• PolskaPiano
    Posts: 198
    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?
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  • 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.
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck AngelaR
  • Settefrati93
    Posts: 175
    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
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,597
    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.
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  • 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.

    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • stulte
    Posts: 262
    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.

    I should clarify that we received $380 total. I kept $240 and gave $140 to my singer who chanted with me.
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  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    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.
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  • 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?
    Thanked by 2MarkS cesarfranck
  • 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?
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • how much do you think they are paying for the dress?
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    $250 in today's $ would have been $35 just under 50 years ago.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,933
    250-500 depending on extra musicians/rehearsals
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,350
    It should be at least as much as the musicians at the reception are getting. :-)
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 198
    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: 602
    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: 10,597
    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
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 198
    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: 10,597
    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: 117
    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.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 290
    $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: 703
    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: 1,229
    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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  • Sk1972
    Posts: 3
    Please allow me draw a parallel.....

    When you hire a master electrician to work in your house, you pay for the best. A master electrician.

    Or a plumber.

    What would you pay for private music lessons with one of the best music teachers in your area?

    A visit with a medical professional?

    The best interior decorator to come design your living room?

    I've been a church organist for 28 years. I hold bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in music. I've probably played close to 200 weddings and 150 funerals.

    Lots of you are just like me, where you live. Masters, experienced experts at what you do.

    If a doctor earns ($300?) A visit.......and a master plumber earns ($100 a service call plus $150 an hour?) Etc etc.........does a master organist deserve $300 for the consult, hunting down whatever music the bride and her mother want, practice time, wedding rehearsal, and wedding?

    That's at least 3 hours of work. Probably closer to 5.
    $300 is a bargain.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,933

    Yes. Unfortunately, plumbing and electricity are considered 'essential services' this side of heaven, while Mass and sacraments (and their respective music) are not. Just wait till we are sitting on the bench of the big pipe organ in the sky. 'Essential' will be an entirely different matter then, and the government that is in place here will most likely be completely overhauled up there.
    Thanked by 2bhcordova tomjaw
  • Elmar
    Posts: 240
    I've never heard that music for a wedding is considered non-essential; point in question is rather how much (or little) it may cost.
  • My fee for weddings is at least $250, more if the people are obviously well off. Also, I will charge less in the case of obvious impecuniarity - such as university students or recent graduates - unless it appears that they aren't at all needy. I've never had anyone complain, though I have had a very few who tried to find someone 'less expensive'. When people spend thousands on wedding garments, flowers, and reception entertainment and food, I feel no qualms at all about a mere two or three hundred.

    When i was a student we thought that charging $35 or so was daring - then it came to pass that $50 was really up there. (Of course, in those days petrol was 25 cents a gallon.)

    (And I do not spend time
    ...hunting down whatever music the bride and her mother want...
    First, I will decide whether it is acceptable, then, if it is acceptable, I will have them be responsible for getting the music to me at least a week before the wedding if it isn't in my library.)
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,933
    My fee has ranged between free to $2500 (arrangements for chamber orchestera including string quartet, trumpet (doubling on flugelhorn and coronet), organ and cantor with custom arrangements for every piece). Don't sell yourself short of your expertise and the timeless value of sacred music... the reception will be forgotten, but the wedding will be remembered into eternity.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 189
    how much do you think they are paying for the dress?

    Forget the dress price. The standard price for basic bridal alterations for a wedding dress start at $400. That’s your basic run of the mill shortening the dress and making it fit better that every dress needs.

    Personally, if I ever become a bride (which I doubt will ever happen), I would be prepared to pay up to $500 for a competent organist without complaint. IMHO, $200 seems low. If someone has a genuine financial need, you can lower/waive your fee. Perhaps offer a discount for not choosing Canon in D as a Processional.
  • Sk1972
    Posts: 3
    Just to clarify-my points have nothing to do with the world health situation.

    Regarding people's income-does anyone think a DJ, florist, seamstress, or anyone associated with a wedding has a floating fee schedule based on the couple's income?

    "UM.....I can only pay XYZ for your reception hall."
    "Then go rent a fire company social quarters. Or have it in your backyard. Bye bye now."

    We are professionals, do not sell us short. If you do, you're lowering the potential paychecks of the rest of us.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,597
    There isn't nearly enough money in the world to encourage me to put up with brides and families. I have contracted weddings out for years and those organists can charge whatever they like. I will play one rarely for a close friend but don't usually charge for that.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,885
    Regarding people's income-does anyone think a DJ, florist, seamstress, or anyone associated with a wedding has a floating fee schedule based on the couple's income?

    But I can shop around for a DJ (Not that I needed one!).
    The florist was the one the chapel recommended and they also suggested we split the cost of the flowers with the couple using the chapel in the afternoon, although once again it is normal to look for one you like and can afford.
    Wedding clothes, are once again a competitive market with all price ranges catered for.
    Wedding venues are the same, various price ranges, even if you are getting married in a church.
    The problem for church musicians is it it not a competitive market, they usually come with the church. We all have our own arrangements, some places you must employ their choir and their organist, etc.. With no normal competition, we end up with our present system that fails so many musicians.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Sk1972
    Posts: 3
    Good point, tomjaw. I can always refuse and polite say, "No hard feelings, please, by all means, hire your own organist." That's fair. I would gladly forgo a bench fee.

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • .
    Thanked by 2Elmar francis
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,229
    Thanked by 2Elmar francis
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,406
    Indeed, Greg -
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 863
    Uh oh, MJO storm warning. :-)