Saturday, July 16, 2011

What does it cost to get the church for a wedding or funeral . .

A report indicates that a proposal to raise the fee for funerals and weddings in the Church of England has failed.  I did not even know they had fees!  The current fees will remain for now...

Rite                Current Fee            Proposed Fee (not adopted)
Funeral            £102   ($161)              £150    ($238)
Wedding          £284   ($450)              £450    ($713)

Hummm.... The argument for the raise in fees is that this would preclude those churches that charger HIGHER fees?!?!  The argument against it, well, I don't need to tell you that...

We do not have set fees but we do ask folks at weddings to cover some of the cost of the custodian and to compensate the church musician.  Honorariums for Pastors are all over the place (personally, I have received nothing to more than $1000 for both weddings and funerals -- gifts of the family and not fees requested).  I have mixed feelings about this.  I, for one, would skip the fees for the funeral but I do know that there are many costs associated with weddings (including the fact that with pictures and dressing at the church, it is not unusual for the wedding party to use the facility for 6-8 hours at a time).  Also, the costs shelled out for dresses, tuxes, flowers, photos, videos, limos, reception, etc... make me wonder if it is so unreasonable to ask the couple for some of the actual cost to the church.  But I have mixed feelings about this, as well.

What think you all on the subject of honorariums, fees, and other costs for weddings?  (Lets just skip the subject of funerals -- except to say that if you have a church cemetery you might be more justified in fees associated with opening and closing the grave.)


Anonymous said...

Wedding Fees

Organist: $60, with soloist $85
Custodian $30
Pastor: No Fee
Church Use: No Fee

Only members of our parish can be
married at our LCMS church

Janis Williams said...

Reasonable to ask compensation for custodian, heat/air, and probably organist/musician. If the parish is not "muzzling the ox," then fees for the pastor are not necessary.

By definition, an honorarium is equivalent to a fee. However, if the couple/family wishes to gift the pastor, then it is gracious of them.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

The only Lutheran church cemeteries in my area carge nominal fees or don't charge for plots at all. I consider funerals a part of the ministry of the church and so no honoraiums are expected for myself, however I do expect this for musicians because they're usually taking time off from work, etc. to be there. In most cases families of the deceased pay a lump sum to the funeral home/mortuary and they in turn hand out the honorarium.

Weddings are a different matter, minimum $50.00 for any staff or church volunteers involved in the service. We do not charge for the use of the church or parish hall for a wedding; only members or family of members may have weddings here.

As Janis said, I prefer to keep the term honorarium at arms length, and call it a gift-at least for myself. This keeps it voluntary for those of modest means.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me in this day and time people only see the need for Church when they want a big fancy wedding and, if they have no home Church of their own, seek out the "prettiest" Church in their town (to make for a good back drop for pictures). With that being said...

Organist: $85 to $100 (depending on how detailed the wedding party gets with selected music)
Custodian: $50 to $100 (depending on the size of the area that will have to be cleaned)
Pastor: $100
Church Fee: For Members: No Charge; For Non-Members: $150

Anonymous said...

Charging people for such things is one thing I find absolutely appalling. When my husband and I got married, he had been a member for many years and faithfully tithing to support the church. There was no fee except for the organist. He gave the pastor a nice honorarium but it wasn't required.

The whole concept of allowing non members to be married in the church is somewhat distasteful unless there is some really legitimate reason like they are LCMS members nearby but their home congregation is meeting at the local elementary school because there was a flood, tornado, or renovation etc. But allowing total the non affiliated and then charging is just crass.

Charging the very people who support the ministry is like a son charging his mother for her breakfast when she comes for a visit. The members of the congregation keep the lights on, pay the custodians, the pastor etc., already. They are glad to do it. They are glad that it means there is a place for less affluent fellow members to have a place for their weddings and funerals. Charging specifically is a poke in the eye to every member of the congregation.

What is next? Shall we pay for baptisms? for communion?


Meanwhile the huge beautiful Episcopal church here has lovely organ concerts free to the public, but charges its own members $1500 for a wedding. Shameful.

rev_af_col said...

We have suggested amounts for weddings for the organist, janitor, but not for pastor. For funerals, we have nothing set, but most funeral homes suggest an amount.

I for many years have simply taken whatever I received as honorarium for funerals and sent it on to the seminary or other LCMS organization or RSO.

Anonymous said...

"Also, the costs shelled out for dresses, tuxes, flowers, photos, videos, limos, reception, etc... make me wonder if it is so unreasonable to ask the couple for some of the actual cost to the church."

What about frugal folks, who manage to tithe but spend almost no money on their wedding? We got plain wedding bands at the pawn shop. I made my own cake, bouquet, dress, bridesmaids dresses, and a friend took pictures for free. We didn't even spend $500 including rings, tuxes, dresses, flowers, and the rest. Cake and drinks in the parish hall and nothing more.

Terry Maher said...

An honorarium is not by definition equivalent to a fee. It is a payment made ex gratia, the legal term meaning "by grace" or "by favour" there being no predetermined fee or any obligation to pay it, hence the term honorarium, something paid out of honour.

Sue said...

I understand the feelings of some that it is wrong to charge for weddings. However, sometimes a lot of folks spend a lot of time over 2 days before, during, and after the wedding. Set-up, clean-up, letting folks in at various times (florist, wedding party, etc.), the rehearsa. And just being there since someone from the church needs to be there to keep watch, answer questions, etc. I am wedding coordinator for my church. This is a non-negotiable position and required fee. I get $100 for member weddings and $125 for non-member (done sparingly - for example parents of children in our preschool who are not members). I felt a bit guilty about this for a while, but now that I've done several weddings and see the inordinate number of hours involved, I don't feel bad at all. Particularly for the over-the-top "show" weddings. (Some of those folks spend huge sums on everything, then balk at the relatively small fees we charge.) We also charge $50 for a custodian. We have not but will start charging for someone to turn on and monitor the sound system. I don't have the time to deal with that on top of my other duties. (Well, I can turn it on, but there's more to it than that.) There are fees for the organist and the pastor (which I don't remember off the top of my head). I have spent 12 hours or more on some weddings, and have a couple of times had to take time off from work. I have had to be at church as early as 10 am for a 4 pm wedding (they wanted to be there early to dress, then take pictures elsewhere and then come back for more pictures). In certain circumstances I think we would waive some of the fees. And anyone involved is allowed to waive their fee as a gift to the couple.

I agree that some folks just want a pretty church. One of the weddings I did was for a relative of a member (never did know who). It was clear most of the wedding party as well as the folks attending were unaccustomed to being in a Lutheran church (or any church, for that matter). I especially don't have a problem with getting paid in these circumstances.

I would not serve as wedding coordinator without getting paid. It uses up a huge chunk of my weekend. I do enjoy it, but still feel it's quite reasonable to be compensated for my work (for basically close to minimum wage).

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

If the folks being married are members of the Church, they should already have been supporting the Church. No Charge.

Janis Williams said...

Honorarium: n. a payment given for professional services that are rendered nominally without charge.

ORIGIN: mid 17th century: from Latin, denoting a gift being made on being admitted to public office; from honorarius.

I stand corrected. By definition it is not a fee...

Anonymous said...

Attention Janis

Your humility in saying "I Stand
Corrected" is admirable. There are
not many people on the Blog/Message
Boards who would ever say that.

It seems everyone wants to be right
and they become obsessed with their
point of view. Congratulations
on the lack of an EGO problem. May
the Lord bless your day.

Anonymous said...

What I find "absolutely appalling" is the fact that it bothers no one to "use" the Church. It's ok to spend $1,000 + on a dress, $$ on a cake, $$ on caterers, $$ tuxes, $$ limo, $$$$$ open bar (gotta have an open bar), $$$ on a photographer, and $$$$$$$ on a honeymoon, but the mere mention of giving the Church a dime for the services provided for a wedding and everyone is up in arms!!

Do you know what is cost to heat/cool a Church? And, you know, if the Church is not cool/warm for the wedding heads are going to roll.

Do you know what is cost to pay the custodian? And, this person is going to have to come in an extra day for this clean up... these people do their job M-F to make sure the Sanctuary is ready for Sunday... most weddings being on Saturday means they have to do their job twice.

Then there is the Rector/Pastor/Preacher/Brother whatever you call him.... he/she works M-F (with Sat. off); M-T (with Friday off); point being the man/woman gets one day off per week, so you are asking them to work on their day off.... then you don't want to pay him/her!!

As for Baptisms... they happen during a Church service, most of the time.... no cost, no cost no matter when they occur.

Funerals... most people who want their funeral at the Church are members of that Church... and are active members... the Church, Rector, Pastor Preacher does not charge for this service, but most people will give a "gift" for this service.

The Church in a non-profit.... yet people expect the Church do everything... feed the poor, help people with their light bills, rent, gas, and expect the Church doors to be open for business M-Sun; free weddings, etc.... it's funny how people don't mind giving to baseball little league, their local human society, etc... but don't think twice about not tithing to their Church any Church but expect the Church to be there for them when they have a WANT or need.