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wedding officiant cost

A Guide to Wedding Officiant Costs, Fees, and Donations

For most couples, hiring a wedding officiant is usually at the very bottom of their wedding to-do list, coming up after the wedding menu, venue, guest list, flowers, music, photographer, and the like.

However, if you pause for a moment, you will realize that a wedding officiant is indeed indispensable. Actually, you might want to put in some thought into the matter; you do not want just a random stranger to set your wedding celebration’s tone.

One factor couples often fail to consider is the cost of a wedding officiant. If you’re suddenly wondering “how much does a wedding officiant cost?” read on to learn average costs and the factors that affect pricing.

Wedding Officiant Role

How to Become Ordained

When it comes to your big day, a wedding officiant plays quite a crucial role. He or she has the responsibility of seeing to it that you and your partner are actually married at the end of the day. They conduct the wedding ceremony and make your marriage official.

A wedding officiant can also be a religious figure, including a minister, priest or rabbi. The officiant can also be drawn from secular domains and this individual can be a justice of peace, a judge, or any other professional wedding officiant who is allowed to legally conduct wedding ceremonies in the particular state in which you reside.

Some couples opt to let a friend or family member officiate their wedding, provided they get the proper certification.

Whether you choose a religious or secular officiant, it is the role of this particular individual to work with both of you to create a special and meaningful experience. This professional can also give pre-marital counseling.

This responsibility also comes with a legal role; your officiant is responsible for seeing to it that all matters pertaining your marriage certificate are well taken care of. He or she ensure that all the proper documents are properly filled, signed and later sent to the relevant office. 

Wedding Officiant Cost 

wedding officiant

The average cost of a professional officiant varies based on various factors: your location, house of worship, type of ceremony, and more. Sometimes, the officiant fee is tied into the cost of hosting your wedding ceremony at the church or other house of worship of your choice. In other cases, the officiant may travel to your wedding venue, which may alter the cost.

Depending on the kind of officiant you prefer, the price can be anywhere between $300 and $800. If you are looking for a typical show-up-and-read officiant, then it could cost as little as $250.

It will cost you roughly $600 to $800 if you are looking for a wedding officiating program that is a bit more comprehensive. With this kind of program, you will be looking at things such as an initial meeting, optional rehearsal, phone availability, as well as a customized ceremony.

If you are in a relatively big city, the cost for any wedding vendor will be slightly higher. However, you need not panic; there are many officiants out there, and the market is competitive enough.

Another factor that could influence your officiant’s price would be what part of the country you are in, what travel expenses are involved, availability, and rehearsal time charges. 

If you choose to have a friend officiate your wedding, they will likely do it for free. You wouldn’t pay your maid of honor, so it’s generally not expected that you would pay a friend to officiate. You can choose to offer them some payment, however, perhaps to cover the cost of their licensing fees.

What is Included?

Your wedding officiant should do more than just show up. In addition to the roles they should perform on your wedding day, there are other services that should be included in the total cost. These are, but not limited to:

Prep Work

For your ceremony to be a success, it is paramount that your officiant meets up with you in advance, so as to craft the kind of ceremony that is meaningful and special to you. Be sure to discuss all the elements you’d like included, including preferred readings, family traditions, and religious elements. 

Some officiants offer, or even require, premarital counseling to strengthen your relationship before the wedding ceremony. Ask your potential officiant about how they prepare before the wedding day.

Travel Costs

Here, you are literally paying for your wedding officiant’s time and presence. If they have to travel for a long distance in order to get to your event, you might have to incur extra travel costs.


Part of your wedding officiant’s duties is seeing to it that your marriage license and such details are well filled out, properly signed, and returned to the relevant office in good time.

Rehearsal Charges

It is not mandatory that the official attends the wedding rehearsal. Depending on what policy he or she practices, an extra charge may be incurred for attending the rehearsal.

Cost of a Religious Officiant

bride and groom at altar

As expected, any religious wedding officiant will most likely be affiliated with a particular house of worship. As such, they may not have a specific fee, but rather their price may be included in the cost of the venue. 

If you will be getting married in the particular house of worship where the officiant serves, the fee might be combined with the venue fee. If this is not the case, you might be required to make a donation of a particular amount, depending on whether or not you are members of that particular place of worship.

Some places of worship will simply ask for a donation rather than a direct price for a religious officiant. If you aren’t sure how much to donate, ask if there’s a standard or recommended donation amount.

Cost of a Non Denominational Officiant

Non religious wedding officiants can be more expensive. To get married by a justice of the peace at the courthouse, you will likely only have to pay the cost of the marriage license. Most court officials do not charge separate officiant fees.

To hire a professional officiant, however, you may pay extra. Some non denominational wedding officiants charge a steep price, especially if they’re known for officiating beautiful weddings. Prices vary depending on experience, location, and the effort they put into your wedding ceremony.

Another option that more and more couples are choosing is to ask a friend or family member to serve as their wedding officiant. Most family members or close friends would gladly officiate your wedding, likely for free, so this is typically an affordable option.

If they do offer their help for free, you should consider giving them a thank you gift for contributing to your big day.

Do You Tip?

Generally, yes, you should tip your marriage officiant just like any other vendor. If you hire a civil officiant, a tip around $50 to $100 is standard.

If you hire a religious officiant, they may be less likely to accept a tip, as they may prefer a donation to their church instead. You can still offer a tip if you are pleased with their service.

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