Let’s face it, getting married is an expensive business, right? You’ve got so much to plan for and so much to pay out and a budget that will only go so far, sound familiar?
With every enquiry I receive I can guarantee that the question “What is your fee?” or “How much do you charge for a 30 minute ceremony?” is asked within the first few minutes of conversation and with the answer follows one of three things:
- “The other celebrant is cheaper”
- “HOW MUCH?!”
Sometimes all three or other negative responses, which is ok, I can understand it may seem a high price and of course we all like a bargain or a good deal and it’s always good to ask the cost of a product or service beforehand, you would be silly not to.
But there is another thing people tend to say and that is “So you charge X amount for a 30 minute ceremony?” and it’s this question that frustrates us celebrants because there is no such thing as a 30 minute ceremony! Our fee doesn’t just cover us rocking up to your venue to dictate a generic ceremony copied from the internet and then leave 30-mins later!
The thing is, we actually work really hard and earn our fee for what is the most important part of your day, the heart of your day – Your Ceremony! Without it your day would be just a party!
Ok let’s break it down a little and see exactly what you are paying for when you book a celebrant, and in this instance I will use myself an example.
When you book Sylvia Brown, your Suffolk family and wedding celebrant, first and foremost what you get is a happy, friendly person who is passionate about her job and who will go above and beyond to make sure every element is 100% perfect. I will work closely with you for the entire duration from booking to the big day.
I will meet with you and discuss in detail how you would like your ceremony to go and what content and material you would like included. I will begin to build a picture of you both as individuals and as a couple and I will ask you to fill out an “About us” couples quiz / questionnaire. With this information and with unlimited contact I will create a bespoke, unique to you, ceremony reflecting your personalities, your hopes and dreams, and your aspirations for your future together.
This process takes a lot of hours of not only writing but sourcing relevant readings and material and only when I feel happy with it will I reveal the first draft to you. We will then go through it together and change or tweak any parts until we are all 100% happy with the finished script, and this is your personal ceremony which will be delivered by me in a heartfelt and passionate manner that will resonate with all of your guests and create an everlasting memory.
Nope that’s not all! So that’s the writing and delivery of the ceremony, but what else does my fee cover?
Well I am fully trained and belong to the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants which is one of the largest organisations of celebrants in the UK and Europe, and who have extensive knowledge and experience as well as more than adequate insurance cover for each of their celebrant members.
I will also collaborate and communicate with your venue and all of your other chosen wedding services to ensure we are all on the same page and that the day runs smoothly. I will not double book the date so that you can be confident that if a problem did occur I would not be on a restricted time scale or have to rush off to another job.
I will be happy to have a rehearsal before the day and help with seating set up, choreography and briefing to ensure that everyone is happy and knows where they are meant to be on the day to avoid any confusion or muddle. I will arrive an hour early on the big day to ensure everything is on track, to reassure you both and help calm any nerves you may have. I will provide any props or items needed for the ceremony along with random items that may help such as tissues for the happy tears!
So not only does the fee cover the planning, writing and delivery of the most fantastic personal ceremony and all the bits you see, it also covers the boring bits you don’t see! I am independent and am running a one-person business, and like all other businesses there are many factors to consider before I even begin to earn a living wage.
Right from the start there were outgoing fees such as training and other start up costs. Then there is marketing and advertising, website building and maintenance, not forgetting promotional material, business cards/leaflets. And then there is wedding directory monthly memberships, wedding fair exhibiting and a whole host of regular outgoings. Running and maintaining a reliable vehicle, up to date phone and PC. Then we have office supplies of good quality paper for ceremony and certificates plus the printer and ink and all this has to run from an office in which I have to pay rent, electricity and heating for.
And finally I have myself to think about! I have to have a good working wardrobe and have a broad choice of ceremony outfits for all styles so that I always look professional and presentable.
The list really could go on but I hope this has put to bed the issue or question that most couples raise when considering booking a celebrant.
A good way to think about it is to imagine you are going to buy all you need for your wedding at a supermarket, ‘Your one stop wedding shop!’ You would have choices like you do when buying food, there would be the ‘Finest’ range, which is the most expensive, the ‘Brand’ range, which is the fairly priced range and then you would have the ‘Basic/value’ range, which is the cheapest.
You wouldn’t buy your wedding dress and suit, your cake and flowers from the basic range or pay for the cheapest venue, photographer or food, because you know that just wouldn’t do, and you wouldn’t blow the budget on the ‘finest’ range either and its exactly the same when it comes to your ceremony because it is the heart of your day, the part that everybody will remember long past how good the food was or how nice the cake tasted, the ceremony, the words and your vows will remain forever.
You get what you pay for… buy wisely!