I often receive e-mail or a phone call with this request: “We are interested in your availability and pricing for our wedding ceremony. How much do you charge?” I’m always curious about why the first question is usually, “How much?”
I know. . . money does not grow on trees, however you should pay as much as you can afford to obtain the services of a professional wedding officiant – one who can make the wedding ceremony interesting, enjoyable and entertaining for you and your guests. A little “light” humor can’t hurt either.
Choosing your wedding officiant should be your #1 priority. The presentation of the wedding ceremony sets the tone for the reception. When guests enjoy the ceremony, they have more fun at the wedding. Your officiant can make your ceremony beautiful or cause it to be a disaster! Regardless if your officiant is on the high or low end of the fee schedule, it should be their quality of work that you pay for.
Your officiant should design a ceremony – that you approve in advance – so you know what your officiant is going to say. Your officiant should speak up and speak clearly with a pleasant voice. There is nothing worse than an officiant who is long winded, drawn out, monotone and boring to put your guests to sleep.
The fee for a wedding ceremony has many variables. Pricing and availability are certainly two very important factors to consider, however because of the many details involved in planning, preparing and customizing my romantic wedding ceremony, a fee quote from me is available ONLY after a no pressure, no obligation telephone consultation and after I have spoken with the bride and groom about the numerous details of the wedding that may affect the fee.
Of course, price is only one consideration – value and whether your wedding ceremony is memorable are others. Reputation should always be another consideration.
Just as there is no standard rate for a car — old wrecks cost $500; new Ferrari is a lot more — so wedding officiants with lots of experience, awards and big name recognition will be able to charge above average rates, while new wedding officiants with no reputation, an empty schedule and no marketing budget will be willing to accept lower amounts.
Caution: You may be in for a disappointing wedding ceremony if you rely on someone in your family who has never performed a wedding ceremony before or someone who has obtained an ordination online just to do one wedding and is without any experience in the wedding business. I cannot stress this enough. Be very careful to hire someone who can give you excellent references. If they cannot provide references. . . find someone else.
Amateurs do not have the experience to be able to handle any unexpected or embarrassing moments that could develop during the wedding ceremony. A professionally-trained wedding officiant will be poised and calm no matter what happens and be able to quickly and efficiently handle any situation with dignity and respect.
A bride’s “friend” who is not trained has no business performing any wedding ceremony. The hard part is finding a “qualified” wedding officiant with an ordination who has the experience in performing ceremonies that will keep you from experiencing all the things that go wrong with an amateur. You will be much better off avoiding “weekend warriors.”
Having your “mother” or “father” perform the ceremony cheats them out of enjoying and celebrating the event.
This is your very special day. It will only happen once. It is the most important day of your life and the wedding ceremony is the moment of the most profound change in your life. I would never recommend that you make your decision on price alone. On a “tight budget?” There are numerous other areas that you can cut back on when the $$s are tight. Always allocate a sufficient amount of money in your wedding budget for a wedding officiant. The ideal officiant is not only someone who is important to the bride and groom, but is articulate and capable of handling such an important event.
Some wedding ministers/wedding officiants may charge more if they customize the ceremony. Not I. I customize every ceremony to the bride and grooms complete satisfaction for the same fee.
Some wedding ministers/wedding officiants may charge more if you expect them to be at the rehearsal. Not I. The rehearsal is included in the fee. I want to be there to make sure that everything flows smoothly. I attend all rehearsals unless you schedule your rehearsal on the day that I have a wedding scheduled. I also recommend that you schedule your rehearsal 2 days before the wedding to give you a day of rest between two stressful days – the rehearsal and the wedding. About a week before the rehearsal I will send you several “rehearsal reminders” that will be sure that you have all my latest tips for rehearsals.
If you are a member of a church or synagogue, the pastor/rabbi will sometimes perform the ceremony for free, however it is customary to make a donation of at least $500 to the church or synagogue.
I spend a lot of time helping each couple plan their wedding ceremony. A “good” or “great” wedding does not happen by accident. It takes a lot of planning and coordination. It usually takes me about 10 to 15 hours to prepare for a full-service wedding.
Typically, you can expect to pay between $400.00 to $750.00 for a professional wedding officiant. Anything less may require lots of questions from you as to their experience, etc. The variables will be their experience and travel time/expenses. They must be qualified to run a rehearsal if there is no venue wedding coordinator.
Always remember: There is a big difference between “price” and “cost.” Quality of service is more important than the price. If the ceremony gets messed up by an amateur, the “cost” will be much greater than whatever “price” you paid an experienced wedding officiant. It will always cost you less to have a first-class professional, someone you can count on to perform it properly. If something is good, it is usually not cheap, and if something is cheap, it’s probably not very good.
My philosophy is this: “Under promise and over deliver.” In other words, I always give more than is expected. I give what I promise and then some!
LoveNote. . . “Larry James went above and beyond our expectation of an officiant. Tailoring the ceremony to fit our needs exactly. Larry James took the necessary amount of time needed to truly understand us and our personalities to accommodate what we were looking for in a ceremony. This was the last thing we expected during our first interview (an unrushed meaningful interview with depth), we are very impressed and his reputation holds true!
Larry James didn’t just show up to rehearsal, he participated, offering feedback based on his experience. Larry James took time to understand us which resulted in the personal touch that a wedding should have. We like to work with people who “want” to do their profession, show passion and care about their service or product. Larry James does just that and played a significant role on the biggest day of our lives. We are confident that nobody could have done it better.” – Holly & Tyler O’Neal – Married @ 4:30 p.m., Saturday, January 8, 2011 – Regale at DC Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ
Cheap is seldom ever memorable! There are NO do-overs!
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s “romantic” Wedding Ceremony. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 460 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.
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