Phoenix Wedding Pastor Blog

Who Pays For What These Days?!?!?

You have a dream wedding planned in your mind, but do you know who’s going to pay for what at the wedding? Traditionally, the bride’s family would pick up the tab but with the average cost of a wedding skyrocketing, and more couples getting married later in life, these traditional roles are far from set in stone.

wedding budget
You have a dream wedding planned in your mind, but do you know who’s going to pay for what at the wedding? Traditionally, the bride’s family would pick up the tab but with the average cost of a wedding skyrocketing, and more couples getting married later in life, these traditional roles are far from set in stone.
Some scenarios for who pays for what:
  • Traditional Responsiblities
    • The bride’s family pays for: 
      – Reception costs, including food, music, decorations, rental fees and entertainment
      – Ceremony Costs including rental fees, decorations
      – Flowers for Ceremony and Reception
      – The bride’s wedding dress and accessories
      – Invitations, announcements, programs, and mailing costs
      – Favors
      – Photography
      – Transportation
      – Their own attire and travel expenses
    • The groom’s family pays for: 
      – The rehearsal dinner, including food, invitations, decorations and entertainment
      – Their own attire and travel expenses
      – A wedding present
    • The bride pays for:
      – The groom’s wedding ring
      – A wedding gift for the groom
      – Her hair, makeup, beauty treatments
      – Gifts for her attendants
      – Sometimes accommodation for any out-of-town bridesmaids
    • The groom pays for:
      – The marriage license
      – The bride’s engagement ring and wedding ring
      – The honeymoon
      – A wedding gift for the bride
      – The bride’s bouquet
      – Gifts for his attendants
      – Corsages for the mothers and grandmothers
      – Boutonnières for men in the wedding party
      – Sometimes accommodation for any out-of-town groomsmen
      – Fee for the minister
  • When the bride and groom are older, or whose parents don’t have resources
    The bride and groom pay for all wedding costs themselves
  • A modern take on who pays for what at a wedding:
    After announcing their engagement, the bride and groom sit down and estimate what they’ll spend on the wedding, probably after finding a reception site and making general decisions about theme, style, time of day etc. They then approach their parents and after describing what they’ve decided on so far, say gently, “We were wondering if you would be able to pitch in for any of the costs.” The parents may look at the budget and say, “We’d like to pay for the reception food and the flowers” for example. They may also offer a set amount they’ll contribute. If their parents say they can’t afford to contribute, or only offer a small amount, the bride and groom say, “Thank you for considering,” and perhaps have to revise their budget or find creative ways to pay for the wedding.
  • Split the budget three ways
    In this scenario, the bride’s family, the groom’s family, and the bride and groom themselves each pay for one third of the budget. Typically, this means they will also each invite one third of the guests.

Using The “B” Word Now, Not Later

Couples fight about money twice as much as they fight about sex (according to a Money Magazine). And the challenges can actually start even before you say “I do.”

phoenix wedding ministerMoney, Marriage and Budget

Most everyone hates the word “budget.” In our minds it means that someone is going to tell us what we can spend and worse, not spend. If it’s true that money tends to be one of the leading issues in American marriages, then it only makes sense to address those issues early.

Couples fight about money twice as much as they fight about sex (according to a Money Magazine). And the challenges can actually start even before you say “I do.”

After 22 years of marriage and working with hundreds of pre-marriage couples and married couples, allow me to offer these suggestions from our friends over @

ONE – Root Cause of the Marriage and Money Problem: Communication.

Spouses need to communicate a few things about money. And when you talk about this you need to be open and honest:

1. Goals: What do you want to do with your money?
2. Limits: What is a reasonable amount to spend without needing to discuss it previously with your spouse?
3. Budget: How much will you spend on various expenses?

TWO – Goals with Your Marriage and Money.  

Problems ensue when both spouses (whether they’re both income earners) are not on the same page regarding goals. When you set and strive for goals together it will bring you closer as a couple. It is important that the goals are mutually agreed to. If the husband’s goal is to build a shop out in the backyard before he is 50, and the wife’s goal is to redecorate the house, perhaps both goals should be worked toward. Either way, the goals need to be agreed to, written down, and reviewed on a regular basis.

It can be frustrating for the income earner to feel the money is just slipping through their fingers – or feel they are working “just to get by.” It can also be frustrating for the non-income earner to feel they won’t ever have a chance at their goal because they didn’t “earn” the money. (This line of thought is prevalent and completely wrong. Where there is a stay-at-home Mom – or Dad – there is a definite and very real economic value that is being provided by the spouse. That needs to be recognized and appreciated.)

Marriage and money problems abound when one spouse feels they “do all the work” because they’ll also feel that their goals then supercede the other spouse’s. Both spouses need to appreciate the work of the other, and give room for each other’s desires in the financial picture.

Spending limits stop marriage and money problems before they start. You might be required to negotiate reasonable limits and/or goals. If the husband wants the spending limit at $10 (control freak) and the wife wants it at $100 (spend-a-holic), you’re going to need to reach a compromise. The husband cannot simply impose his will on the wife to have it at $10, and the wife can’t expect the husband to be comfortable with her proposed spending limits.

The couple needs to talk through what they want, why they want it, and then listen and compromise to reach an agreement that both are comfortable with.

Remember, the spending limit is the limit above which point a discussion must occur if a purchase is to take place. The limit tends to rise as the couple’s income rises.

THREE – The Great Peacebringer: Budgets solve money problems in marriage.

A budget is really the culmination of all three points of discussion with a couple’s money. The budget is a mini set of goals for the month. Each month the couple should sit down and assess what they have available to budget for the month (if they’re following Rule #1 they’ll be doing just that).

As the couple moves down the categories, they need to assess and realistically project what they will be needing for the month. You’ll have problems with the money side of your marriage if just one spouse budgets. Why? Because they’ll expect the other spouse to go along with it – and the other spouse certainly won’t.

There is usually one spouse in the family that is a bit more detail-oriented. They might spend more time working with the budget, and that’s okay. The important part is that both spouses sit down and hold a conference of sorts – a board meeting – and discuss where the money will be going for that month. It is critical that each spouse is completely on board with the entire budget. You can’t cut corners and you can’t be domineering. You need to give a little, negotiate, listen, compromise, and express your true concerns and wishes about your money. You’ll find these monthly sessions to be therapeutic to your marriage and money problems.

FOUR – Root Cause of Marriage and Money Problems: Selfishness.

If you are selfish with money when it comes to communicating and sharing with your spouse then you have major, major issues. I might as well paint with a broad brush: If you are selfish in any aspect of your marriage, you have major, major issues. Consider the golden rule: Treat Your Spouse as You Would Like to be Treated. Concede where necessary, and pick your battles. Remember, you are not a joint venture – you are ONE.

Your marriage and money problems will melt away if you implement these few basic principles:

(1) Set and strive for common financial goals,

(2) Set a spending limit that necessitates a discussion prior to purchase, and

(3) Budget together on a monthly basis.

And one final thing: make sure each spouse has a bit of spending money for which they do not have to be accountable to the other spouse. It does wonders for money stress and strains.

Do Not Skimp on Your Minister or Your DJ…

You want to save money. You want to get as much as you can for each dollar you spend. But there are some things you don’t EVER want to skimp and they both are the people with the microphone.

wedding dj, phoenix wedding pastor, Arizona wedding minister, wedding officiant, pastor, wedding priest
You want to save money.  You want to get as much as you can for each dollar you spend. But there are some things you don’t EVER want to skimp and they both are the people with the microphone.
Two people have a mic and two people can make or break your big day.  The minister and the DJ.  So what do you look for in choosing one?  Consider the following:
1 – Do they have several years of experience?
2 – Do you have chemistry with them?
3 – Are they open to ALL your ideas?
4 – Who referred them to you?
5 – Have they seen him/her in action? (live on on video)

Wedding Candles That Do NOT Blow out

Arizona weddings are often outdoors and when a couple wants to include a unity candle to the ceremony they are often faced with how to keep the center candle lit. Although I did not invent the idea, I do LOVE the idea. There is nothing more romantic than a candle in the wedding ceremony, but nothing more distracting than a candles that blows out during the ceremony. Here is a new idea for you to try. It’s the trick is a wick exchange. Replace the existing wick in your unity candle with the wick of a trick birthday candle, the kind you can’t blow out.

Take a very fine drill bit and bore out the the unity candle wick. Remove the wax from the trick candle wick by just breaking the candle in half and sliding the wax off of the wick. The wax on the trick candle has nothing to do with the candle reigniting; it’s a small thread of magnesium in the wick that burns at a low temperature that causes the wick to ignite even after it’s been blown out.

You don’t have to remove all of the existing wick, simply go down far enough, about an inch to 2 inches and insert the trick wick, leaving about an inch of wick at the top of the candle to light. This works very well in pillar size candles. If the hole you have bored in the unity candle is too large for the new wick, simply dip the trick wick in melted wax before inserting.

Changing out wicks can be done several months ahead of time and it is a very good idea to practice on an old candle first. The smaller in diameter the candle is the more difficult it will be to change out wicks. With a little practice you’ll have a unity candle that will stay lit no matter how windy.


I recently was told, by a creative bride, that there is yet another option for candles that will not blow out. She suggested oil candles with a hurricane. I hope this link is still live: I found a nice selection here.

Good luck and have fun!


Should your wedding minister attend the rehearsal?


One of the most common questions I get is related to whether or not the minister should personally attend the wedding rehearsal.  Before I answer that question, I think it’s first important to understand the reasons to even have a rehearsal.

The first, and most important reason to have a wedding rehearsal is for the wedding party to practice entering and exiting the wedding ceremony.  In most cases, the bride’s maids and the groomsmen are unfamiliar and inexperienced with the wedding processional.  First and foremost, the rehearsal is for the wedding party.

The second reason is for the wedding coordinator who will be directing the actual wedding.  This person needs to know exactly how the bride wants the party to enter and exit.  In the “old days” it was the minister who arranged and organized the wedding party.  But now, most wedding venues have a coordinator who is trained and experienced in directing weddings.

Rather than attend the rehearsal, as a minister I would rather meet with the couple one more time the week of the wedding at a coffee house.  Carving out 45 minutes with the minister, at a time convenient for both, would allow for last minute decisions and changes in the ceremony to be discussed.  Even if I as the minister would attend the rehearsal, there is rarely time to talk or discuss anything of substance.  

In summary, I do not see it as neccessary for the minister to attend the wedding rehearsal if there is a coordinator in charge.  For him/her to attend and practice walking in and out is probably an overkill.

So do yourself a favor and carve out an hour to spend with the minister privately so you can concentrate on the ceremony with him or her.  Your time is valuable, but do not cut corners with time spent with the person who is in charge of the most important 22 minutes of your day!

Save Your Money!

Getting engaged to the love of your life is the most amazing feeling! The excitement and giddy feelings for planning the big day immediately kick in and this is when things can financially spiral out of control! Forget the fairytale as weddings can prove to be a nightmare with the average cost being around $25,000!

Long gone are the days where less is more when you have to consider flowers, dresses, venues, food and the DJ to name but a few! Wedding planning is big business and that usually means big money! However with a little know-how and a clear head, you do not have to get caught up in the drama as you plan the perfect day on a budget that suits yourself and your partner. So here are a few ways to help keep your finances grounded instead of crying ever so slightly when your parents have to re-mortgage their home to pay for the horse and carriage!

Tie the knot mid-week. Booking venues for the weekend can almost double in price, so why not go for a week day where it will be a lot less! Granted it may be less convenient for others, but those who you want there… will be there on the day!

Get creative and make your own invites! I have seen this done many times before by friends and the individual touch adds so much more to it all. It’s cheaper than have the invitations professionally printed, and with so many different softwares and online companies encouraging you to do it yourself… you could save a few pennies here!

Think about a buffet style for the food instead of a gourmet sit down 3 course meal. Yes these look posh and can appear to be more civilized, but per person this can be one of the most expensive pay outs for the day.

Look at taking advantage of a family member or friend’s flash car for the day! Maybe your father in-law to be has a fancy vintage Mercedes or a Harley motorcycle (because he’s clearly going through a mid-life crisis!) then ask nicely and you could use that with no cost!

Try to DIY your own cake! A bit of sponge apparently can cost hundreds of pounds which is crazy talk! Again try and use all your contacts to see if you can have this made much cheaper than a wedding cake pro. Or for those who just want the cake to look good in the pictures,  ask the baker to give you fake layers of cake! These can be dressed up to look amazing and the guests and yourself only have to eat the one real cake you paid for! Genius!

Recycle your flowers on the day. After shelling out a small fortune on flowers to decorate the church, you want to squeeze every last use out of them before they die on you! So after the ceremony have someone take the flowers to the reception to make it look gorgeous all over again! That way you’re not having to buy two lots of flowers for the church and the reception.

Get your interior designer on! We’ve all seen the home makeover programmes, so why not channel your flamboyant creative self and decorate the venue of your wedding yourself instead of paying someone for the pleasure. This way it’s not only easier on your finances, but you get to create a look to your exact liking.

So the bottom line is this, with a little creativity and extra work, you can save on spending but not lose much in quality!

How to Choose a Wedding Minister

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best…

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best:

  1. Are you a “real pastor” at a church? If so, which one?
  2. How long have you been a wedding minister? How long have you been a minister in a church?
  3. Do you require premarital counseling?
  4. Do you offer premarital counseling? If so, what kinds of things should we expect in our meetings with you? How much do those meetings cost?
  5. How many times would you like to meet with us before the wedding day?
  6. Is it a problem that our faith is different than yours?
  7. Are you open to our ideas with the wedding ceremony?
  8. How long will the entire ceremony be?
  9. What can we expect if you get sick and cannot be at our wedding? What is your back up plan?
  10. What will you wear at our ceremony? A robe or a suit?

Those are a few of the better questions asked. Because you don’t get married often, it’s good to arrive at your meeting with your own questions so you can make a good decision about who you are going to invite to marry you both.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is chemistry. In other words, do you feel comfortable with him or her? Do you like him or her? Did he or she make you feel good and positive? The answers to those questions come from your heart. All the other questions are important, but when it comes down to it, you must be happy with the man or woman officiating your wedding.

– Rev. Randy Williams

Writing Your Own Vows

So many couples sit down with me as their Arizona wedding pastor and one of them wants to write their own vows and the other does not (more often the bride does, not the groom). Then I sit as the tension in the room rises, because both are strong in their feelings about the idea of writing their own wedding vows. I listen, trying not to side with one or the other. Until a couple years ago, I thought it was all or nothing when it comes to wedding vows. Now, I offer them an idea that, more often than not, makes each happy. It’s what I call, “Freestyle Vows” or “Love Letter Vows.” Allow me to explain.

At the beginning of the ceremony, before the promises, the vows or the rings, I take out a letter from each, to each, and read them publicly for the first time. They do not need to match in length, content or style. Both are written from the heart with that magical moment in mind. The following are the reasons why I think freestyle vows have caught on and been embraced by so many of my couples:

  • One can be long; the other short
  • One can include humor; the other can be more serious and romantic
  • One can be poetic and structured formally; the other can be simple bullet points about how wonderful the other person is.
  • One can include “inside jokes” that only the couple gets; the other can be a favorite love poem.

As one can see, the ideas are endless. Writing your own vows has become a great way for a bride to bring creativity to the ceremony as well as an extra dose of romance.

So good luck writing, and remember to have fun with it. Your guests will LOVE it and so will you!

– Rev. Randy Williams