Note: Wedding Officiant Honorarium (Fee) Guide does not only pertain to a Jewish Wedding . It can pertain to all other Life cycle events such as… Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Bris, Baby Naming for newborn boys and for newborn Girls , Funeral, Unveiling and any other Jewish life cycle ceremony.
The facts listed below are mostly focused on the Jewish wedding, Spiritual Wedding ceremonies, but other life cycle ceremonies relate and have, if not more details to cover.
The Jewish Wedding Rabbi says…Whether you know the Officiant beforehand or not, by the time the Officiant marries you, you will feel like you have known one another for all time! I always feel a very special bonding with the couples I marry. Your Officiant is a very vital part of the Wedding Day.
Marriage License, Rabbi, Wedding Officiant Registered?
To have a Ceremony, it is required, the law in fact, to have a Marriage License and the ceremony conducted and signed by a legal Representative of the State. This deems you legally married as per Marriage Laws. This is true for Destination Weddings as well. Every Rabbi or Wedding Officiant of a local Jewish Temple or not, would sign the marriage license and required to send it into the County Clerk’s Office to be recorded. Even though your Ketubah, Jewish marriage contract was signed by two witnesses, and you received blessings under the Chuppah, the wedding canopy, you will not be legally married by State Marriage Laws, only by Jewish law.
So, whether you have anything else or not, in your plans for The Wedding Day, choosing an Officiant is a #1 priority, and the honorarium (fee) for you, the couple – whatever it may be – should be considered a very small part of the overall expense, with the greatest of importance, of the extra special occasion, your wedding day.
Definition of Honorarium (Fee)
Honorariums (Fee) – can range from $850 the minimum to an extreme amount of $2500 not including travel arrangements.
- Payment that is given to a professional for services which are fees for services. It is not a myth, a Rabbi, Cantor, spiritual wedding officiant is also a professional. They attended years of schooling to do what they do best. Judaism promotes marriage of Clergy and be part of Society in a relatable way.
- A Rabbi is 1% – 2% of your entire wedding budget.Guidelines to Common Questions Heard by ClergyQ: “What is your wedding officiant budget?”
A: “I do not know.”Its difficult to create a budget for the officiant, but based on what feels right after you speak, meet and how you visualize your officiant will conduct your wedding ceremony after that conversation or meeting, is the best way to figure it all out.Emails are usually the first communication with an officiant in our age of technology as we know it today. Clergy, officiants, have web sites because it is where most now look to find what one is seeking. It is no longer a culture shock to find your Rabbi, wedding officiant online.Common Email Question
Q:“Can you provide a quote on how much for your services?”
Often times, it would not be a common practice to provide a quote in an email.
The reasoning is that your Rabbi, Cantor is still a clergy person in spite of technology. Technology is serving the needs to find those that you may not have had access too. Especially, when you are not connected to a temple, or a synagogue, the internet is serving a purpose. Today, the Clergy are more accessible. It is best to go through the process and speak on the telephone, discuss the details, ask questions and arrange a possible meeting. You may just be speaking or meeting your wedding officiant.
by the time the Officiant marries you, you will feel like you have known one another for all time! Your Officiant is a very vital part of the Wedding Day.
A small percentage that has the greatest impact to a lifetime of happiness as husband and wife.
- If the Rabbi has a set Honorarium (Fee), it is to cover the time devoted to you, the couple in the planning stages for your wedding. If it is a set amount, it is due to many factors:
- in-person meetings with travel time
- and now, yes, Skype or Facetime conferencing
- a Clergy is connected to technology; iPhone, iPad, Android? The iPad is beginning to replace the traditional ceremony binder, but still a concern if the battery is not charged to full capacity.
- to physically be there on the day of your wedding and to officiate your wedding ceremony.
- to be sure all of the Jewish Wedding ceremony elements are observed and led in the utmost respect of Jewish Law and utmost respect for the wedding couple for they are raised up in joy.
- making sure your Ketubah, your Jewish marriage contract is proofed with the proper text as observed by Jewish Law, also historically known as the first marriage license way before the court systems were establised as we know it today
- to sign your State Marriage License for they have the Authority to make your Marriage Legal as per State Marriage Laws.
- travel is an important factor for your officiate to be at your venue location and built into the fee for local tri-state traveling. However, it is customary for additional travel costs for destination, and or long distance travel.
- the ultimate conclusion, to give you the spiritual connection to what marriage is…uniting two soul mates with G-d’s blessings.
If you happen to read on the wedding forums posting complaints about the Honoarium (Fee) for the Clergy, the above points are often not realized before posting.
Understanding the Differences:
Congregational Rabbi with a Congregation vs. Independent Rabbi, Cantor, Wedding Officiant Without a Congregation
- A Congregational Rabbi or Cantor who is hired with a signed contract receives a set salary which the Congregational Member or Family pays. The Rabbi or Cantor’s services, officiating your wedding ceremony really is not free. In fact, it is customary to give an additional donation on your wedding day to the Congregational Rabbi or Cantor along with your Mmembership Dues.
- An Independent Rabbi or Cantor is not under Contract at a set Synagogue or Temple, or having a set congregation receiving a set salary, based on membership dues.Their salary is received per ceremonial services. When a request to lower their fee, after a set fee is in place, it makes it to be a difficult decision. Usually, the set fee was put into place because so many requests came in asking for a set fee as opposed to the acceptance of a donation.
It will not always fall under Tzedakah – acts of giving, which became interwoven into the basic foundation of Jewish society. It is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life. Unless it is spoken of in the same conversation when a couple asks, “How much?”
- An Independent Rabbi or Cantor is working to keep the connection to Judaism outside the temple walls. Each couple, each family has a need to a life cycle ceremony and when that time is near, it is just as important. Embrace and welcome
How to offer the honorarium to the Rabbi Wedding Officiant?
- An honorarium deposit reserves your wedding date on the Rabbi’s or Wedding Officiant’s calendar. This offers peace of mind to the couple that they indeed have their Rabbi wedding officiant secured for their wedding day.
Below is merely a guide on a a range of proper Honorariums (Fees) for life cycle ceremonies.
- Baby Namings: ranges from 400 – 650
- Unveiling’s: ranges from 400 – 600
- Funerals: Built in with the Funeral Arrangements via Funeral Homes
- Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs: Lessons averages 85 a lesson, but when a ceremony is included, a proper honorarium (Fee) can be presented cover preparations, materials, day of Ceremony and all other elements.
- The Jewish Wedding Rabbi wants to point out that each Rabbi offer differences in style, presentation, warmth, joy, love, comfort, charisma, appearance and energy. Lets not forget Romantic and simple to you the couple, because the Rabbi, Cantor and or wedding officiant does what they do best! Weddings leading to Marriages!
- It is the wedding ceremony that makes the marriage happen. 98%-99% is everything else that makes your wedding day beautiful.
The Jewish Wedding Ceremony has a specific order. The customs, the required items needed for the ceremony can significantly connect a couple’s family trees. There are many opportunities for the Rabbi to guide, advise and write-into the ceremony text. Each couple is unique, so your ceremony should reflect both or you, your family, your traditions and so much more. If personalization is important for your wedding ceremony, then that is the type of Rabbi or Wedding Officiant you are seeking. If an Auf Ruf Aliyah– the pre-wedding Jewish custom takes place, it may be an honorarium to consider pertaining to the wedding budget. Discuss an Auf Ruf when meeting with the Rabbi who is to be the Officiant for your wedding.
A Rabbi, a Wedding Officiant – What Should Be Expected?
Today, a Rabbi is more than only your wedding officiant on your wedding day. Considerations:
- Your wedding day ceremony including the Ketubah signing/Badeken (required-of course)
- Meetings with the couple (required)
- Availability – for meetings, telephone conversations and now with the internet – emails
- Guidance on the customs, rituals and preparations
Destination Weddings or Long Distance Traveling for the Rabbi
It is customary for the wedding couple to provide travel arrangements including the honorarium. Remember, the honorarium is for the pre-ceremony preparations, meetings and at times, materials including the day of the ceremony. Making a memorable moment is what matters most. Rabbi Andrea Frank, the Jewish Wedding Rabbi cannot stress enough that the Rabbi you reserve for your life cycle ceremony should only require arrangements around the time frame of the ceremony. If a Rabbi extends their stay due to such beautiful locations as Mexico, St. Thomas, even California for example, then it is their out-of-pocket expense and responsibility. Also, if clergy requires for their spouse to travel with them, again, it is their out-of-pocket responsibility and not the the couple. That includes meals, unless the hotel or resort is all-inclusive. Travel, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, parking garage fees is all that a couple should cover. If a couple or family invites and includes the Rabbi, Cantor or Wedding Officiant to the reception, this is a kind gesture. A Rabbi will feel blessed to be part of the festivities. If the reception is not Kosher, that is okay. All vegetables, fruit and certain types of fish are. It is always best to have the Rabbi travel the day before and the day after the wedding ceremony, mostly for peace of mind for the couple. Again, this does depend on the time frame of the ceremony and the transportation companies’ schedules.
Will the Rabbi Wedding Officiant Show Up?
A bride and groom can only pray that not only the clergy, but that all on their special day go as smoothly as possible. It is best to type a call sheet list. The all important telephone numbers along with a well charged cell phone. i.e. clergy, florist, photographer, limo service etc. The Jewish Wedding Rabbi states that your officiant should be communicating with you the week of your wedding day. This offers peace of mind to the couple; confirms the all important details; as well as if any changes had occurred.
Be prepared for it may or may not happen. Check with the caterer, for a list of clergy for an emergency. This all important question and list is usually overlooked when meeting with the caterer by couples. Most caterers usually have a good relationship with local clergy that can step in within short notice. This may delay the ceremony since the couple would need to discuss important details, but most likely the ceremony will go well. Trust that the wedding day was planned to every detail, but to not lose focus on the most important element of this special day. Remove all the material items, the details, the schedules etc. and ask yourself what is left…is it wedding memories – yes, but more importantly, the marriage!
Two people joined together in the union of marriage is with G-d’s blessings. Mazel Tov!