How Much Do Wedding Officiants Cost?


You can’t have a legal wedding without a wedding officiant. When you are trying to figure out your budget, the cost of paying a wedding officiant must be taken into account This article will give you some ideas on how to save on wedding officiants cost and still have a memorable ceremony.

What Do Wedding Officiants Cost?

It will depend on a few factors:

  • Where you get married

  • The type of officiant

  • If the officiant fee is included in the site fee

  • The time of year, day of week, and time of day

  • The length of your ceremony

On average, the cost of a wedding officiant is around $263 according to The Bridal Association of America. However, the fees may vary according to the above factors.

Cost of Different Type of Officiant:

  • Justice-of-the-Peace - $50 to $100

  • Retired Judge - $100 to $200

  • Church Pastor - $200 and up

  • Priest – $100 to $200 Offering or Donation

  • Friend – If a friend decides to get ordained and performs your ceremony, you just tip them. Customary $50 to $100

Location of Wedding – If you get married outside of a church or county courthouse, the minister or justice-of-the-peace may charge you mileage on average $.50 per mile.

Time of Year, Day of Week, Time of Day – Spring and summer rates for officiants may be higher. Fall and Winter may be cheaper. Peak wedding days are Fridays and Saturdays; you may get cheaper rates Sunday through Thursday. If you have a wedding later in the day, you may be charged a little more than a morning or afternoon ceremony.

Ceremony Length – Keep in mind your officiant may charge by the hour. To keep fees in quoted range, make sure you start your ceremony on time and keep it to 30 minutes to one-hour. You may be charged overtime for starting late or writing a longer than average ceremony. If you do have to pay hourly, ask your officiant to use their own ceremony to keep costs down.

A Word About Tipping

You may be wondering if it is customary to tip your wedding officiant. The rule of thumb for this is quite simple:

Pastor or Minister – Usually the fee is given as a donation to the church. It is customary to give a pastor, priest or minister a check written out to them for any gratuities. Any cash given is usually deposited into church funds.

Professional Officiant – If the fees paid are included in a wedding site fee, it is customary to tip the officiant since they are employed by the venue. If you are using an outside professional officiant, you don’t necessarily have to tip them if they are collecting the fees for themselves.

What Is Included in Wedding Officiants Cost?

You may think that your wedding officiant just shows up, marries you, signs your marriage license and goes their way after the ceremony. There is actually a lot more details that need to be included in the wedding officiants cost. This ensures you have developed a personal bond and connection before your wedding day, and that things go smoothly. Here is what is included in the cost:

Premarital Counseling

It is a good idea for both you and your fiancé to meet with your officiant between one and three times to get to know each other. You may also be asked to discuss your feelings about marriage, future, family, and other sensitive things.


Ceremony Planning

During one of your counseling sessions or a separate meeting, you will go over the ceremony. You may help write a personalized ceremony, or have a chance to look at your officiant's ceremony. You can choose readings, music to be played, and traditions you would like included.



A few days before the wedding, they will hold a ceremony rehearsal for you and your wedding party.


Early Arrival

If you’re getting married in a church, your officiant will arrive early to open the church and get things ready for your arrival. If you are getting married at a different location, they will show up a bit ahead of schedule to go over the details.


Signing the Marriage License

You will hand the officiant the marriage license either at your last meeting or rehearsal. Try to avoid doing this on your wedding day. It is best if you have your officiant bring the license. They will then have it ready for signing by you and your witnesses before or after your ceremony.


Filing the Marriage License

After the wedding, your officiant takes your signed marriage license to the county courthouse and files it for you.

Helpful Tips for Finding the Right Wedding Officiant

Start looking for an officiant as soon as you choose a wedding date. Finding an officiant should coincide with finding a wedding venue. Remember you will need to book early if you are getting married in peak wedding season i.e. Spring or Summer.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the person doing your ceremony. A trusted pastor, priest, or even a close friend is always best. If you don’t know the officiant well, ask to meet a few times before making a decision.

Ask to see the ceremony. If your officiant uses a “canned” ceremony for weddings, you have every right to read what is going to be said.

Always ask about what is included in the wedding officiants cost up front to make sure there are no hidden fees or surprises.

Get everything in a contract or in writing at your last planning session. This protects you if the fees are expensive and you don’t feel the officiant delivered what was promised.

**Make sure you extend an invitation to your rehearsal dinner and/or reception if your officiant doesn’t have to rush off to another ceremony.