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9 Reasons Weddings Aren’t My Favorite Part of Pastoral Ministry

9 Reasons Wedding Aren't My Favorite Part of Pastoral Ministry

Over the next few months, I’m officiating at two weddings for my current students. I’m excited to help these young couples, but I (like other pastors I know) don’t always enjoy leading weddings. Here’s why:

  1. Weddings can be a lot of work. Typically, a wedding requires blocking out much of a weekend. If you add pre-marital counseling sessions on top of the wedding weekend, the time commitment is even greater.
  2. It’s hard for me to establish a set charge for a wedding, but I also sometimes receive nothing for my services. I fully understand why others consider weddings as simply part of a pastor’s job—and that’s one reason why I don’t set a fee—but the role does require additional work.
  3. Parents, step-parents, and other family members sometimes don’t get along. I’ve been in situations where I had to make sure that divorced parents and their families sat some distance from each other. You’d think folks would let go of their anger and animosity to support the couple, but that’s not always the case.
  4. Everything’s recorded now. That wasn’t the case when I started pastoring 38+ years ago. Back then, photographers took pictures, and only a small percentage of couples hired a videographer. Now, people record the event with their phones—and they capture any error the preacher makes. Our mistakes then go viral . . . .
  5. Everybody’s stressed at some level. You want the wedding day to be filled with excitement, but stress sometimes robs the couple of the joy they should experience that day. Everybody wants everything to be perfect – and the pressure mounts to accomplish that goal.
  6. There are often a lot of “moving parts” in the wedding. Large wedding parties. Musicians. Singers. Parents. Grandparents. Ring bearers and flower girls. Florists. Sound technicians. Scripture readers. Pray-ers. Ushers. Caterers. Church custodians. Every moving part is an opportunity for confusion.
  7. Family members often have multiple—and differing—suggestions for what the wedding should be. In some cases, all of them give their suggestions during the rehearsal – and the pastor can never please all of them. I’ve even led weddings with multiple wedding coordinators who disagreed with each other.
  8. I know that some commitments won’t last. No matter how hard you work to help the couple prepare for marriage, some couples will still decide to divorce at some point. It happens enough now that you begin to wonder about almost every couple you marry.
  9. Something’s likely to go wrong. It just happens. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever officiated a wedding where everything went as planned. In my own wedding, our unity candle wouldn’t light (though, we’ve now been united for more than 28 years!).

Despite my reasons above, I am honored to share this day with couples I’ve grown to love and respect. Sometimes, ministry just demands that you serve well—and the Lord blesses it. Pastors, what are your thoughts about weddings?

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.