>We are in the middle of a snowstorm here in Kirksville, so I’m in a bit of a silly, giddy mood. Here is another bit of humor for my clergy friends!

If Clergy Could Bill for Weddings like Physicians
by Kirkepiscatoid

Recent studies show that the average wedding has increased not only in price, but complexity, in the last four decades; unfortunately, although weddings can now run in the tens of thousands of dollars, couples still seem to think that $25 or $50 slipped in the officiating clergy person’s hand is sufficient payment for services rendered. This document is a more realistic breakdown of the complete gamut of services rendered by clergy in wedding participation. Clergy are encouraged to create a base fee for “unit of service” and in this billing sheet, consider the top item in each category as the “basic unit of service.” As you work down the levels of each category in the Clergy Encounter Form for each category, we have provided a suggested increase in unit of service for each level of clergy encounter. Circle the units of service for each category as applicable. Then, simply add the units of service times your base fee for a single unit of service and present the bill to the happy couple, making checks payable to your discretionary fund.

Clergy Wedding Encounter Form

Part A. Pre-Nuptial Counseling

Units of Service and Description of Encounter

1 Unremarkable counseling experience for couple and clergy

2 Couple seems ignorant or unaware counseling required; thought they wanted to get married there “because it’s a cute little church” or “they wanted to get married at the Cathedral,” etc.

2 Unremarkable counseling experience for clergy; minor issues discovered by couple that were easily resolved in session(s)

2 Minor blow-up between couple with minimal clergy consternation

3 Unremarkable/minor issues for couple; clergy begins to get sick feeling tip of iceberg has been touched on major issue but couple seems to blow this issue off

3 Moderate issues between couple uncovered in counseling with no additional sessions required

4 Moderate or major issues uncovered in counseling requiring additional sessions or postponement of wedding date

5 One or both of couple bursts into tears, runs crying/screaming from rectory, squeals off in car, possibly leaving one of the couple crying in front of clergy

_____ Other counseling mishap, not otherwise specified (please document)

Note: If either “5” is circled, or a NOS mishap carries a value of “5” or greater, submit billing. Pray they do not suddenly make up and find a Justice of the Peace or take a trip to Las Vegas.

Part B: Pre-wedding Planning

B1: The Bride
Units of Service and Description of Encounter

1 Normal mature female

2 Naive, blushing, possibly virginal

2 Slightly immature in chronological and/or psychological age

2 Normal with somewhat annoying parent(s)

2 Slightly bossy

3 Pregnant

3 Normal with “helicopter” parents

3 Seems to think wedding is “all about me” but parents relatively normal

4 Spoiled with indulgent and/or “helicopter” parents

4 Seems to think wedding is “all about me”; parents indulgent; tend not to challenge bride

4 Unaware she is being grossly abused or manipulated by betrothed

5 Bridezilla

B2: The Groom
Units of Service and Description of Encounter

1 Normal mature male

2 Nerdy/geeky, possibly virginal

2 Slightly immature in chronological and/or psychological age

2 Normal with somewhat annoying parent(s)

2 Relatively normal but appears to be thinking with his “little head” rather than his “big head” about some issues

3 Normal with mother who does not think betrothed is “good enough for her son”

3 Seems somewhat absent, distant, or unwilling to challenge bride-to-be on plans

4 Parents running the show; groom-to-be just shrugs and looks sheepish

4 Combative with betrothed, parents from either side, or clergy

4 Unaware he is being grossly abused or manipulated by betrothed

4 Unaware bride-to-be is pregnant

5 Flaming southbound end of northbound horse

Part C: The rehearsal/rehearsal dinner
Units of Service and Description of Encounter

1 Goes off without a hitch

2 Minor last minute changes and/or issues

2 Issues with small children

3 Seating chart(s) definitely need to be changed, most likely due to “ex-es”

3 Issues with really poorly behaved small children

3 Clergy has to explain to couple that songs with vague or overt references to nookie are generally not appropriate for a wedding

4 Hazard pay for dealing with overly drunken/stoned members of wedding party or clergy required to break up verbal altercation

5 Full blown hissy fit by any member of wedding party or clergy required to break up physical altercation

6 Law enforcement personnel called, or relative offers clergy large sum of money to refuse to perform the service

Part D: The Wedding (NOTE: Unlike parts A-C, and E, circle ANY and ALL service levels that apply rather than “best level of service”)
Units of Service and Description of Encounter

1 Beautiful, touching and/or meaningful

2 Beautiful and touching but someone committed minor flub or children in service got flustered

2 Annoying photographer

2 Bad Soloist

2 Annoying parents/relatives/members of wedding party except bride/groom

3 Annoying bride/groom

3 Annoying photographer who totally ignored clergy instructions about what parts of the service may not be photographed

4 Badly behaved small children

4 REALLY bad soloist

4 Clergy retreats to rectory shortly afterward to smoke or say, “My God, I’m glad that’s over”

5 Bride’s water breaks or delivers baby during service

5 Wedding from Hell

Part E: The Reception

1 Clergy only required to give short opening prayer, meet and greet

2 Clergy performs minor pastoral care/counseling for less than 4 relatives/friends

3 Clergy performs minor pastoral care/counseling for 4 or more relatives/friends

3 Clergy provides minor pastoral care/counseling to ex-flame who attended wedding to pretend he/she is “happy for them.”

4 Attendee suddenly feels need to confess something to clergy

5 Drunken melee/food fight/law enforcement called


Dear Couple:

I provided ______ units of pastoral care at the base rate of $__________ per pastoral care unit. This totals up to $_________________ worth of pastoral and clergy services. Please make your check to _______________________and write “Discretionary Fund” in the memo line. Thank you for choosing me and my church for your wedding. I know you promised back in the counseling phase to be regular attendees of my church, but please remit in 30 days because I am pretty sure that’s not going to happen, despite your good intentions. I was born in the dark, but it wasn’t last night!