Wedding Etiquette Forum

Canceling without having signed a contract yet... is this bad etiquette??

macaron9macaron9 member
5 Love Its First Comment
edited February 2015 in Wedding Etiquette Forum
Edited: I previously said triple digit when I meant quadruple digit! My bad!!

My fiance and I were looking for officiants and found one that was very highly recommended online. We had a talk with him about what we wanted, which was a simple ceremony-- I am not for long speeches or "performances". Turned out this officiant seemed super nice, offered a very nice, customizable service that was above and beyond what we had really wanted, but it sounded nice until we heard the price which was
QUADRUPLE digit. By then, he had us so convinced that this was really the way to go. 
We emailed a confirmation, but we haven't signed a contract yet. After thinking hard about this (we are on a tight budget) I realized that I really don't want to pay quadruple digits for a custom service I don't really even want. 

Really I knew that many officiants costed $200-300, I should have said no right then and there, but in my moment of weakness... my brain must've turned off.

My fiance was not happy about my change of mind and felt that it was impolite but he agreed that we did not "need" such a service so I offered to make the call (less than 2 days after our verbal agreement) since I felt like I should take the unpleasant task of calling. I felt that since I had not put a deposit down and that I hadn't signed any contracts, that it was ok....

... or is it?

The officiant was not very happy and started asking if we really couldn't put up that extra couple hundred of dollars by the time we got married (I said we could but we are trying to stick to a budget; we really are running out of other areas to cut) and then tried to say how his services would be better than other more inexpensive officiants... (FYI: I my research and found another officiant that would give a semi-customized service, but for half the price). He finally said he might lower his price for us, but now I'm feeling really negative about how hard he tried to push his services on us without really realizing that we don't need anything so heavily customized! I said I'd think about it.

Am I in the wrong here? I feel bad about it.. at this point even if I get an offer at my price point by this officiant, I feel uncomfortable having to work with this person and I'm going to be terribly uncomfortable saying no too!

Any advice??

Re: Canceling without having signed a contract yet... is this bad etiquette??

  • Have you shopped around for prices of other officiants? Ours was about $400 and that was about the norm. I don't think a "triple digit" price is all that unreasonable - unless you're doing JOP, which I think is less than $100. 

    If you have to cancel, you have to cancel. But my guess is that you're going to end up shopping around and finding similar pricing elsewhere. And you might not even like the new officiant as much as you like this one. 

    Look, the officiant is one part of your wedding that actually matters. You HAVE to be legally wed. And you WANT to have a nice wedding ceremony. This is somewhere I'd spend a little more and cut elsewhere. Favors, programs, decor, guest book, etc...I'd be cutting all that before I'd cut a good officiant.

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited February 2015
    I've never heard of an officiant costing less than $100.  You even said you knew they cost $200-$300.  Can you be a little more specific on the cost, rather than saying triple digit?

    That said, from what you mention of him, I don't like his attitude.  I'd find someone else.  I'd even pay more if it meant going with someone we really liked and who was willing to work with us to create a ceremony that we envisioned.

    And for the record, our officiant, for a 20 min ceremony, was around $700.

    Oh, and this is the favors board.   If a mod doesn't move it, you may get more replies if you crosspost on the Reception or board.  Just be sure to put XP in the subject line.
  • macaron9macaron9 member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    edited February 2015
    Oh my apologies, I meant QUADRUPLE DIGIT, not triple. (I've edited my first post). It was about $1000 for a 30 min ceremony, which is why I was thinking triple. Suffering from brain drain over here! >_< 

    The other officiant we were looking at offered about $550 for a semi-personalized package and I think we are going to go with her instead and get ourselves out of this mess...

    JoaneE2012 & southernbelle0915 -  thanks for your comments. I'm the first in my family and of my friends to get married (and in the US) so I have no idea what's normal and not for prices...though google and wedding websites like The Knot have been immensely helpful!
    I do feel better knowing that most ceremonies are still <$1000.
    JoanE2012 - thanks for the tip!  I'm new to this site and am disoriented lol.

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited February 2015
    @macaron9 - Keep in mind costs can vary wildly depending on where you're located.  I'm in NJ, so everything here tends to be a bit more expensive.  Not as much as some metropolitan cities, but definitely more than most parts of the country.  I do think $1k is pretty high.  

    You may also want to consider checking out your local board too if it's active.  You may be able to get a better feel for prices and perhaps even get some recommendations!  Good luck and happy planning!

    ETA - And to answer your original question, I do not find it in bad form to cancel when you didn't have a contract.  I'd much rather cancel than go through with something I'm not comfortable or happy with just because it was the nice thing to do.  It's an important occasion, don't regret your decisions.   Just make sure to tell him sooner rather than later as a courtesy.  I'd probably just drop him an email, because I hate doing those things over the phone.
  • You gave him plenty of notice and there was no contract. It's not like you are calling him the week before the ceremony to cancel. To pay $1,000 for a 30 minute service is crazy IMO. I know that he would take time to create a special ceremony for you, but unless he has known you personally for years, how customized can he really make it?

    [Deleted User]
  • Yea, I think $1,000 is too much. Unless you're doing something elaborate, or he's providing the venue in addition to officiating, or you're having an enormous wedding (our officiant's pricing went up with the size of the wedding)....then I'd keep shopping around. No contract, no deal. You've let him know he's too expensive, now don't worry about moving on.

  • Hey OP, I'm gonna move this to the etiquette board so you get better answers.

    For what it's worth, I do believe $1k is pretty high but it also depends on where you are located. I would just cancel and go with the other officiant you mentioned.

    Daisypath Anniversary tickers Daisypath Anniversary tickers

  • If you had any doubts about canceling, his appalling response to your call should have been all you needed to pull the plug. You can't let people like this browbeat you into acquiescing to unreasonable demands.

    Powers  &8^]

  • I do not think you are in the wrong.  You took some time and reconsidered before you signed anything.  But especially since he tried to push you so hard, I think that really tells you this person isn't right for you.  Don't feel bad.  Just be happy you figured out your change of heart soon and stuck to your guns.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

  • I do not think you are in the wrong.  You took some time and reconsidered before you signed anything.  But especially since he tried to push you so hard, I think that really tells you this person isn't right for you.  Don't feel bad.  Just be happy you figured out your change of heart soon and stuck to your guns.
    This. You're allowed to change your mind before a contract is signed.

    I had an agreement for a lady to do hair and make-up for my BMs, and we had already hammered out all the details and discussed it several times. When she sent me the contract, I saw that she had added $300 we had not agreed upon for my hair and make-up (I had told her multiple times that I would most likely be doing my own, but I would do a trial with her just to see if I liked it). The fact that she did this really rubbed me the wrong way, so I cancelled everything, including the services for the BMs, and found someone else who was much less expensive and much more honest in the way they do business.

    I did not regret cancelling. I knew it was the right thing to do after the way this woman acted.

    It's your money and your wedding. You owe this stranger nothing. You have every right to hire whoever you think is right, and this guy does not sound right.
    rcher912[Deleted User]
  • edited February 2015
    We paid $400 for ours, which was completely customized and included a sand ceremony (with supplies included). And I live in San Diego where nothing is cheap.

    I think you're fine cancelling. If he keeps pushing you can even tell him that you would be uncomfortable working with him after his response. What kind of officiant talks shit about other officiants?!

    ETA: For future reference, don't explain the reasons behind your financial limits to vendors. It is none of their business and they will use the info to argue with you.


  • Cancel the officiant. You should be comfortable with the person who is marrying you, and he sounds way too pushy. Don't worry about. 

    I had a customized ceremony and it was 300 dollars, in the Boston area. I think 1000 is crazy. 


  • just here to add I thought you meant 4 zeros. Like 10,000. I was like "HELL NO GIRL"
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited February 2015
    You do not have a contract with the officiant until you have given him/her a deposit and signed an agreement (contract).  It is not bad manners to shop around and change your mind.
  • I live in the San Francisco area (talk about major $$$), and I'll say $1000 is way too high! Our officiant is costing us $400, which is around average for this area--maybe even a *little* cheaper than average. And after the way he responded to your cancellation? No way would I want to deal with someone with such negativity and awkwardness between us. It's quite okay to cancel without a contract being signed. Glad you were able to find another officiant.

    This is why FI and I never commit to any vendors/decisions/etc in writing or verbally upon our first meeting. We end it with a "We will be in touch!" and decide from there.
                                     Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • Wow, as others said, I would have fired him for sure after the way he reacted to your first call. You should definitely not feel like you're being bullied into spending more money or doing something you're uncomfortable with.

    Glad to hear you booked someone else!! Good luck!
  • Agreed- no signed contract, no deposit= you are free to change your mind and shop around.

    Also don't like the officiants response.

    $1000 is WAY too much money. Officiants in my area are in the $200-300 range. 

    Our officiant was great- we got a very good price, as he is a family friend. Though I don't entirely know what your original officiant was offering as a "custom" service, our officiant told us he was glad to do whatever we wanted- he gave us ideas and helped us structure the ceremony, but we chose all the wording and could've added any elements (like lighting of a candle, sand ceremony, etc...) we wanted, without charging us any extra fees. 
  • We spoke to an officiant who was very awesome but was not local to the area where we are getting married, so we would have had to pay for her travel on top of everything. She also quoted us a price in the quadruple digits. The wedding coordinators at our venue suggested someone who was in the triple digits. We spoke to him and liked him as well. Not quite as much as the out of town lady, but in the end we decided we would rather spend that money on something else and chose to go with the local guy. When I let out of town lady know, she was SO nice. She didn't try to pressure me or anything and said she thinks that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do and wished us all the best. I don't like the response of the officiant you've been speaking to and to me, that would be enough for me to decide not to work with him.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • We had a completely customized ceremony in Boston (where things cost a fortune) and it was around $300. In fact, that was right around where all the prices were. We met with 2 people, took about an hour of their time, in their homes, and talked about everything. We clearly only went with one of them, but didn't feel bad at all about having "wasted" the other one's time. 

    The fact that this person is trying to talk you into spending this money would turn me off so much I wouldn't want them anywhere near my ceremony to begin with! 
  • OP, I know you said you already booked the other one for around $500. Just wanted to throw it out there that depending on what state you're in, since you want something simple you could always have a friend do it for free (plus a small thank you gift). I did that in MA because I knew I only wanted a 5-10 minute ceremony and I was able to write the whole thing myself with help from Google, and some ladies here offering up their scripts. But some states don't allow that so you'd have to check.



  • Jenna8984: I agree! For any other future brides reading this, having a friend or family member be your officiant is EXTREMELY affordable and an easy way to completely customize your wedding script. Of course this depends on what state you live in... I live in Texas and am having my brother legally officiated online for about $40. I can't think of a better person to marry my fiancé and I. What's funny is that he's so excited he doesn't even want my help haha, can't wait to see what he surprises us with!
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