How Much Should a Wedding Officiant Charge?
Performing weddings is fast becoming a popular way to earn supplemental income in the new “gig economy.” Not only do you get to be your own boss and set your own hours, but officiating also pays quite well. In fact, some enterprising wedding officiants report making over $60k annually simply by performing ceremonies.
However, navigating the topic of officiant fees is easier said than done. Conversations about money can be awkward (especially when it comes to weddings) and setting a firm price is something a lot of officiants struggle with. So, how much should you charge?
There’s no black-and-white answer to this question. A reasonable fee will depend on a number of factors, which we’ll explore below.
1. Ceremony Location
One of the main aspects to account for is wedding location. Just like a hotel room will be more expensive in New York City than in Mobile, Alabama, your fee will likely be higher when operating in a big metro region, and lower if the ceremony is in a small town or rural area.
A quick note on destination weddings: if getting to the wedding requires significant travel, it’s generally expected that the bride and groom will cover the costs for the officiant (and since traveling adds an extra degree of hassle, you might also choose to raise your fee). Either way, make sure to clarify these arrangements with the couple beforehand so everyone is on the same page.
2. Simple vs. Complex Ceremonies
An officiant fee will also depend on the type of ceremony being performed. Does the couple prefer something short and sweet, or a more complex and intricate affair? Will the ceremony adhere to a typical format, or will it include special elements that require extra planning? Understanding the couple’s wishes is important when deciding on a fair price.
If you anticipate performing any specialized ceremonies, consider upgrading to one of our more comprehensive wedding officiant packages which includes a variety of materials perfect for presiding over a range of popular ceremony types.
3. Extra Requirements
Some couples expect their officiant to assist or participate in other aspects of the wedding, too. Will you simply need to show up for the ceremony, or are other duties expected of you? Perhaps you’ll be asked to coordinate with a wedding planner, help organize the rehearsal, or maybe even provide premarital counseling.
Knowing precisely what your role will be is crucial, so nail that down early on in the process. If your duties will extend beyond the ceremony itself, consider raising the officiant fee accordingly.
4. Friendly Discount
Obviously, your relationship to the couple will also affect the fee. If you’re a close friend or family member who would have been at the wedding anyway, you might decide to perform the ceremony as a gift to them. It’s also common to waive the officiant fee and accept something small, like a bottle of wine, in return.
On the other hand, if you’re simply acquaintances and the couple hired you specifically to be the officiant, then it’s totally fair to charge the market rate for your services. Any potential discount is entirely up to you.
5. Experience Counts
Experience is huge in this industry. The more weddings you’ve done, the more you can charge for your services. A veteran marriage officiant who’s cultivated a strong brand and demand for their services might take home $700 – or more – for a single wedding.
Newer officiants, on the other hand, probably couldn’t get away with charging that much. As with most industries, it takes time to get to the top. However, as you get more experience and become a master of the craft, you can raise your rates accordingly.
6. Deciding On A Fee
At the end of the day, you’ll have to weigh a variety of factors when deciding how much to charge. In general, the more responsibilities you’re given, the higher your officiant fee should be.
According to one estimate, the national average for a wedding officiant fee in 2016 was $278. However, that’s just a benchmark. Many officiants choose to offer tiered pricing – a base rate for their services, and additional options with higher prices depending on a couple’s requirements, location, etc.
However you choose to go about setting a price, it’s best to communicate this to the couple upfront so you can concentrate on the important part: officiating an amazing ceremony.