Choral Wedding Fees
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 148
    I've never held another position where choral nuptial Masses were the norm. Even our volunteer singers are entitled to an honorarium for weddings, which they're free to decline. Despite the wording currently in our policy about "separate checks for each singer/musician," we have couples/families who want to make a "lump sum" payment for music. I really don't see it as my place to make electronic payments (no, not everyone in the choir accepts them!), write personal checks, or make change for a dozen or so singers for each wedding. If we go through the church accountant, there are tax complications. After all, the singers are performing a service for the couple, not for the parish or me. How do others handle this? What is "best practice"? Should I charge a modest bookkeeping fee if a couple wants me to write their checks for them?
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 529
    Here (choir school) we charge $2k for a wedding choir in addition to the usual organist fee. This will be somewhere from 10-20 trebles depending on who volunteers, and they succeed in being photogenic and singing a rip-roaring Panis Angelicus or what have you. Keeping it to S(A) is easier than opening to SATB, since participation is voluntary and this way we are guaranteed a workable and loud ensemble instead of 10 B, 6 T, 1 A, 4 S. Some goes to the conductor, some to the school, and then the boys get somewhere from $10-20 depending on how many show. The couple pays the music office and it is put into the payroll system for the adults and also converted to cash for the kids. There are probably 10 choral weddings a year, so the price is about right for our market.

    In past jobs, for choral weddings, staff singers got usual fee or usual-plus. Always the money went to the church, and the accountant processed it through payroll.

    Unless you yourself are incorporated as FSSPMusic LLC and have the singers on the books as your W2 employees, and you’re cool with paying the payroll tax, I would be very, very worried about taking cash/check from a family and dividing it up for the singers. You open yourself up to an audit and possible punishment if you aren’t reporting it as 1099 income, and the same goes for the singers if they haven’t given you a W9 and are also reporting it as 1099. The self-employment tax really takes a bite out of any such income.

    The right way to do it really is to have a lump sum payment to the church, who then deducts Medicare/SS and pension if applicable, and then puts the right amount on each W2 employee’s paycheck. That covers everyone’s rear ends, gives each person the most take-home pay (maybe not at the beginning, but definitely after the IRS refunds are mailed out). And I find it more pleasant to not have to chase couples myself for money.


    The way I think about it, the singers are singing for God, all the time; they are employed by the church to do that and you oversee them. Whether it’s Sunday Mass or a wedding or a funeral or anything else, they are the choir of St. X Church. The couple has decided to make the church schedule an extra Mass and so they bear all costs (priest’s Mass stipend, sacristan, gas and lights, and music), but it’s still a Mass at St. X Church and the choir is an essential part of the Mass, just like on Sunday. So to me there’s no reason to make a distinction between services to a couple and services to a parish.
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