The constantly changing rules of etiquette and the desire not to commit any major faux pas can make navigating the world of weddings stressful, especially when it comes to interactions with the minister. With rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions and gratuities, it can be difficult to determine how to handle certain situations with the person presiding over your special day. Ultimately, you will need to find a balance in how you treat the minister as both a hired service provider and an essential member of your wedding party.
Although not a hard and fast rule, it is considered polite to extend a rehearsal dinner invitation to the minister for his work in setting up and guiding everyone through the wedding rehearsal, especially if you have an established relationship with the minister. If the minister is invited to the dinner, you should also extend an invitation to his spouse or partner. The minister should receive the same rehearsal dinner invitation as the rest of the dinner participants, whether it is a physical invitation, a phone call or email.
Similar to the rehearsal dinner, it is polite but not required that you invite the minister to your wedding reception. The general exceptions are if you or your family have known the minister for a long period of time and have developed an ongoing relationship, if the minister has had to travel or go out of his way to officiate the wedding or if the minister will be giving a blessing prior to eating the reception meal. However, if your reception budget is tight or the venue space is limited, it is perfectly acceptable to forgo inviting the minister to the wedding reception.
After the decisions have been made about whether to invite the minister to the rehearsal dinner, wedding reception or both, the next step is to figure out is where he should be seated. For both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception, it is not necessary to seat the minister at the head table or with the wedding party. However, it is proper to have the minister sit next to the parents, especially if there is already a friendly relationship between the minister and the family. If in attendance, the minister’s spouse should be seated next to him.
To show your appreciation for the minister who officiates the wedding, it is polite to show your thanks in the form of a tip, donation or gift card. While you can directly tip the minister, you can also make a donation to the minister's church if you are a member or simply uncomfortable tipping a clergyperson. A restaurant gift card is also a suitable stand-in for a traditional tip. Tips and donations can fall anywhere between $50 and $500 and should be offered to the minister in an envelope the day before or following the ceremony. Ultimately, as with any tip, it is not required and is meant to reward exceptional service.
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