One of the most memorable experiences that I have had in ministry was of a couple who wanted me to conduct a vow-renewal ceremony. This was my very first vow renewal, and I was especially eager to provide the best service I could. During our initial meeting, I informed the couple that since this was not a full wedding, I would give them a significant discount. I will never forget the response from the husband. After a long pause, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I don’t want a discount.” I would later learn that this couple had experienced some serious setbacks in their marital relationship, and this was their chance for a new beginning. The vow renewal was just as, if not more important than, the first time the couple said, “I do!” He went on, “You see, what we are doing is worth every penny; I would never think about cutting corners or discounting this moment in any way. We knew that anyone could have helped us with this type of ceremony but we wanted an experienced minister to guide us through this very important milestone.”
This was an awakening for me. While I would think that most individuals and couples would place emphasis on cost-saving measures, this couple placed greater value on their re-commitment and on the services I would provide as an experienced and qualified clergy professional.
I have read many well-intentioned and caring individuals informing those recently engaged that they don’t necessarily need a minister; and that just about anyone can do their nuptials. But isn’t asking anyone to lead such an important event akin to asking an airline pilot for medical advice?
Professional and committed clergy take the work they do seriously. We know firsthand the challenges a couple may face in their life together. Our training enables us to help our couples to navigate these sensitive issues. We bring all of our learning, education, and experience to bear in order to lead them in the public declaration of this love in sacred and holy matrimony.
When we officiate wedding ceremonies, our participation provides us a unique opportunity to bear witness to the lifetime covenant our couples make. Every word we write is one that is truly contemplated, carefully weighed, and meticulously chosen. We take time to listen to the story of a couple’s journey of love, and we enter that space with them. We share in the possibilities, in the promise, and in the vision of a lifetime of love and commitment. And we do so, believing that theirs is truly a love worthy of forever.
I would encourage every clergy professional who officiates a wedding or vow renewal ceremony to do so in all excellence, reverence, and hope, because such moments are indeed priceless and deserving of nothing less!