Pre Marriage Advisement

My responsibility as the wedding pastor is to prepare the couple for the wedding ceremony and the marriage. It’s easy for the couple to forget or even neglect the attention needed for being married. Even if a couple is cohabiting before the wedding, they must be prepared for the fact that their relationship is going to change. For this reason, i never charge extra money for time spent with the couple to discuss their relationship. I want to remove all possible excuses to not meeting with me.

I have found that the majority of couples are not willing or able to give me more than one session. With that in mind, I try to convince them to take a personality test for me and give me an hour to go over the test together. Pound for pound, there’s nothing i can do more for them in one hour than provide insight from a test such as the Taylor Johnson Temp test. It’s cheap, easy, fast, and informative.

I love preparing couples for their wedding day. I enjoy even more preparing couples to last a lifetime together.

PreMarriage Tests



One of the tools I use the most often in helping couples prepare for marriage is the Taylor Johnson Temperament test.  For very little money, a couple can determine how well they know each other PLUS know how compatible they are together.  I have administered this test over 200 times and I am yet to find someone who didn’t glean something to help their relationship.

There is no reason to be nervous about the results either.  No one fails the test.  The only bad that can come from it is not doing it.

PreMarriage Advisement or Not??

20130317-060356.jpgBefore the brides walks down the center isle with her father, my hope is that every couple spends at least one hour with a marriage and family professional to talk about topics such as these:

  • In laws
  • Money
  • Home chores
  • Sex
  • Future vacations
  • Friends outside of marriage
  • Personal hobbies
  • Faith and religion
  • Children
  • Careers
  • Future education
  • Debt


Questions to ask when choosing a wedding officiant in Phoenix, Arizona


Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Wedding Minister

by Bill Yaccino20130216-155010.jpg

So you’re looking for a wedding minister, eh? Not as easy as it sounds, right?

The officiant you choose should match your personal style and the type of wedding ceremony that you’d like to have. For instance, you may not choose the same minister for an informal wedding in the park versus a formal religious ceremony in a church. Your ceremony is the spiritual heart and soul of your wedding day. Yet, many people are uncertain about how to choose an officiant. Some couples are initially intimidated when talking with the person who may be partnering with them on one of the most important days of their life. If you and your fiancé are already members of an established church, then the choice is easy. But if neither of you has an affiliation with a local church, you’ll want to be looking for a minister who can serve you well on your special day. Here are some tips on where to look and what to ask.

How did you find your officiant?

If you receive a referral from a close family member, there may be a strong expectation that you simply accept this person as the one who will tie your knot. Referrals from friends or people you find on your own usually have fewer “strings attached.” In any event, remember that this is your wedding day, and while your families are welcome to share their ideas and opinions, the final decision must rest with the two of you. Thank your family member for the recommendation, tell them your fiancé may also be getting ideas from his or her side of the family, and assure them that the two of you will choose a minister who is best for everyone concerned.

Do you like this minister?

Do you like their voice? Is their voice soothing or shrill? Does he or she speak slowly and clearly? Are they relational and relatable? Remember, the officiant is communicating the special words and significance of your wedding ceremony to every single guest. If the voice is too soft, be sure that amplification is provided. The voice must be able to carry to the last row of guests, and hold their interest.

Is the minister flexible?

Can you write your own vows or add other special touches? Do you want a little humor in the ceremony? Can you use contemporary readings or are they required to be religious or scripture readings? Even if you don’t know up front what kind of wedding ceremony you want, are you confident that your officiant will allow for changes as the wedding day approaches? Will they work with you to develop a ceremony which honors the religious traditions and beliefs of both families while still speaking meaningfully to the two of you? For example, if you were raised Christian and your fiancé is Jewish, is the minister willing to read a passage from the Old Testament instead of a New Testament scripture? Will the minister allow flash photography during the wedding (usually this will help make the pictures look better)?

What is your minister’s background?

The government doesn’t issue licenses to ministers. That’s why pastors in our network are all aligned with a local church that issues their license or ordination to perform sacradotal functions. Ask how many weddings they have performed. This is not always the best indicator as many young pastors are just beginning to serve couples in this way, yet they may be very authentically engaged with the couple and do an outstanding job. Older pastors offer the most experience and warmth, but make sure they are interested in you as a couple, not just going through the motions. What other pastoral work do they engage in?

Are you also looking for a church to attend?

Some people are looking for a lifelong relationship with a minister and a church. Others just want a minister to officiate their wedding. Be clear about your preference, but be open to new relationships that may influence and impact your marriage for many years! If you are looking for a church group and a pastor, ask if you can attend an upcoming service. If not, say so, and see if that works for the minister you are considering.

What if you are living together?

If you and your fiancé are living together, already have children, are expecting a child, or if either of you have been through a divorce, it is important to tell the prospective officiant your situation during your first phone conversation. Some officiants have no problem with this and see it as an opportunity for you to take a step closer to a fully committed relationship. Others may require that you move into separate apartments, or express other expectations. It is better to find this out soon. Consider these factors when deciding if this is the officiant you want. For some people, this is an opportunity to begin fresh and invite the presence of God into their lives – but this is for the two of you to decide.

Is premarital counseling required?

Some couples want counseling, and others do not feel it is necessary. Counseling programs are only as good as your willingness to deeply participate. If you are simply fulfilling an obligation by attending premarital sessions, you will most likely not gain from them. While many do not require it, most of the pastors in our network either offer premarital counseling or will suggest going through the marriage enrichment program offered by Life Innovations called Couple Checkup. This is a wonderful program that is completed online in the privacy of your home. The results may be shared with your pastor or counselor if you desire. Research shows that couples who invest in this type of marriage enrichment are 31% more likely to succeed in their marriage.

How much do we pay our minister?

The ministers in our network will ask for a set fee. In the past, ministers would perform these services for a donation, but that becomes confusing for couples not familiar with church practices. We find it easiest to set a fee based on the area, the complexity of the ceremony, and the amount of time spent with a couple. You can expect fees to range between $300-$600.

How many times do we meet with our minister?

Most ministers will want to meet with you at least once so they can get to know you and you can get to know them. Others require premarital counseling with multiple sessions. Some will offer one or two preparatory meetings and a rehearsal. What do you want? Can the officiant meet your wishes? Will the officiant be available to talk by phone as questions arise? Can you trust them with personal information if you just need someone to talk to about personal matters? If possible, find an officiant who is as helpful as you want him or her to be but not overbearing.

Will the officiant be at the rehearsal?

An experienced officiant at your wedding rehearsal can be very helpful, but he or she may not be available at the scheduled time. If the minister is unable to attend the rehearsal, do they have other arrangements for someone to help organize things? We always suggest that you do not run a rehearsal yourself without some advance practical help! Many banquet facilities also have an assistant there to help. If so, the best way to run a rehearsal is to have the wedding coordinator help walk you all up to the front, then have the officiant rehearse the ceremony itself, and finally have the coordinator direct the recessional march at the end.

Should I invite our minister to the rehearsal dinner or reception?

If the officiant has a long-term pastoral relationship with you or the family, by all means issue an invitation. Otherwise, the decision is entirely yours to make. Many officiants politely decline the invitation, so if you want them to attend, it may be best to ask casually first.

What will our minister wear for the ceremony?

This may seem like a petty question, but it is a good one! Some officiants will wear a suit and tie (gray or black suits are best, because they blend in with any color scheme). Others wear ministerial robes. Ask to see the robe, or at least a picture, to see if it fits in with you style or preferences for your wedding day.

How elaborate will the ceremony preparations be?

A few officiants have only one ceremony they offer. If that is the case, be sure you get to read their ceremony and make sure it harmonizes with what you want said at your wedding. Others have a few simple choices (with the option of you adding some of your own ideas) so you can create the ceremony that most speaks to you. Most of the pastors in our network prefer to sit down and design a customized wedding just for you. Always ask how long they think the ceremony itself will take; this is critically important information for your facility, photographer, caterer, etc. Whatever you want, let the officiant know up front.

Do you feel taken care of?

The original meaning of the word “minister” is “servant.” Is this minister serving your needs on your big day? Are you comfortable in the minister’s presence, or do you always feel like you are hiding things so as not arouse his or her disapproval? Our pastors are eager to serve you and want your wedding day to be a beautiful and meaningful one for everyone.We hope these questions help you feel more comfortable and confident as you seek to find a minister to serve you on this most important of days! Blessings to you both, and may you remember your wedding ceremony as meaningful, fun and personal!


20111110-170932.jpgTake openly about your faith and church background

One of the biggest issues that attack couples AFTER they are married is the topic of faith.  Before children, there often is not much issue regarding church and faith, but as soon as a baby comes into the family, things change – a lot!

For example, if one of you comes from a Roman Catholic background and the other an evangelical background, the issue of infant baptism is going to cause way more issues than you can even imagine.  Especially if you add to the mix the opinions of the baby’s grandmother.  I see way too often couples make assumptions of the kind of church they are planning on raising their child in.  So when the time comes to make an appointment with a minister, the reality of the differences hit each in the heart fast.

My advise: speak openly about church, faith, and God.  Come to agreement BEFORE you say I do (not after).  And if it becomes indeed the discussion is too hard to discuss one on one, invite a third party to assist (such as a minister, counselor or family friend).


bookRead a book on marriage together

One of the greatest tools available to couples today is the many many books available on the subject of marriage and family (and blending families).  No one book has all the answers – in fact, most of them do not offer much in regards to new information   But no matter the book, they all can help stimulate amazing conversation.  If the only thing a books does is cause you as a couple to talk more about your relationship, it’s worth the time and little money.

One of my favorite books is entitled, “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” but there are many to choose from:  here is a good (and cheap) way to go:


question-mark_womanAsk good questions often

One of the dangers of being engaged is the potential of losing the urgency of knowing each other deeper.  One of the things all of us can (and should) do is ask better questions more often.

Take time to think of mind-stretching questions about their

  • past,
  • their folks,
  • hobbies they would like to try,
  • childhood memories,
  • places they have traveled,
  • professors they still remember and admire,
  • friends in college who you don’t know,
  • their dreams for the future,
  • and their current fears in life.

If you ask questions with a passion to know them better, they will share and open their hearts to you even more.

Take time to ask good questions often

Prepare for your marriage, not just your wedding: Tip #43

loveIn your planning, do not neglect each other.

It is way too easy to become all consumed in the wedding planning and forget how important it is to continue to nurture each other as future husband and wife.

Don’t be afraid to ask one another if they feel neglected in this crazy period of time.  If you’re like most couples, you are having a hard time find time for each other.  One thin g that you may have to do is place each other on the calendar for date nights.  Then after the “appointment” is made, stick to it no matter what comes up.

Prepare for your marriage, not just your wedding: Tip #78

premarriage counseling
premarriage counseling

Take time to take a personality test

Take a personality test with your minister, or officiant  or a counselor.  You can ALWAYS know each other better.  After 24 years of marriage, and 30 years of knowing my wife, personality testing is still a great tool for us to know each other better.

When you know each other better, you can then love each other deeper.  When you love each other deeper, you love being married even more – and you will survive and thrive in hard times.

This is the test I use.  It’s fun, cheap, easy, and very informative:

So go get someone to administer a personality test to the two of you.  It’s fun and who knows what you will learn about each other (and maybe even yourself).