Many couples don’t have a church they regularly attend but feel it is important to hold their ceremony in one. If you are not using or don’t have a pastor you know, get to know the one who will marry you. It is not uncommon for pastors to require at least a few sessions of premarital counseling so as to provide some insight into a variety of things that may not have ever crossed your mind in terms of your relationship and the life changes that come along with being married. Often, family and friends provide support, encouragement and give advice but have a somewhat biased perspective due to their affinity for the two of you. Someone outside of your life and circle can be very helpful and most often, the fees for the counseling are included in the amount charged to perform the ceremony.
One thing your friends and family usually feel much more at ease commenting on is the length of your relationship prior to your engagement or marriage. Sometimes, because your parents got married after two years or your best friend was engaged after six months, the expectations for you are the same. It is imperative to remember that every relationship is different from any other and what is right for you is just that, regardless of what someone else felt was appropriate for them. Marriages can be successful after having only known one another for a few weeks just as much so as after dating for ten years. It is very easy to question yourself and the decisions you and your fiancé make based on what those close to you say. You probably also feel much more inclined to take their advice, whether right or wrong, and dismiss what it is you feel in your heart, especially coming from those who have already made the commitment to their partner.
Pastors are people who have experience with all sorts of couples and have heard all sorts of difficulties and trepidations. They go into every ceremony with both the knowledge that it is different from any other and the assurance of having contributed to making you as prepared for your future and as successful as it can be. Advice and ideas should be welcomed from any source but pastoral counseling comes from a place that is unbiased and born out of wisdom. Therefore, if you know your minister or not, be open to taking time to speak to him/her honestly and openly prior to committing yourselves to one another. After all, it would be uncomfortable having someone you have never met and doesn’t know you joining you and your husband on one of the most important days of your life.