How much to pay the preacher or officiant of a wedding varies significantly based on the church affiliation and type of wedding. Though some churches and pastors maintain set fees for marriage services, many do not. In these cases, it is typically customary to give the preacher a self-determined fee after the service.
When you ask your personal church pastor to officiate your wedding, it is a good idea to ask up front if he charges a common wedding service fee. Your church office may also provide this information if you would prefer not to ask him directly. Some churches and pastors maintain standard fees around $100 to $200. However, many do not have specific rates and prefer to leave any fee up to the discretion of the couple.
When your pastor officiates your wedding, common etiquette is for the groom to discretely pay the pastor a fee after the ceremony. You can include this in a card. If you are choosing how much to give, consider that Linda Kevich, a 15-year wedding consultant veteran and founder of creator and editor of SuperWeddings.com, indicates that $100 is fairly standard. You are certainly allowed to pay more if you have a close relationship with the pastor.
If you do not have a church affiliation or relationship with a particular pastor, another option is to hire a professional wedding officiant. These are people that are licensed in your state to marry couples. In her article "How to Hire a Wedding Officiant," wedding specialist Marcy Ann Cheek notes that when you hire a professional officiant, pay considerations are different. As opposed your church pastor, who is paid income and other support to manage affairs of the church, professional officiants rely on wedding service income for their livelihood.
Customary Officiant Fees
Because of their independent professional services, Cheek says officiants' fees can range from $250 to $700, depending on the level of services provided and the area you live in. She notes that fees are much higher on the coasts and generally lower in the South and Midwest, based on her research. Typically, professional officiants have set fees, will outline fees and services in your initial meeting and will usually have you sign a contract for their services.