Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hiring Me

When a couple secures the services of an officiant for their wedding, renewal of vows, or commitment ceremony, the primary consideration should be how good the chemistry is between them and the man or woman who is going to be entering their lives for a brief but very important period of time. Too often, the first question I field is, "How much do you charge?"

It's a loaded question for me, because my rates are very low compared to what is the average going rate here locally. To some, my affordability seems to imply lesser quality. This does not happen to be the case. I am not only a skilled celebrant, but I am also a professional writer by trade. I just happen to think that every couple should have the highest quality ceremony possible, and that price should not hobble what I consider to be my "calling."

For others, any fee quoted above $25 isn't welcome news, and it wouldn't matter how good my work was, the dent the fee put in the beer budget would be of major concern.

My fee is also inclusive -- meaning everything is covered with one figure. I don't bill extra for the rehearsal, mileage, or overtime. I know most officiants have line items that can appear on an invoice, but I do not. I try to select my weddings carefully, based on what will be needed of me in my capacity as officiant, and what the expectations are of the couple.

I try to give a couple as much creative leeway as possible with their ceremony. As a longtime liturgist, I understand the importance of engaging (at least emotionally) the gathered family and guests in what is going on. Therefore, I try to listen carefully to what the couple tells me about what they want, what they may want to do themselves, and what they may want members of the community to do. And, if they simply want to stand quietly while I lead them through some carefully selected words, that's fine, too.

Nobody has to get married or make a public commitment these days. Nobody. So when a couple reaches the point in their lives that they want to say out loud what they have been saying to each other, it's my privilege to be there to help.

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