The number one question for most couples looking for an officiant is “How much will a wedding officiant cost us?” Some never even make it to that point because they’ve already decided to ask Uncle Mickey or their best friend to marry them.
As an officiant, I get many last-minute requests because the well meaning friend or family member backed out and left the couple scrambling for a licensed professional. Another scenario is that the same well meaning friend or family member had no idea how to fill out the marriage license.
It can be a complex task that if not done correctly and turned in timely will result in a marriage that is not legal. And trust me, you do not want to get that dreaded phone call from your local marriage license office, informing you that your wedding is null and void! It always feels like Great Aunt Nancy is scolding you for making such a bad decision.
Budgeting for a wedding can be tricky. It sometimes feel like everything costs more than expected. The wedding officiant’s fee is no different. However, there is one thing that absolutely every wedding needs, an officiant who can make it legal. Even non-legal ceremonies such as vow renewals, commitment ceremonies and baptisms should consider a professional officiant to conduct the ceremony. A professional officiant won’t turn the most beautiful moment of your day into a disaster. Uncle Mickey, even with the best of intentions, very well might.
Please do not trust this very special – and very important legal moment to just anyone!
So … how much does a wedding officiant cost?
As with most questions, that depends. Location is a primary factor. The cost of an officiant will vary depending on where you are in the country.
Besides location, there are many other reasons why costs vary. Some officiants’ fees includes travel time and expenses, rehearsals, pre-marital counseling, personalized ceremonies and additional elements such as handfastings.
If you are thinking “Why do officiants cost THAT much?”, I can enlighten you. There is so much more that goes into officiating your wedding than the 20 minutes that you see at the ceremony. Like, MUCH more. On an average a wedding officiant spends between 5-10 hours on a single ceremony and may spend a considerable amount of time traveling to and from meetings with you, the rehearsal, and the ceremony destination.
From the time you contact your officiant they are on the clock. There are meet-ups whether it is by phone, Skype or in person. Creating the ceremony can take hours, then tack on the added back and forth edits to get the ceremony just as you want it once the rough draft is sent. Usually, the largest portion of the fee is the time building the ceremony which is being created uniquely for you.
- Writing the ceremony draft
- Communication to adjust details
- Ceremony editing
- Travel to reception and ceremony
- Early arrival to organize
- Stay late to sign license
- File license with state agency
Remember, the officiant usually arrives at the ceremony at least an hour before the ceremony. They often assist in organizing the ceremony and making sure things go smoothly. Sometimes they stay after the ceremony for license signing. The officiant files the license which usually means a trip to the courthouse.
There are lots of costs associated with running a business and of course any serious officiant does run a business. Phone service, internet, equipment, websites, associations, even payment services like Paypal all cost the officiant a fee. The marketing that was used for you to find the officiant costs money. Just as every other wedding vendor needs to make a profit or they’ll end up closing the business, officiants must do so as well.
Uncle Mickey Might Be Very Costly
Ceremony officiants are the experts in creating a personalized and unique ceremony for you and your soon-to-be spouse. Remember, you aren’t paying for the 20 minutes, you are paying for the years of education and experience that they bring to you, as well as the time and effort an officiant spends to craft the perfect ceremony for you, to meet with you, to discuss your needs, to cover travel costs, and to handle all of the organizational issues needed to end up with a beautiful, meaningful, and legal ceremony that you’ll remember and cherish forever.