How Much Will Your Wedding Officiant Cost in 2018?

According to real time data sent through Decidio over the last year, in 2018 couples in the United States can expect to pay an average of $257 to hire theirwedding officiant, which will come out to 0.8% of their total wedding budget. This service ranks number 17 in terms of cost behind renting a tuxedo and getting their bridal hair and makeup done. To review a complete listing of average wedding costs nationwide and in your area, click here.

While the cost to hire someone to officiate your wedding is not one of the major expenses you will incur, it is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions you can make with regards to the wedding ceremony itself. Below you will find real time data on what couples nationwide and in your area have spent on hiring their wedding officiant, a list of factors that you should take into consideration when hiring your officiant, and some fantastic tips on how to get the person you want while not going over budget.

2018 City and State Averages

How much you pay to hire a minister, reverend, or other clergy to officiate your wedding mostly depends on the city and state you live in, whether they will be needed in or out of wedding season, and other factors. The data displayed below reports what couples have spent on average to hire their wedding ceremony officiant over the last year. How does your area compare? *NOTE: This data is continuously updated throughout the year as new quotes go through our system.

The Average Cost of Wedding Officiants by State

StatesAverage Cost
District of Columbia$300
New Hampshire$264
New Jersey$320
New Mexico$210
New York$288
North Carolina$228
North Dakota$206
Rhode Island$274
South Carolina$236
South Dakota$194
West Virginia$210

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What is Included?

Before you even think about researching for someone to officiate your wedding, you first need to agree with your future spouse on what kind of ceremony you plan to have. This will determine everything from what style the ceremony will be, what elements will be included, where the ceremony location will be, and even the type of officiant that is best suited for that style of ceremony. If you are still unsure or undecided, here are your choices:

  • Religious: Traditionally officiated by a religious figure such as a priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other clergy. Although it is not required to have a legal marriage, couples often want to wed according to the customs and traditions of their faith. Although religious services can take place at locations such as a mosque, temple, or church, it is possible for a minister to also hold the ceremony at a nonreligious site.

  • Civil: As opposed to a religious ceremony, civil ceremonies can be officiated by any legal official registered in the state that the wedding will take place such as a notary public, clerk of court, justice of the peace, mayor, magistrate, or judge. The content of civil ceremonies can vary as long as they comply with the laws of the state, and the wedding can take place at any location or venue, provided that your civil officiant is present.

  • Interfaith: For couples that practice different faiths and do not wish to convert to their spouse’s religion, however they do wish to add elements of each faith into the ceremony itself. The best way for this to happen is to have a joint ceremony presided by a clergy of each religion. This type of ceremony respects both religions and incorporates elements of each that do not conflict with each other.

  • Same Sex: Depending on what state you live, same-sex marriages can either legally occur or the state will recognize a union that was performed in another state where it is legal. Generally, the type of officiant available to preside over these ceremonies run the gamut from more liberal religious clergy to any civil officiant such as a notary public or justice of the peace. If your state does not recognize gay marriages as legal (regardless of they happened in a state which it is legal), a same sex couple can have a commitment ceremony performed instead which serves many of the same purposes as a traditional ceremony.

Remember that your ceremony is the reason why your wedding is taking place at all. Regardless of the type of wedding ceremony you plan to have or where it will take place, there are some things both you and your selected officiant will have to do in order to ensure you have the kind of ceremony you have always wanted.

  • Do your research. Check online and offline and compile a list of officiants that you feel you can work with. Once you have read their profiles and reviews and have even checked their social media accounts, ask them if they have any videos that shows past ceremonies that they have presided over.

  • Verify that they can legally perform the ceremony. Double check that whomever you choose is ordained in your state or county! Anyone these days can take a course online to become a wedding officiant, but some states have more stringent requirements, and you don’t want to find out after the fact that your marriage isn’t valid. You can click here for information on what your state requires from your wedding officiant. Many states have a number you can call to verify that your officiant is authorized to perform ceremonies in your state.

  • See how compatible you are. Sit down and talk with your prospective officiant about their vision and how they approach the ceremony. Regardless if you want them to handle the entire process or if you want to contribute to the process, how well your beliefs and personalities mesh will set the tone for the ceremony.

  • Personalize your ceremony. A professional wedding officiant will take the time to know you and how you feel about your future spouse. This time together is essential in order to plan a personal ceremony that explains your story in a meaningful way. They should help provide advice and resources in those areas that you may be unsure or need some help such as what should go into your vows or what readings should be included in the ceremony. An experienced minister will also provide a framework for the ceremony that ensures all important elements are included, but is not overly long.

  • Be there for the rehearsal and ceremony. The majority of wedding officiants will require a rehearsal so that the entire wedding party knows where to stand, what to say, and what to do during the ceremony. They should be organized and assertive in directing everyone’s actions but not bossy to the point of turning people off. Ideally the result will be a straight forward process that takes no more than 30 minutes and ensures that everything goes smoothly the day of your wedding. Reputable officiants will also plan to be at the ceremony site 30 minutes before start time.

  • File the paperwork. Your officiant will ask for your marriage license before the ceremony begins and hold it until after it finishes. They will make sure afterwards that two witnesses sign the license to make it official and return it to your state’s register of deeds sometime within the next week.

Key Points to remember:

  • In 2018, you can expect your wedding officiantto charge you an average of $257 to officiate your wedding ceremony, which is roughly 0.8% of an average wedding budget.

  • What you ultimately pay to hire your wedding celebrant will depend on where you live, how involved you want them to be in your ceremony, their level of experience and professionalism, supply and demand factors, and more.

  • The type of officiant you hire largely depends on the type of ceremony you wish to have, whether it be religious, interfaith, civil, or same sex.

  • Both you and your chosen celebrant will work together to plan a ceremony that best reflects your values and beliefs, so it’s extremely important to choose one that matches your personality and style.

Tips on Saving Money on Hiring a Wedding Officiant

Now that you know the cost of hiring a wedding officiant and What’s involved in the process, here are some great ways to stay within budget.

  • Ask your church to waive the fee for pre-marital counseling if you hire your officiant through them.

  • Request for your pre-marital counselor to be your wedding officiant, then deduct their fee from your taxes by getting them to agree to donate it to charity.

  • If your state does not require for your officiant to be licensed and you have no budget to hire someone, ask a good friend to officiate the ceremony.

  • If you have no budget to hire a professional officiant and your state does not require for your wedding officiant to be licensed, then ask a good friend to preside over the wedding. As a bonus, you’ll have one less person to feed at your wedding reception!

  • If you have no money for a traditional wedding with reception, go down with your future spouse to the courthouse to buy your marriage license, then ask what the courthouse schedule is for weddings. This can all be done between 1-3 days and for a minimal fee (usually under $100).

  • If you do have the cost of hiring an officiant as part of your wedding budget and do want to hire someone professional, submit a request for competing quotes on Decidio to see what is the going rate in your area. You can then take the lowest rate, best reviewed, or most experienced candidate that responds.

  • Most major cities have wedding chapels where you can get a package that offers a prewritten ceremony for a fixed price.

  • Some professional officiants will often lower their price if you do not meet with them prior to your wedding day. The downside of this is of course a less personalized ceremony.

  • Hire someone local to avoid paying travel fees on top of what they charge for the service.

  • Having your wedding during a ‘non-wedding season’ month will lower the cost of ALL wedding services you need because there is less demand for those services by other couples.

  • If you know other couples also getting married, see if they would consider hiring the same officiant. If so, you both can negotiate a ‘group rate’ for that person’s services.

  • Visit online on sites like Decidio or offline at your local bridal expo to see which local wedding officiants offer discounts on their services.

  • Hire your wedding officiant (as well as everything else related to your wedding) by using a credit card offering cash back or generous points.

  • You’ll be surprised how often you’ll get a price break by just being nice and asking for one.

Remember that although saving money any way possible on your wedding is important, your ceremony is the most important part of the day and the principal reason why you are getting married in the first place. It is more important to find someone that reflects your personality and spiritual outlook than it is to save a few dollars. That said, once you’ve found the perfect person to officiate your wedding there is nothing wrong with negotiating for the best rate that you both can live with!

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