minister retired many years ago from the United Methodist church that I (the groom) went to for 18 years. I haven’t seen him in years but thought it would be a nice continuity.
Full disclosure – neither the bride nor I are particularly religious now. We believe but don’t attend one church regularly. We went to the officiant’s home this past week with the idea that we would discuss the ceremony and collaborate on what we wanted. We were a bit surprised when he pulled out a photocopy of the ceremony he’s used since the 1960’s. He was seemingly unwilling to deviate. The ceremony is very traditional and isn’t what we were hoping for. He was even unwilling to incorporate a poem about the parallels of dog ownership and love (we are having our dog in the wedding).
Since the minister is a family aquaintence, it could get a little awkward firing him – but it is our day and we had something more modern in mind. I feel bad because it was my family who suggested him. Our wedding is coming up soon. Any suggestions on how to proceed?
Post # 2
You’re going to have to be honest with him. October is right around the corner. Tell him the truth and start looking around FAST for another officiant.
Post # 3
I would be looking for another officiant and once you find one just explain to the family friend as much as you would love him to be the one to marry you you and your partner pictured something a little different for your big day and felt he wasn’t comfortable with that. He can’t expect you to accept his older traditional way of doing things if you aren’t comfortable.
Post # 4
I would secure another officiant before you actually say anything. When you do, just be honest. He’s not willing to compromise and it’s not what you envisioned for your day.
Post # 5
What the others said. Also, are you talking about Taylor Mali’s poem? I wanted that in my ceremony, too, but it was too long and I had to kick it out. Great poem though.
Post # 6
Fire him! You want the ceremony to reflect YOU!
Post # 7
You are certainly allowed to look for someone more in line with your vision, but this minister is not being unreasonable. Many religions view marriage as a sacrament. If it’s not done according to their rules, it’s not a valid sacrament and they would be participating in a sham of their beliefs. I’m an atheist, so I am definitely not saying their way is the right way, I’m just saying if you want a religious officiant, you are probably going to have to do it their way. If you want to customize the ceremony and have it reflect “us” as a couple rather than the church that’s solemnizing it, you’re probably going to have to hire a professional for-profit officiant. I agree with the PP who said get the new one lined up before you decline the first one though, just in case.
Post # 8
Ok, So I had a situation similar. I wanted to get married in the Presbyterian Church and in order to get married in this church I had to use their minister (not my home town). We agreed, and the minister we had was literally almost 90. He used a very traditional ceremony and wouldnt deviate which I respected and thought I would just comprise and move on… However, he ended up being the most stressful part of my wedding. He actually yelled at my wedding coordinator during our rehersal when she was just doing her job and then that night refused to allow any photography during the ceremony which was not previously discussed and NOT what I wanted at all but at that point didnt have a choice as he said he would stop the ceremony. I am still upset to this day that I dont have beautiful ceremony pictures… I say if you dont like him during this meeting you should find someone else while you still can!
Post # 9
I mean, you asked a minister to perform a religious sacrament. You don’t really get to dictate those things in a religious ceremony.
Are you getting married in a church or somewhere else? I would probably book a non religious officiant if you want to call the shots.
I had a Catholic wedding and was allowed to pick a few bible verses from a list but the Priest has full control over the ceremony. That’s just how it is. Even the music had to be approved. They gave me a list of about 5 songs and told me to pick one.
Post # 10
I was raised in the Methodist Church and attended regularly until I converted to another religion for my husband. I would just like to squash any comments from people saying the minister can’t deviate from the traditional service- that is simply not true. My husband and I were married in a church where you cannot make any changes to the service whatsoever. This is not the case in the UMC.
Our closest family friend is a UMC minister and performs dozens of weddings per year. She tailors the weddings to each couple. Obviously there are certain rules you HAVE to abide by (at the end of the day, yes it is a religious ceremony so you can’t take God out of it lol) BUT as a Methodist minister, it is truly at HIS discretion whether or not he’s comfortable doing a more modern ceremony (our friend recently performed a wedding where she talked about the bride and groom’s love for dinosaurs… somehow she tied it back to God but I honestly don’t remember how she did it 🤷🏼♀️) That being said, what he’s comfortable doing is up to him. If his way of doing things doesn’t align with your vision, tell him- and tell him now. It’s an uncomfortable conversation but you need to do it! Good luck!
Post # 11
It sounds like you scheduled a service that is not the service you want. A religious minister is generally only going to preform a wedding within the bounds of their religion, which very well can be a word-for-word ceremony that can not be altered. You want a customized ceremony. If your wedding is in October then there should still be time to cancel this service.
Post # 12
I was typing (and getting distracted) while PP were posting. If that’s the case then as long as you aren’t asking him to deviate from the requirements then I don’t have any advice.
Post # 13
To me, the most important part of a wedding ceremony is that the bride and groom are feeling the spirit of the ritual. If your officiant isn’t willing to work with you as you’ve requested, that impacts your ability to be in the spirit of the ritual and therefore he isn’t the right officiant for you.
I’d look for someone else who is a better fit asap, and then let him know that you appreciate his willingness to perform your wedding but that you’ve found someone who is a better fit for you and your bride.
Also- any awkwardness that arises from your family as a result of this, you need to be the one to manage.
Post # 14
My fiancé and I are getting married at an Episcopal church (because it’s a gorgeous gothic cathedral on top of a hill, and incidentally where I was baptized), so we use their officiant and play by their rules. We are not particularly religious either (we go to church at Easter and that’s it), and were upfront about it during our sessions with the officiant, and he was cool with it. It helps that this happens to be one of the most liberal and chill congregations I know. If they had been stuffier about it and pushed a bunch of traditions we didn’t like/agree with, we might have gone with a different venue for the ceremony. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and we were fine with the stock ceremony.
OP, if you want to find a different officiant that’s still religious, maybe consider an Episcopal one – the Episcopal marriage sacrament has been updated to equalize the roles of the sexes and make it work with modern society. Our officiant laid out the rites for us and explained them and the history and evolution of them and it was super interesting and even something my not-religious self can get behind.
I’m not sure how I’d handle the situation with the current officiant, though.
Post # 15
I would get a new officiant. He or she will set the tone for your whole wedding. He or she is HIRED by you to do what you ask, within reason. Sounds like he is a fuddy duddy about things and is unbending.