“What is your fee?” Important question! This is not about a quick, last-minute elopement, where I stop what I’m doing, toss my minister robe over my yoga clothes, and perform the ten-word ceremony…
Do you? I do!
Do you? I do!
Okay, maybe more than ten words, but you get the idea… The choice of whether to have a Couple Only Elopement or a ceremony that rivals The Royal Wedding, is yours, with most ceremonies landing somewhere in-between, depending upon your budget. Fees are not listed on my site as they are individually quoted based on our discussion.
There are several considerations when providing a quote. For a more detailed service, the cost of the dress, the venue, the flowers, the invitations, DJ, photographers, and caterers leave little in the budget for the officiant. And while the officiant fee is usually one of the smallest parts of your budget, the officiant is the only ‘detail’ you must have in order to get married! It is baffling when a couple spends a year planning every little detail of their beautiful event, only to discover two weeks before their big day they have no officiant, and the frantic phone calls begin. Makes me think of discovering on Thanksgiving morning – you have no turkey! Yes, I’m the turkey…
Sometimes this is because the couple simply overlooked that one ‘minor’ detail in planning, but occasionally it is because the person they had secured is either ‘no longer available’ or the well-meaning friend or relative who went online is not legally approved to perform the ceremony and may have no idea how to begin planning your ceremony or conduct it. I often say that no matter what happens, at the end of the day, you’re married, but I guess that doesn’t hold true if you have no officiant.
If you were simply price shopping for the lowest possible officiant fee, my suggestion would be to elope and use that money towards a celebration or honeymoon. However, if you want someone to help you with the flow of your service, if you want the wording of your ceremony to reflect who you are as a couple, and how you want to begin your life together, there are some points beyond just asking the fee. The ‘short ceremony of 20 minutes’ actually takes much more time on my part.
There is usually an initial exchange of information through email and phone calls, with more as time continues. Next is a scheduled meeting to discuss your ceremony and exchange of ideas. With my experience of over 750 ceremonies, I may have something of interest to share with you and I can certainly tell you a few pitfalls. There’s the time spent writing your ceremony. Time spent traveling to our meeting and the ceremony itself. Are there tolls and parking charges? Is a rehearsal required with more travel? Paperwork. On the day of the ceremony, I usually arrive half an hour before the ceremony to coordinate with your venue, planner, music, and photographer, to check setup of any special unity or family ceremonies we’ve agreed on, and confirm that the Best Man has the rings. Since weddings frequently do not start promptly, I allow an hour after the start time to accommodate the lateness of guests, bridal party, wardrobe mishaps, etc. It is common for me to have a minimum of ten hours, or more, invested in your ceremony.
About the person who was ‘no longer available’… our agreement may be months or even a year in advance so if an opportunity for a wonderful vacation, family visit, or personal event were to arise, I am unable to participate because I have committed to you, to officiate your wedding. My schedule is completely blocked for your time on your date. I must also decline other couples that are interested in my services if their times conflict with yours.
While I have received the frantic phone calls mentioned above, one of the biggest considerations for me in quoting a fee as your officiant, is this: It is an honored responsibility, an obligation that I take seriously. I’m neither the least nor the most expensive, but I assure you, when I commit to officiate your wedding, I take that promise to heart.