Having a pastor at your wedding is beautiful, but often brides and grooms forget that even though they serve the church, it is their job. While pastors are usually thrilled to be asked to do weddings, the conversation of money is definitely a tricky one! This is especially true when there is confusion on costs on the bride and groom’s part.
So, how much do you pay a pastor for a wedding? Every pastor will have a cost that is usually referred to as a service fee. That fee will change in number and has a very wide range depending on a number of factors. Although, brides and grooms can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $800 to have their preferred pastor signing off on their marriage.
Those numbers may be shocking to you, or it may sound just about right.
For those who thought it was free, let’s talk about this fee.
At least that way, you can better understand it, set your expectations, and plan your finances.
Besides, there’s a lot to pay for when it comes to weddings.
How Much Does A Pastor Charge For a Wedding?
You may have grown up going to your local church with the same pastor since you were a little kid. It may be your dream to have your pastor be at your wedding and officiate it. Regardless of the relationship, a pastor will charge somewhere between $200-$800 for their services.
But why is that number have such a huge range?
This is because there are so many factors that could drive the price up from location to personalization to hours needed.
Likely you won’t find a pastor looking at an hourly rate; rather, they normally go with this flat one-time fee.
Something that is very common for a pastor is that they will donate some or all of the money towards the church and advertise the fee as such.
It may go to the upkeep of the church or needed renovations.
Here are the factors we must consider.
In general, there is a baseline for a pastor at the wedding.
While they are not the star of the show, they do need quite a few things for the bride and groom.
Most pastors, even if they know the couple, require a few meet-ups to talk about their religion and their relationship with one another.
This helps them prepare what to say during the greeting and giving the speech before they go along with the bows and the declaration of intent.
If you are getting married at your local church, then you are in luck and don’t have a lot to worry about when it comes to travel time.
However, one of the main factors when it comes to driving that price up has to do with location.
The farther the pastor will have to travel for your wedding, the more expensive it gets because, the more time away from the church they will have to take.
If it is so far that they will need to stay overnight, you can guarantee that you will most likely have to pay their hotel bill and gas, but that number will be a lot closer to $800 than $200.
The more time you want to spend with your pastor focusing on the wedding and your relationship with the groom, the more it will cost.
This adds a level of personalization to the wedding that is really sweet as it comes through in the speech that the pastor will make.
Any special and additional requests of the pastor outside of a typical ceremony will also be a driving factor in price.
If you have unique ceremony rituals that require more effort and planning, expect the rate to go up.
Who Pays the Pastor At A Wedding?
Traditionally speaking, the groom pays for the pastor and the marriage license. But this tradition is not always followed. Nowadays, donations from the wedding or use of registry funds are ways brides and grooms pay their pastor.
Things have certainly changed over the years.
And this includes who pays for the various different elements of the wedding.
For the pastor, consider these ideas.
Just like it was polite in the olden days to have the man buy your dinner, it was also polite for him to pay for the marriage license and officiant if he was the one who asked you to marry him.
This is still a popular choice, but sometimes the bride and groom just go straight down the middle or use their joint accounts to pay the pastor.
Also part of the tradition is having parents pay for all things wedding, so this is not out of the question either.
Donations From The Wedding
Sometimes a pastor will actually not charge a fee but instead ask the bride and groom to allow them to accept donations throughout the wedding night in exchange for their services.
Sometimes this works out in their favor, and they are able to make a lot more than just their usual set service fee.
On The Registry
Creatively couples have allowed guests of the wedding to share this expensive by adding it to their registry.
Friends and family can either pay it outright or contribute portions of money towards the bill.
This is an easy way of saving money and is a gift that is practical.
Should You Tip A Pastor For A Wedding?
You should tip your wedding pastor. This is one of the few positions that you should really tip, even if their service fee is high.
With many of the services being iffy on whether you need to tip or not, this is not one of those questionable positions.
The pastor does a lot of work and has a significant job in your wedding as you quite literally cannot marry without them.
This may all sound really funny to you because some people think having a pastor officiate their wedding is free because of their love for love. Nope.
How Much Should You Tip a Pastor for a Wedding?
There is no real right and wrong when it comes to tipping your pastor, but the general consensus is minimal $50 and up from there. 20% of their service fee is a good general rule of thumb to stick to.
Something that you can do if money becomes an issue is to combine money tipping with gift-giving to show your appreciation for everything they have done.
Cash Over Giftcards
While cash is the best thing, you can opt for getting them a gift card on top of the cash to a local restaurant to show your appreciation.
Cash ultimately is always better than gift cards because it can be tough to know what they do and do not like.
Local restaurants or coffee and tea shops are always some of your best guesses.
If you know your pastor well, there is nothing better than a cash tip along with a card and a personal gift.
This may be something like champagne glasses from your wedding or a bottle of wine with a personalized message on the bottle celebrating your wedding date.
This will be a nice way for the pastor to remember your special day and how they were a part of that.
If money becomes tight, you can always bake them something like cookies or brownies if that is something they like.
This is not in replacement of the tip but rather an addition that isn’t a gift that costs money.
Pay Your Pastor
If you were among those that thought your pastor would marry you for the joy of pure love, then you weren’t the only one, so don’t worry.
Many people feel this way, but once you go over some of the basic information, then it makes sense why you should pay them.
Pastors will have their own service fees that align with the church and may even be used as donations to the church for things like upkeep and renovations of the church.
If a pastor’s fee is too high, it is perfectly acceptable for a couple to tell the pastor that they can’t afford them and will have to look for other options.
While pastors generally cost between $200 to $800, the fee normally goes up and up when the venue location is far away, or the ceremony becomes a lot more personalized and requires extra work and attention.
Even if the service fee is high, the bride and groom still should tip.
Tipping at 20% is normal and can often be combined with gifts and/or a card to express your gratitude towards the pastor.
Traditionally speaking, the groom would offer to pay, but nowadays, couples are more creative by adding this fee to their registry to help cut the bill down.
While other roles in your wedding may be questioned about their prices and tipping, the pastor, however, is not one of them.
You should pay and tip the pastor for your wedding.
Other guides you may want to read:
- How To Ask A Pastor To Officiate Your Wedding? [Appropriately]
- How To Get Married In A Church You Don’t Belong To
- How Long Is A Church Wedding? [What To Expect]
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!