• I understand this will vary by region and perhaps size of the church.

    I meet with the couple once, plan wedding music with them, email for next few months any questions they have (or continue planning music if not completed at first meeting), rehearse, rehearse with cantor, play preludes 10 minutes or more before wedding, and play the piano and/or organ. If it is only a ceremony and not mass, I will also cantor the psalm and alleluia.

    Regular substitute musicians at my parish are paid $100-125. For a wedding, for the extra time required and the extra music played it seems reasonable to charge $200 but that seems so high. I feel bad when I meet with a couple that are struggling. I question whether this is a reasonable fee for the work done before and during the wedding.

    Would you be willing to share your duties and what you charge?
  • There will be major variations, but $200 is definitely not too much for what you're doing. If anything, you might be low.

    My fees in my current role tend to run $200-350 depending on circumstances (low Mass with organ vs. high Mass with choir, etc.). If I'm going beyond my own parish, the number can grow. Over the course of my wedding playing career (I guess I'm about 18 years deep in that... I started young!), it's ranged from $50 - $500.

    Duties also vary wildly depending on the liturgical complexity. But at a bare minimum, I offer the chance to meet in person, or I send recommendations with sample audio/video via email, and guide them through the music selection process. I direct any choir rehearsals as needed. I do not attend wedding rehearsals unless specifically requested/required. Then I direct/play the wedding. Usually 15 minutes of preludes, processions, Mass parts/music, and recession. If there's a big crowd, I'll throw in an extra postlude.


    With respect to financially struggling couples... if you need to address certain situations case-by-case, then do so. But setting aside that rare exception, I always keep in mind a bit of sage advice a former pastor/boss gave me when my fee was quite low: remember that on the expense sheet for a wedding, the organist's fee is one of the smallest line items. Don't be afraid to charge the price that you think reasonably reflects the effort and value you offer. If they're not willing to pay it, then they can either make other arrangements, or you can negotiate if you feel so inclined.



    Edited to add: we also have a parish policy that if a visiting musician will play in place of the DoM, DoM still receives the usual fee regardless, and retains the right to audition the guest musician. This helps prevent shopping for the cheapest musicians, and ensures quality of music and understanding of the liturgy.
  • Settefrati93
    Posts: 162
    Around here (southwestern CT) the minimum is around $250 for weddings and funerals. I’ve heard of people that charge way more (300-400) for weddings because of all the extra music. Sometimes more if they have to direct and rehearse a small schola.

    A normal subbing job pays around $150
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,516
    We do not allow outside organists, but have an approved list of 4 organists who want to play for weddings. I wont have anything to do with weddings and contract them all out to those on the list. I am over Buffy and Brad and don't remotely care about their "special day." The organists charge anywhere from $150. to $250. and set their own fees. The sound technician also sets his own fees.
  • Two hundred dollars is not at all too much for a wedding, especially when it involves rehearsing with a soloist(s) and/or instrumentalist(s), possibly learning new music, and having consultation(s) with the couple. Less than that would not be adequate.

    My standard fee for a single mass or a wedding is $250, plus another $100-150 for extra rehearsals with any singers or other musicians. If it seems that a nice couple really are dealing with monetary difficulties I will gladly make adjustments to my fees so that they may have a beautiful wedding.

    If, as happens infrequently, the couple are insisting on shabby music they will go elsewhere.

  • stulte
    Posts: 215
    One month ago, I played the organ and cantored for a E.F. wedding. A (skilled) friend sang with me. I requested $350 from the couple and they gave me $380. I gave $140 to my other singer after he and I had agreed on $125 since the couple paid us extra. The organ music was all stuff in my existing repertoire as was the chant. I met with the couple one time prior to the wedding and only had a warmup rehearsal with the other singer a couple hours before the wedding.

    **EDIT**
    I should clarify that we received $380 total. I kept $240 and gave $140 to my singer who chanted with me.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 403
    My standard wedding fee is $200; I make the brides pay also $150 for my cantors, who are required singers.

    As organist, I meet with couple and plan music and Liturgy (usually means explaining how a Mass vs Liturgy is the Word works), provide a template for a program, and perform all music at the wedding. I also sing the Introit and Communion propers with the cantor, a Capella. I would charge more of extra musicians are required; rarely happens in my demographic market.

    I live and work in suburban east coast FL, in a moderately depressed market. I’m on the cusp of raising to $250 for myself.
  • There are various things that one can mention which 'date' one or may be a sign of one's age. Wedding fees may be one of those things.
    How many here can remember when $25 was considered generous, and when starting to ask $35 took some gumption and was considered top tier?
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  • Possibly setting aside the cases of truly needy parishioners, $200 is low. Very low, in my opinion. How much do you think they are paying the photographer?
  • how much do you think they are paying for the dress?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,532
    $250 in today's $ would have been $35 just under 50 years ago.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,967
    250-500 depending on extra musicians/rehearsals
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,440
    It should be at least as much as the musicians at the reception are getting. :-)
  • Thank you for your for your feedback. I do appreciate it.

    I 100% understand they are paying through the nose for everything else. I 100% believe I deserve to get paid for my work, but it is hard for me to not think of it as "paying" for a mass. (I still feel icky with the idea of paying for mass intentions.)
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • @PolskaPiano I understand your feeling completely. I'm sure that I would feel very similarly in your position, and in fact when I get paid to cantor (normally funerals) I donate the money to the church. (I still allow myself to be paid, so that the norm of cantors being paid for this extra service is maintained.) I'm lucky inasmuch as I do not need the money -- my day job pays just fine.

    Still, I think it is a shame that church musicians are in the position of being paid so little for the work that they do.

    By the way, nobody is 'paying for the mass' -- they are paying for the work that you do to help make the mass worthy and beautiful. (Priests get paid as well, and we certainly don't think of their pay as 'pay for mass' but supporting those who make the mass (and much else) possible.)
  • Carol
    Posts: 366
    It is not getting paid for the Mass, it is being paid for all you have done before arriving at Mass, all the education, practice, and preparation before the Mass has begun.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,516
    Think of it as like the electricity bill. You can pay it or sit in the dark.

    Luke 10:7 King James Version (KJV)
    ... for the labourer is worthy of his hire.
    Thanked by 1rogue63
  • all you are saying is indeed, truth.

    Going through a divorce and struggling to make ends meet certain months has grown so much more concern and compassion for the poor than I have ever had. I just met with a bride that is having a very simple wedding and works very hard at a minimum paying job. They're having family do everything from catering to reception. She hadn't asked for a break in my fee, but my heart goes out to her. I like the idea of a case by case basis- when the spirit moves.

    Rambling while I'm waiting for my food to heat up. . .
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,516
    Case by case is fine. I hate weddings but last year played one for a friends daughter (any my former student) to help them out. However, if I know they have the money for the funerals I do play, I don't mind taking it. I solved that issue by having the church office request a set amount for funerals, so there is no negotiation involved.
  • KARU27
    Posts: 88
    I've played weddings as a member of string quartets (or trios, or duos) for roughly 30 years. When I was starting out, I earned about $100 for a wedding. Today, 30 years later, how much do I make for a wedding? About $100. Sometimes $125. I've decided that it just isn't worth it for a good chunk of time on a summer Saturday.
  • Gamba
    Posts: 105
    $200 organ, $150 cantor. Choir and/or schola available for additional (large) donation, which provides for replacement cassocks, more Gregorian Missals, and if necessary, a ringer or two if all tenors are unavailable.

    We are in a rather poor part of the country, and I made more as a student organist in wealthier regions ($250, $275), but this setup is good and non-stressful. All music must be chosen a month out, from a lengthy whitelist; any “special-guest” singers or instrumentalists must actually be professionals and can only perform one or two things, for which I get an extra $75 for rehearsing with them.

    If it was the usual piano-bar situation, with all kinds of special requests and junk, I’d complain and ask for more. But it’s well under control and I’ll be content with the $75 increase I asked for when I took the job last year.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 601
    I charge between $150 and $225 (so far) depending on what I have to do and how much advance notice I get. I live in an area that has a very low cost of living.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,002
    When I was in a mega parish I would do 40 to 80 a year. The set fee was 200. I would certainly make allowances for less affluent couples and sometimes do it for free. However I didn't meet with the couple, we had a CD with all the available music...they got the CD, filled in a form with their selections with the check and we were good to go. It was difficult when they wanted to bring their own musician or organist and usually was a disaster, so we stopped that.
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