Earning Our Keep: Why an Experienced Officiant is Worth Every Penny

I spoke, recently,  to the mother of a bride who had spent almost $10,000 on a venue, plus $1000’s more on all the other details a wedding entails. Her daughter was getting married in a week and she had completely spaced finding “someone ordained” to do the ceremony.   They immediately asked what I would charge for a custom ceremony with one weeks notice.  I quoted our normal price. That was the end of the conversation. She informed me they had put all their money in the venue, and accouterments, and just needed someone cheap to come get the job done. They had just turned down a $300 officiant as well.

Now if you read my blog, you know how sacred I hold the ceremony. If you ask me we don’t charge enough for what we do, however I get that we must honor what the market will bear. We have created a wedding culture where the most important part of the day is trivialized to the point that people balk at paying less than they pay for their cake for someone to perform the ceremony. The operative word is “perform”. It is an act, a verb, and an art.  There is this misconception that we just show up, read a script, sign a paper, and leave.  

Let me share what I do at every wedding I officiate:

  • Calling and emailing with the couple initially, and during edits
  • I meet with the couple to get to know them
  • I spend hours thinking about every couple I will marry, praying, hoping I will create a ceremony that truly honors them, and their journey.
  • I spend hours writing each couple a  ceremony customized to represent who they are, and edit it as many times as they like
  • I travel back and forth to the consultation, the wedding, and sometimes, the rehearsal.
  • I come to the wedding early and check in with all the other vendors. I visit with guests, help make sure things are running smoothly. I do mic checks, and help with any prep.
  • I energetically hold the space to create sacred container that directs the emotions of the guests, and wedding party, while at the same time leading the couple through the rituals of their ceremony. I do all of this standing in front of everyone, speaking a majority of the words, without fear. I speak clearly, and share sacred words on behalf of the couple. I Perform.
  • I make sure everyone is where they need to be after the ceremony
  • I sign and mail the license
  • I get back to my car, and exhale, feeling all the emotions of the event that I held in my heart rolling off, as I release, knowing I held the space well, and drive home to my children.

Let’s break it down, starting with the basics. I spend anywhere from 10-12 hours preparing a ceremony, traveling, and holding space. I charge approximately $600. That means I charge $60 an hour. That may seem like a lot, but  I want to share with you the less visible, and far more profound, value I bring to the table.

 I have spent over 20 years cultivating my public speaking skills. I have spent almost a decade studying the art of ceremony in depth. I create sacred space daily in my personal practice. I regularly teach others these skills, and how to bring them together, to hold space for others. They go hand in hand, and they require a great deal of energy, and self-control.

     Anyone who has ever done public speaking has held space. They can attest that it standing at the forefront of an audience, leading them on a journey, in a container of your creation, is an energetic creature of it’s own variety. It feeds you, while draining you at the same time. It’s a give and take between yourself, and the audience. At a wedding this is 10 fold because of the import of the moment. That is what you are getting for $60 an hour. It’s a bargain.  

You can’t buy this level of experience for $100 on craigslist. No one who has done the work would accept so little in return for the energy put into a ceremony. It is not because we are greedy, but because once you enter this space, and realize how much of your own energy you actually put into the process, you realize your gifts are worth reasonable wage.

This is my job, my life, my livelihood. This is what I have studied for decades for. Anyone can read a ceremony script. I get it. Not just anyone can create a ceremony. Not just anyone can make magic with well placed words, and gentle guidance. Not everyone has the skill to walk with you, and support you through the entire process. My question to you is this, do you want to hire someone to read to you, or do you want to hire someone to create a magical moment for you and your partner?

I hope that couple that balked at my price finds someone who will do the import of their ceremony justice. I truly do. Unfortunately, at a price point that low, the odds are not in their favor. I hope this has helped you understand why it is worth it to spend a little extra on a trained, experienced, officiant.

 I promise, if you hire me I will bring my whole heart, all my skills, and a whole lot of love to the table. I am worth every penny. So are all the other ministers, and officiants, at Amazing Weddings. This is just my story, but everyone we hire brings similar gifts. This is our calling.  Let us help you light the spark, and create that beginning moment of your marriage with all the respect, love, and power it deserves.

3 Responses to “Earning Our Keep: Why an Experienced Officiant is Worth Every Penny

  • Awesome article! You hit every point and as an Officiant that feels the same way, we must not devalue our worth by lowering prices just to book more weddings!

  • Beautifully expressed! I am in total agreement. Thank you!

  • Amazing, candid explanation about the value of your services. As a wedding photographer that has seen experienced officiants and “the friend” perform the ceremony there is most definitely a difference between the two! I would also venture to say you are making less than $60 an hour after you take out advertising, building overhead, travel and more expenses! And you also have to support yourself on this income which is what others forget to remember. Just because you love what you do does not mean you should not be compensated a fair wage for what you do. Keep doing what you do, you’re awesome!

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