Send the priest a written invitation.
Send the priest a written invitation.

Several steps must be taken to secure the services of a priest, regardless of the size or formality of a wedding. The priest who will be marrying you is called the officiant. This is different from simply inviting a friend who also happens to be a priest. Because it is different, you can't just send the officiating priest a wedding invitation and hope he shows up to marry you. You must secure his services well in advance.

Asking the Priest

Etiquette states that you should ask the priest in person, if possible, to perform your wedding. Call the church and make an appointment to speak with him. Ideally, you will already be members of his church. Some priests find it uncomfortable to perform weddings for people that do not attend their churches. If you are not a member of his church, he may ask you to go through some counseling or meetings in order to get to know you a little better.

Sending an Invitation

You've invited the priest to officiate and he has accepted. Obviously, he is coming to your wedding, but send him a printed invitation anyway. It's considered good form to do so, and he may even appreciate the reminder. Address the card in a formal manner. Most Catholic priests are addressed as "Reverend Father," but there are many ranks in the Catholic church and in other denominations. Be sure to find out exactly how to address your priest before you send the invitation.

Attending the Reception

It is generally considered polite to invite the priest to attend the reception after the wedding. After all, he was a major part of your wedding, and he deserves to celebrate a little also. Don't be surprised if he declines -- he may even have another wedding to officiate -- but it's best to err on the side of caution and invite him. Do this before the wedding, as you may not have time to speak to him after the ceremony.

Payment and Tips

As you meet with the priest, he will go through a checklist of items with you pertaining to the ceremony. One of these items will likely be his standard fee for services rendered. This can range from $200 to more than $500, depending on how long the wedding will be, if the priest is expected to preside over the rehearsal and if he provided formal wedding counseling services prior to the ceremony. Some wedding experts also suggest tipping the priest -- as a way to say thank you -- but this is something best left to the couple to decide. Tips usually range from $75 to $100.