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Church requires we pay for organist & vocalist even though we are'nt using!

Hello fellow brides,
I am in the process of sorting out my wedding ceremony, we are getting married in a church, not doing a full mass, ceremony only and I would like to hire a string trio to play. The only thing is the church still requires me to pay the organist and the vocalist, even though they wont be singing or playing! I couldnt believe that, has anyone ever heard of this before? I was venting to a co-worker about it and she says it fairly common, but I think its absurd to spend almost $300 for services I wont even be using!
Insight please?
:)
Lisa

Re: Church requires we pay for organist & vocalist even though we are'nt using!

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    Many churches require that you pay their organist even if you don't use them. Often the organist is also the "director of music" for the church and has to approve not only the music that will be used ( to be sure it is suitable) but also the ability of the person playing the organ if the church organist is.  The organist often has to be present for the rehearsal and the wedding to be sure any church equipment used is not damaged or if not used, isn't moved and possibly damaged so that other equipment can be used.

    The church just down the street charges for the organist whether she plays or not. She also must approve the music, she does not have to attend either the rehearsal or the wedding if she isn't playing.  If she is playing and will accompany a soloist then the fee is more because she must meet to practice with the soloist prior to the wedding and then play for them.

    I do think $300 is a lot to be charged if you aren't using either of them.
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    Hello LeeRose!
    I know it seems crazy and that is a lot of money- $300- for something that you are not even going to see contributed to your wedding! It is called a bench fee.

    So the thing is that the church that you are getting married at has an organist appointed on a contract and that contract states that they have the right to play at all weddings that take place at that church. The organist accepts a job at a church under that understanding that part of their income will be coming from this part of the contract and they are told how many weddings per year to expect on average. They are often given lower salaries on the understanding that the weddings will make up the rest for them. So, to be clear, this is part of how the organist earns their salary and is not 'over and above' what they are already making. It is very normal practice for organists to always collect this fee. If couples getting married request to have other music at the wedding instead- such as you bringing in a string quartet- it is considered a special request by them and they give you permission as a special gift from their point of view- (whereas from our point of view we think of it as our right to choose our music they think of it as a priviledge to grant you this permission) and regardless of whether they permit you to bring in other musicians or not they are still entitled to collect their fee.  You are asking them to vacate the bench when that is part of their livelihood- that is how they look at it, and that is the etiquette of it from their point of view. They also believe that having this extra fee will encourage people to use the musicians provided by the church which they think is better for a wide variety of reasons.  Some churches would just flat-out refuse your request to bring in outside musicians, others allow it but charge the bench fee. The organist who you are paying is very likely to actually be at the church during your wedding making sure that everything is running smoothly.

    Okay so that's me just trying to explain how they look at it. Since you asked for insight! Doesn't mean that I don't totally understand your frustration. Hope that you can budget for it and that your wedding music is just the way you want it. Worth it!
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    I would look into why they are making you pay for them. I can see if the church organist also doubles as the musical director or whatever, but I'm a firm believer in that if you pay for a service, you better be getting that service. So if their ONLY jobs are to play and sing, I'd request that they play and sing for your bridal party before the ceremony starts or something.
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    I am also being charged $300 whether I use the organist or not. For me this does not include the price of a singer which I plan to hire. The organist is indeed the musical director and we will work with him to pick the songs for our ceremony and he must approve any additional musicians. I don't think it is very uncommon, and I had planned to have an organist so I didn't think the fee was unreasonable.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_ceremony-ideas_church-requires-pay-organist-vocalist-even-though-arent-using?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:10Discussion:d83f8484-43d0-4732-998e-522afdd00772Post:4b35bd8b-c532-4b65-8a36-ca53964ec56e">Re: Church requires we pay for organist & vocalist even though we are'nt using!</a>:
    [QUOTE] So the thing is that the church that you are getting married at has an organist appointed on a contract and that contract states that they have the right to play at all weddings that take place at that church. The organist accepts a job at a church under that understanding that part of their income will be coming from this part of the contract and they are told how many weddings per year to expect on average. They are often given lower salaries on the understanding that the weddings will make up the rest for them. So, to be clear, this is part of how the organist earns their salary and is not 'over and above' what they are already making. It is very normal practice for organists to always collect this fee.

    You are asking them to vacate the bench when that is part of their livelihood- that is how they look at it, and that is the etiquette of it from their point of view. They also believe that having this extra fee will encourage people to use the musicians provided by the church which they think is better for a wide variety of reasons.  Some churches would just flat-out refuse your request to bring in outside musicians, others allow it but charge the bench fee. The organist who you are paying is very likely to actually be at the church during your wedding making sure that everything is running smoothly.
    Posted by kateguess22[/QUOTE]

    This is the perfect explanation as to why you are being charged. Not all churches have this rule (it depends on the contract they have with the musician), so you can always ask around at other churches in the area and see if others charge the same fee. Typically, $300 isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of wedding budgets, but if you are having a really low-budget wedding, I would speak to the priest/music director about your financial situation and see if they might work something out.
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    We had to pay $250 for the organist and vocalist if used or not.  I guess it's pretty common.


    Actually, she was very good and played well with the trumpeter & flutist that we hired from the outside
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    Believe it.  Just write the check and move on to planning the ceremony as you wish.  There is always some sort of fee for using a Church, whether broken out line-by-line (as your Church does) or not, you're paying for "everything" anyway.
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    Yes, I have just accepted it and am going to pony up!
    Thanks everyone :)

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