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Catholic Weddings

Catholic wedding fees

Has anyone else noticed how outrageous the weddings fees at most churches have become, even for long-time parishioners?? This is a totally new development and I think the Catholic Church should address it. When my brother got married 10 years ago, it didn't cost anything (except to pay the officiant, of course)...Now, it's not a requested donation, but an upfront fee, generally ranging from $1,000 and up. The next thing you know, they will be charging for other sacraments! Is anyone else as upset as I am about this?
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Re: Catholic wedding fees

  • mica178mica178
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    edited December 2011
    My friend paid $900 for the privilege of getting married at her secular site.  That included chairs and set-up, but otherwise, it was a lease on the land (she had an outdoor wedding) for half a day.  She still had to find and pay an officiant and ceremony musicians and decorate.

    For roughly the same price, I was married at my church.  Pre-marriage counseling was involved.  The price included the organist fees (and the several meetings I had with her to discuss music and other practical stuff).  The church was already stunning and needed little embellishment. 

    Believe it or not, it's expensive to open up the church for an extra event.  The electricity and heating/airconditioning costs for some of the bigger places are astronomical.  Plus there's the cleaning cost.  Never mind the cost of all the marriage prep stuff.  The extra time the priest spends coming up with a homily specifically for you and your FI.  The meetings with the church coordinator to plan your processional and the little details of the ceremony.

    Getting married these days is not cheap.  You won't find many bargains going outside of the church either, unless you have a courthouse wedding.  But I think what we get (a Sacrament, counseling, etc.) from our churches compared with what we get from for-profit secular ceremony sites.

    If the price your church is asking is outside of your budget, you could talk with the priest.  I believe the prices/donation requests are not set in stone and can be adjusted based on need.
  • ootmother2ootmother2
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    I think that church fees depend on the pastor and the diocese.

    I live in NYC and I know that St. Patrick's Cathedral is off the charts other than CSH graduates.  They pay no fee other than the musician.

    My daughter was married at a lovely church on Cape Cod and the only fee was for the music.  $250, used or not.  They used her, fabulous soloist and organist.
    The priest refused gratuity.  It was not their home parish, just a church they loved and wanted for their wedding.

    If this is your home parish, perhaps you could talk to the person in charge if you just can't afford the fee?  I'm not really sure how that works but try.

    ETA: They did their marriage prep in Boston and that was about $300 and they said it was absolutely worth every penny.
    ,
    Funny, we were all out to dinner the week after their prep course and they were talking about it.  I bet they could not agree on finances. (ootdaughter was a bit spoiled).  I asked them how much money they thought it was okay to spend without consulting the other.  They each wrote down the amount on a slip of paper and handed it over.  I just about fell off my chair because it was exactly the same amount!




  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
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    edited December 2011
    They are not charging for the sacrament...that would be simony. They are charging for the use of the building.

    How much would it cost to rent out a building of the same size to haul hundreds of your fam and friends for a couple hours?
  • mica178mica178
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
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    edited December 2011
    Sorry if I implied that we're paying for the Sacrament.  The payment is for lighting/electricity/time spent by staff.  My point was that the cost of a secular wedding is equal/higher, and offers a lot less (both financially and spiritually).
  • ootmother2ootmother2
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011

    just a suggestion,

    When you post your question on multiple boards, start out with

    XP

    That means cross post and you are looking for opinions on more than one board.  I almost answered you on WW.

    Just a suggestion if you are planning on posting on the knot on a regular basis.

    GL

  • k8lyk8ly
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    http://www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/marriagefaqs.shtml

    "10. How much does it cost to get married in the Catholic Church?

    Dioceses often regulate the stipend, or offering to the church, that is customary on the occasion of a wedding. Depending on different areas, this might also include the fee for the organist and vocalist. In a situation of true financial difficulty, couples can come to an agreement with their pastors so that true financial hardship will never prevent a Catholic marriage from taking place."

    Our "suggested donation" to the church is $250.  Organist is $125 and the Cantor is $100.  Our priest straight up said, if we can't pay it, arrangements could be made - he just gets disappointed when people baulk at the price and then show up in a hummer limo. 

    The Conservatory I got married in the first time around:  $850 - on a Friday, plus they charged $100 for 4 candles to be put on their pond.  I believe the harpist was another $850 and the officiant, oh I just don't remember....you get the point.
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  • edited December 2011
    The Church (a California Mission) cost $750. We provide our own priest and musicians. Interesting thing is that we are having four priests concelebrate at our wedding (I work for the Church and FI was really shaped and formed at his college Newman Center so we have 4 priests). I'm a musician so I have many friends who are Catholic musicians. No one has asked for any particular amounts, so my quandary is how much to stipend these colleagues and friends...
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  • edited December 2011
    We paid $500 to use the church (the non-parishoner rate is $750).
    $100 directly to the church's ceremony coordinator
    $150 directly to the music coordinator/organist
    (extra for other musicians)

    It does add up, but I didn't think it was unreasonable.  Comapared to what we are paying tor the reception, the ceremony costs aren't that high.  I don't feel taken advantage of.  I'm happy to give my money to the church I grew up in to keep the lights on, and the building clean, and the roof in good repair.  I'm not going to nickle-and-dime my church. 

    And ditto PPs about all the counseling being well worth it.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
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    edited December 2011
    i think in some instances, its a very fine line between "suggested donation" and charging for sacraments.

    ive said this on other threads tho, and i'll say  it again here for OP's benefit - the ceremony is the MOST IMPORTANT PART.  why do people squawk at paying for that, yet dont bat an eye at blowing money on $100 a plate dinners, or on trivial things like  $400 photo booths, $300 worth of favors, or an $800 limo ride???
  • Riss91Riss91
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Catholic wedding fees:
    i think in some instances, its a very fine line between "suggested donation" and charging for sacraments. ive said this on other threads tho, and i'll say  it again here for OP's benefit - the ceremony is the MOST IMPORTANT PART.  why do people squawk at paying for that, yet dont bat an eye at blowing money on $100 a plate dinners, or on trivial things like  $400 photo booths, $300 worth of favors, or an $800 limo ride???
    Posted by Calypso1977
    Unfortunately, I think the answer is that most people have lost perspective (possibly due to having negative experiences with the Church) and many just like to rank on the Church - because apparantly Catholicism is the only religion that is socially acceptable to criticize. All those extra wedding costs they've decided on their own accord to pay, and the Church fee is being "imposed" upon them. 
     
    My thought is that if you love the Church and truly want to receive the sacrament, you wouldn't bat an eye at the fees (unless you were in extreme financial peril). We paid well more than the required amount because we felt that the priests that helped us were really great with us and within their parishes and we wanted to support them. 

    The church isn't charging for the sacrament - you can get married for free during a regular Sunday mass (though your pre-marital classes may not be free). And, if you speak to a priest, you can likely work something out.
  • Theresa626Theresa626
    1000 Comments
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    edited December 2011
    Yes, I was very very upset about it and felt it was wrong to charge people.  My parents didn't pay anything to get married.  
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    If anyone would like to have a small wedding at a daily mass that is already happening, with no frills, with 2 witnesses there, you would not be charged.
  • edited December 2011
    Have you ever examined your church's financial statements? I know for a fact that my church needs all the revenue they can get just to run.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
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    edited December 2011
    our priest puts financials in the bulletin once per year for folks to see. 

    they also budget a donation amoutn each month.  he puts the amount collected each sunday in the following weeks bulletin and then illustrates the +/- from budget. 

    we're doing ok now because they came into a few large donations from deceased individuals, but our parish cant sustain being in teh green forever.
  • mica178mica178
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
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    edited December 2011
    Yeah, donations are down at my parish compared to last year.  And the charitable requirements of the community are growing with the down economy, so it's a bad financial year for my church.
  • k8lyk8ly
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I guess I can see how if you are a regular member, and give to the weekly collections each week, paying an "extra" donation for the sacrement of marriage can feel like paying for it. 

    However, I'm with Riss in wanting to support and help our parish where we can.  We are fortunate enough to be able to give to help those who are in need in the community.

    The bottom line for me gets to my Priest's "Hummer" comment and to Calypso's comments:  I would feel like a heel donating nothing to the church but spending thousands elsewhere in my wedding.

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  • edited December 2011

    If you really can't afford a $1000 fee to rent the church, I'm sure the church would work with you.  The church won't deny a sacrament to you for inability to pay.  And, as PPs pointed out, you can get married during any other scheduled Mass (whether on Sunday or during the week) and there wouldn't be any rental fee.

    BUT.  If you're spending $1000 on your dress, $50+ per plate for your reception dinner, $500 on invitations, $300 on favors, $500+ on a limo, etc... than you *can* afford a fee to rent the church.  You just need to rearrange your budget.

    The Sacrament of Marriage is the important part.  The party afterward is nice, but what joins you together until death is the ceremony, not the party. 

  • MopsieBMopsieB
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    Hi: Sorry for posting this question twice.

    I''m going to share my circumstances with other Catholic brides: My fiance and I are long-time parishioners of our church in Denver. Whereas last year and for all years previous to this one, nothing was ever charged for use of the church, now this new pastor has decided to arbitrarily charge $1,000 TO PARISHIONERS! I am not even sure what he thinks is "reasonable" to charge non-parishioners. I'm not including other fees, like the priest fees, or music or pre cana. I'm simply speaking of the church itself. Now, my brother had a Catholic wedding at the church we grew up in, in Chicago. It cost NOTHING 11 years ago there. My parents also were charged nothing and I have several Catholic friends who were married in years past who were also charged- you guessed it- nothing! I do think this is charging for a sacrament and I think it is wrong, for several reasons:
    1. The church is NOT a business, or it shouldn't be. Jesus did not charge the disciples.
    2. The church is upset that people are dropping out and/or not marrying. I view these arbitrary charges to be a deterrent to Catholic marriage.
    3. If the church needs money to pay for the recent sexual abuse scandals, they should ask for it upfront, not tack on sacrament charges.
    4. Long time parishioners are already giving a lot of donations to the church. And if they aren't, that means they probably can't afford it. Should we base our religion now on ability to pay for it? I find that to be sacreligious.
    5. Judging by the discrepencies in the answers here, it looks to me as though the churches are allowed to pick a number out of the sky to charge for these weddings and they are not upfront about them. I think they should be published for all to see in the bulletins and capped at a certain number, if they are to continue at all.
    6. To all of you who said that we should "negotiate" our fee, we did do that. But it sure felt dirty. Since when is the church a bazaar where one must bargain for a sacrament??
    7. I don't know about you, but we don't have an $1,000 lying around! The church is trying to take advantage of the situation- if you want a Catholic wedding, you'd best be able to pay up! It makes me sad. Sorry if that offends anyone here. And thanks again for all of your thoughtful answers.
  • k8lyk8ly
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011

    $1000 does seem steep to me for parishioners. 

    However, as PP have said, having a wedding is opening up the church on a separate day which requires electricity, heat, cleaning and other expenses.  You can get married during a mass for free rather than renting the church on the weekend.  Perhaps the previous pastor was not facing the reality regarding the financial circumstances of the church and the new pastor was brought in to keep the church from going bankrupt?  (I'm speculating here - but it's a possibility.  Many churches are in dire financial straights these days.)  Did you ask your priest the reasoning behind the institution of a fee?  I'm sure he would be happy to explain.

    #3 is irrelevant, I'm sure.
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    Again, ask for a marriage with no frills at an already scheduled mass. No charge.

    They are not charging for sacraments....

    Again, if you were to rent out a hall for the same thing, it would be more expensive.

    And the shot about sex abuse was rotten.
  • edited December 2011
    It's not a charge for sacraments.  Again, you can get married at any regularly scheduled Mass.  I saw a convalidation done at a Sunday Mass once, and I've seen convalidations done at the Easter Vigil more than once.  No frills, but they were lovely.  There would be no fee to rent the church if you do it that way. 

    I'll agree that the change from $0 to $1000 would be a big change, but have you asked the pastor why this change was made, rather than griping about it on the Internet?  It's possible the prior pastor or administrator wasn't great with finances and the parish isn't in a good financial situation.   (And yes, a parish's money woes may nothing to do with sex abuse -- which was a silly and cheap shot.)

    I find it hard to believe that you don't have $1000.  If your total wedding budget is more than $1000, then I think things could be rearranged in your budget -- it's just a question of priorities.
  • edited December 2011
    We are getting married at our home parish, which happens to be a historic church where people want to get married for the pretty factor. The charge is $1000 for non-members and $800 for members, plus music and a donation to the priest. They offered to bargain with us since we are active members and on limited personal budgets. I decided it wasn't worth it since money is tight in the parish anyway and we are certainly paying more than that for reception, photographers, etc., which I don't care about nearly as much as I do the mass.

    Money is tight at a lot of places for lots of reasons ... sex abuse being the least of them.
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  • ootmother2ootmother2
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    There are already special funds set aside for the sexual abuse victimes. Some on a more local level, such as Boston, Mass. and Mendham, New Jersey.  In the former, Cardinal Law had to sell off a good deal of church property to Boston College.  In the second case, there was one priest with so many accusations against him, it had to be seperated from the rest.

    I seriously doubt that any of the "Wedding Fees" are going to fund that.  Interesting point but not accurate at ally.
  • k8lyk8ly
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011

    "Why do we have to pay to “rent” the church for the wedding?

    Any time the parish provides a spiritual service for its members, it is customary to make an offering, a sacrificial offering to the church. It’s an expression of our faith. At the same time it costs money to provide for a wedding. The time the staff spends with you compiling information for its records and preparing you for the ceremony costs money. The forms and literature and registers used in the preparation process cost money. The professional services of the priest or deacon cost money. The use of the church building, including lights, heat or AC, staff on hand to open, prepare, and clean up after, all cost money. It isn’t easy vacuuming up all those sequins that end up embedded in the carpet, not to mention the boutonnière pins that are everywhere. Because Catholics sometimes don’t get the idea of a sacrificial offering, most parishes have resorted to charging a fee for using the church. Call it “rent” if you will."

    Father Paul Boudreau
    catholicdigest.com
    http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/family/marriage_relationships/2010/02-01/the-catholic-digest-wedding-guide---more-frequently-asked-questions

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  • meganb1977meganb1977
    1000 Comments
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    edited December 2011
    That is discouraging that your church is charging so much for parishioners, it does seem steep although it may be the norm in your area.  My fiance had his heart set on getting married in the Catholic church but decided against it in favor of a civil ceremony at our reception venue when he saw how much they were charging us to get married IN THE CHURCH OF OUR CHOICE even though his grandmother was a longtime parishioner, they were charging $1,500 for out of parish vs. $500 for parishioners in addition to your marriage prep.  We were trying to minimize all around and couldn't see paying the extra fees for the church.  Granted, we probably could have had just the immediate families at our parish church with no musicians or altar servers or etc. for just a couple hundred dollars, but my fiance decided he preferred a civil ceremony over a ceremony at that particular church.
    Whoever said it was supposed to be happily ever after is a big fat liar.
  • mica178mica178
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    edited December 2011
    How big is your church?  I know of churches/cathedrals in San Francisco where parishioners are charged up to $2000 to get married there, but these places hold thousands, have tons of wooden pews to polish, floors to shine, chandeliers to dust in preparation for a wedding.  Some of these places are historic landmarks and extra measures need to be taken to prevent damage by unknowning guests.  Sometimes there are issues with closing down the street in front of the church for guest safety.  There can be a lot of work that goes into preparing a building for a big wedding, and as so many parishioners no longer give significant donations (I have attended Mass with millionaires who slip $2 into the offering), the church needs to do something to help with maintenance so that the church building can continue to be a beautiful place for all future weddings and ceremonies.  It's practical, if nothing else.

    We all have priorities, but I think I'd rather have a smaller or plainer reception so that I could marry in the church than a larger civil marriage so I could have a large reception.  It was a priority for us to marry in a church because we wanted to start our marriage with a solid foundation that involved God and family. 
  • MopsieBMopsieB
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    Thanks again for all of your heartfelt responses. My fiance and I are pretty devout Catholics, but we are also journalists and reasonable people, who are dismayed at what we see as a new conservatism/bureaucracy emerging in the church, across the board. Those of you who seem to assume to know what someone's availability of funds are, are also ignoring the reality of the church being able to charge these kinds of fees. The sex abuse scandals are actually very relevant to parishes needing money. The legal fees alone cost the church MILLIONS and if you think your donations (or your family's donations) to your parish didn't go to cover at least some of that, you're being naive. My point is this: Our parish is not a big cathedral. It is a rather poor parish, with lots of immigrants. It's not a fancy church- it doesn't even have an organ. But it has always had a really warm, diverse community. Regardless of whether my fiance and I could or could not "afford" $1,000, it is a FACT that most of the parishioners could not. I find this alarming, because many of them do not speak English well and may be unable to understand that they can negotiate a reduced fee. They will then either go into hock in order to pay for a Catholic wedding (is this what Jesus envisioned?) or they simply will not marry in the church. Either way, Catholicism loses credibility. The fees are divisive because they are not universal- they are arbitrary. In other words, some churches still charge nothing, while others have jacked their fees. To those of you who asked whether we tried to discuss it with the new pastor- we absolutely did, and got very political responses to our questions- in other words, no real responses at all. We then reported it to the monsignor, who said it's a parish matter. Meanwhile, we cc'd the parish council and guess what? They had NO IDEA this pastor had started charging. In other words, not only is it all very arbitrary, it also fairly covert. If it's so legitimate for the church to be charging these fees, then why aren't they posting them right in the church bulletin? When so many people just accept without questioning, it actually hurts the church because it causes suspicion and drives people away. My faith in God is very strong, but my faith in this church is eroding, because of issues like this. And the bottom line becomes that PEOPLE are running the church, not God. Again, thank you so much for all of your thoughts and input and congratulations. Prayers to us all.
  • Riss91Riss91
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    I would agree that some transparency and consistency among all Catholic churches would be preferable. However, I can understand why some churches charge more than others. They use these funds to help pay their costs (not always just the cost that your wedding is to them, but additional church costs) and not every church has the same income/expense. When churches are spread out among different geographic and economic areas, there is no way to say that any dollar amount is the right amount.

    Mopsie, in your parish which you consider poor, I might expect the church to throw out a higher fee number than others, as it likely receives less in regular donations from its parishoners, thus needs to make up a bigger deficit. It is very similar to the progressive income tax that our government employs. Higher income people are paying a higher amount in taxes.

    And just a side note regarding the sex abuse scandals - you do realize than many more teachers, parents, family and other caregivers commit these acts than priests, right? Being a journalist, you may actually think there is a higher percentage of cases than there is, because the media brings it into the limelight much more than they do for non-priest sex offenders. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, or that priests should not be punished for it, just saying that the media treatment they receive is far worse than others who have committed the same act.
  • mica178mica178
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
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    edited December 2011

    I'm glad that you went to the highers up to see what could be done at your parish. 

    as we know, all human beings are flawed.  There are priests who make mistakes, but they are far outnumbered by wonderful priests who help the members of their parish and lift the religion as a whole.

    Re: sex abuse payoffs, pretty much every American Catholic church carries liability insurance to cover possible legal settlements.  For the settlements that exceed the insurance coverage, it is up to the parish to cover those costs, either by closing down facilities or by selling parish assets, as OOT mentioned above.  As you are from New Orleans, I doubt your parish is contributing to the huge settlements in Boston or New Jersey.

     Also, I was just reading an article in the Denver Post that stated that the Catholic church is considered no higher a liability than any other denomination.  If you are losing faith in the church, please do realize that every organization has its weaker links, but as a whole, the Roman Catholic church is a wonderful institution that does far more good than most people in the popular press give it credit.

  • edited December 2011
    Looks like the rational arguments have all been well talked out on the board. To offer further personal contributions - I work for the Church as a youth minister. My parish (former parish) has been doing amazing things for our youth, changing and saving lives, building community overall. Every staff person's wages come from the weekly Sunday offertory and because of the economy, I ended up getting laid off because financials were down. I'm at a new parish about 20 minutes away (in a more affluent area) as a youth minister, though I do miss my old parish.

    So, I did some googling, and about 4% of the population are estimated to meet the clinical definition of "pedophile" while about .3% of priests could be classified as pedophiles. even .3% is horrendous and I think there's a sentimental factor that makes abuse by the clergy feel even worse, but I think the numbers help to clarify and put perspective on a problem that affects the general population to an even greater degree.
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