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Catholic Weddings

Church Fee

I'm gonna be blunt here, I'm not cheap, but I am trying to stick to a budget as much as possible. My parish charges $450 to have a wedding there (even though we are both members), and I'm wondering how much of an additional donation we should give?  We would have given probably at least $200 if there was no fee, but with the fee I don't know what is expected or reasonable?  We tithe, we didn't splurge on other things (my dress cost $200, and we are going on a very low key honeymoon), and I just don't know what to do. I know weddings are expensive, but am I out of line here? Any advice would be great. Thanks.
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Re: Church Fee

  • clearheavensclearheavens member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Figuring out a donation amount is a prayerful issue.  Only you could answer it and it's between you and God.  Basically, you take into account how much you can afford based on your income, not on your actual wedding budget.  (There are couples who make very little but splurge on their wedding, and there are couples who make a lot yet spend $3k on their wedding.)  I would personally err on the side of generosity.

    As a guideline, $450 isn't bad.  Most churches ask for a donation of about $600 for parishioners and more for non-parishioners.  Hope that gives you a rough idea.
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  • edited December 2011
    I wish our fee was only $450, ours is $800. Not to include the organist and cantor fees. Which total comes out to $1000. I am debating with this issue as well. I feel as though this is the donation, since that is what it is labeled as in the paperwork.
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  • ring_popring_pop member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    An additional donation would be very kind and thoughtful of you, but I don't think it's expected above and beyond the fee. Give what you can. Perhaps you could offer your priest a gift - any amount that you can afford will be appreciated.
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  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Wow. You are generous.  I gave exactly what they asked me to give and no more.  I was offended by the mandatory donation and didn't feel I needed to give more if they wanted it to be mandatory. 
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    Think about it this way: your priest is essentially holding an extra service just for you and your loved ones.  He's doing some pre-marital prep with you and your FI and writing an extra homily.  The church's lights will be on, the place will be cleaned especially for you.  That's what the $450 covers.

    Now, think about all the work each individual priest does.  Hospital visits, home calls, counseling, all unpaid.  Think about the poorer parishes that do not bring in much money with weekly tithes.  Think about what a gift it would be for  you to give a little extra to your priest and church to make all the work he/they do a little easier.

    And there's always a silver lining to everything.  This is a temporary sacrifice now.  Your donation is tax deductible, it might come in handy come April 2011.
  • edited December 2011
    I agree with ring_pop. Our church fee was $750 which included the organist and cantor. We still had to pay for the altar servers as well as a cleaning deposit should we have left the bridal room or sanctuary trashed. We did not give any extra as we felt that was enough. I know priests do a lot, but we were on a tight budget and really didn't spurlge elsewhere. We were regular parishoners there before moving out of state.

    EDIT: Our EE weekend was $350 on top of everything else.
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  • catarntinacatarntina member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Wow.  My fee was only $75.  And I'm not personally a member of that church; it's my mom's church.  He said he charges $150 for non-members but since my mom is a member and we're both catholic, he "likes to give two catholics kids a break."

    I don't know how much the organist charges though, he won't return my calls.  But I can't imagine it will be more than $100.
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  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:ec0d3015-d1e1-4794-bece-081970aa607f">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]Think about it this way: your priest is essentially holding an extra service just for you and your loved ones.  He's doing some pre-marital prep with you and your FI and writing an extra homily.  The church's lights will be on, the place will be cleaned especially for you.  That's what the $450 covers. Now, think about all the work each individual priest does.  Hospital visits, home calls, counseling, all unpaid.  Posted by mica178[/QUOTE]

    I think about it this way - it is part of his job and the job that he signed up for when he decided to become a priest. We are giving a donation to the church and a donation to the priest who will marry us, but I think putting it in terms that the priest is going out of his way to do you a favor by presiding at a wedding is quite odd.
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:cf44f9c7-68f1-4167-a05a-81063beef662">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Church Fee : I think about it this way - it is part of his job and the job that he signed up for when he decided to become a priest. We are giving a donation to the church and a donation to the priest who will marry us, but I think putting it in terms that the priest is going out of his way to do you a favor by presiding at a wedding is quite odd.
    Posted by oogiejonz[/QUOTE]

    Oh, but he is. A wedding can very easily take place during an already scheduled Mass on Sunday or weekday, (and theologically is actually better because its part of the whole of the church community- like many churches are doing baptisms) without all the hoopla, flowers, decorations, and huge ordeal that comes with it. It's the wedding "industry" that has made a seperate saturday wedding with 200 people and all the "extras" that are unnecessary.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    in this instance, i think OP is ok as it seems like she's cut corners everywhere.  $450 is probably a good chunk of her budget.  id probably throw in an extra $50 and call it a day.

    yes, its his "job" but out of that $450 he probably only personally gets maybe $100.  divide that out by the number of hours he works, and it isnt much.  its nice when folks show him that his chosen vocation is appreciated and doesnt go unnoticed.
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Actually, I believe that priests can only keep $5 per mass said. (Maybe even $5 per day). The rest goes into the rectory fund (lving expenses), or something like that, depending on the parishes abilities to pay the priest.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    even if that's the case, maybe that extra donation can mean the difference between my priest eating steak one night versus spaghetti, or being able to put the heat up to 70 from 68 in the bitter cold new england weather or allow him to fly home to visit his elderly parent - somethign i'd gladly do for him.
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:92b6e355-b577-46ca-b761-a1fb2cbcf57f">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]even if that's the case, maybe that extra donation can mean the difference between my priest eating steak one night versus spaghetti, or being able to put the heat up to 70 from 68 in the bitter cold new england weather or allow him to fly home to visit his elderly parent - somethign i'd gladly do for him.
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]

    Oh, Calypso, absolutely. I wasn't disagreeing with you, more just to clarify where the money goes. (Don't want the church accused of simony). I think even more reason to give more $.
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011

    I know that the priest cannot keep the donation made in his name (which is why part of my gift to him will be a gift certificate!), but the donation will still go to the parish.  My priest does so much, it's hard to get a hold of him during the day because he's volunteering his time on multiple projects.  To alleviate his stress by getting more funds for those projects or making the rectory more comfortable is something I believe we should do in thanks of his good works.

  • edited December 2011
    I think every situation is different. I would say do what you can. If you do not feel that you should be giving them any extra money, then don't. After all, your not forced too. If your tight on your budget then I wouldnt worry about it.  With that being said, I have not looked into my church fee yet so I can't talk much, but in my opinion, for myself, I wouldnt mind giving more to the church than required. I do not have a big budget for my wedding, and there are a lot of things that we will be spending our money on, but to me, I agree with whoever posted on here saying that they are doing a seperate mass for you. That is just how I feel, but I get what your saying. Just do what is comfortable for you. :)
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  • ev4149ev4149 member
    500 Comments Third Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    I agree that every situation is different.  Our fee is $500 ($700 if you include pre cana).  I think we're planning to do a donation in lieu of altar flowers....
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  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    agapecarrie, there is no way the priest can only keep five dollars. I was required to write my priest a PERSONAL check for 200$ and it wasn't a donation. It was mandatory.  
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:adac9e21-11c0-420b-964e-5276c575405e">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]agapecarrie, there is no way the priest can only keep five dollars. I was required to write my priest a PERSONAL check for 200$ and it wasn't a donation. It was mandatory.  
    Posted by Theresa626[/QUOTE]

    You wrote it to him directly?  For the pre-marital counseling, I wrote the check to the church, not to the priest.  And from my EE, my understanding was that any cash gift given to the priest had to be given from the priest back to the parish.  Maybe it varies from parish to parish, but I really don't think my priest is rolling in the donation dough (and I hope not!).
  • clearheavensclearheavens member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Theresa626, I've been reading some of your posts about how your priest gets personal money from his parishioners, and I'm sorry about that.  But I don't think that's the norm.

    I can assure you from my perspective that my uncles who have entered religious life as priests cannot accept any personal money from us or his parishioners.  All money from weddings, Mass offerings, prayer intentions, etc. go to the church.  They have taken vows of poverty as mandated.  Any money they have to spend as they wish on things like clothing, stationery, and books are given to them as a stipend by the Archdiocese and it is very little.  This is the norm.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    if you read through every thread on here, theresa encountered NUMEROUS oddities with her parish/diocese.  while i dont doubt they are true, i dont think they are the norm by any means, and i honestly wouldnt worry too much about your priest or parish doing the same since some border on being off the wall.  i'm just happy she finally got married and had a great day! (and theresa, i still think you should write to a higher up/superior about some of this stuff).
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    Goodness Theresa!  I'm sorry about your experience.  I ditto Calypso about writing to some higher up about this, as it sounds sketchy to me.  My FI's uncle is a "higher up" in the Catholic church in FL, and I think he'd be appalled to hear that one of the priests was accepting personal checks.  I think he takes his vow of poverty pretty seriously and expects his brothers to do the same.

    But, on to happier thoughts, congratulations on your nuptials.  The pictures were beautiful, and you and your husband looked so elated!
  • clearheavensclearheavens member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:b18a938a-ffd7-4f3b-a22d-9710f6da8575">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]i'm just happy she finally got married and had a great day! (and theresa, i still think you should write to a higher up/superior about some of this stuff).
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]
    <div>
    </div><div>Agreed, congratulations to Theresa on her wedding!</div><div>
    </div><div>Theresa, don't think we're ganging up on your Diocese's oddities.  While it's perfectly fine to share your odd experiences, we just want to assure other brides (many who don't go to Mass regularly or are entering the Church for the first time) what is the norm and what the faith truly teaches about parishes and religious life.  Sometimes they visit this board and learn about what the Church is truly about from what we write!</div><div>
    </div><div>If you share an experience that fell short of what it should have been, we have to <em>explain why</em> it fell short or at least mention what it really should have been.  Or else, it's not giving justice to the situation.</div>
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    YES, I believe it is canon law that a priest can only take for PERSONAL use $5. If you wrote  a priest a check for $200, he still only keeps $5 for personal use, and the rest is rectory fund (or however the church deals it out). The rectory fund still uses the priests name as the handler, and only ordained can sign checks for any parish business. That is definitely canon law.

    2nd.... People here are mistaken about priest's vow of poverty. Only priests in communities and orders (consecrated) take vows of poverty. Secular priests (diocesan priests) do not do this.

    A vow of poverty means that they own nothing. They entrust their care to their community. If someone gives them a gift, they ask permission from their superior to accept. Any material gifts are given to the community for support, use, or donation.The community gives them a car to use (not own) if necessary for their work.

    Secular priests do not take a vow of poverty. They may own their own car, pay their own bills, have a retirement fund, accept gifts. (NOT as payment for sacraments). It depends on the diocese and parish how the priests personal expenses, living expenses, room and board are paid for. The priest does not make a living wage to pay for his own house, so the parishes ownership of the rectory takes care of the mortgage and heating bills. Usually, the priest's salary is from the parish he is stationed, or the diocese if he has a diocesan role. I must mention that often times the only way priests can make ends meet is through the "stipends" from weddings and other events. When my parish has a penance service and has neighboring priests come to hear confessions, the parish pays them a stipend. This is not simony.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:2448c9c0-9a8a-4dfe-8f96-d8234eea1b26">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE] People here are mistaken about priest's vow of poverty. Only priests in communities and orders (consecrated) take vows of poverty. Secular priests (diocesan priests) do not do this.
    Posted by agapecarrie[/QUOTE]

    We have a friend who is a priest and drives a shiny new Corvette. It seems odd, lots of people who see him ask "how does he reconcile that with his vow of poverty". Always surprised when they discover he did not take a vow of poverty.
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_church-fee?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:87b6685b-72ce-45ff-bcb3-1e8289ed9c35Post:5a16ce62-1fda-48db-b534-6c1b78b1b2b1">Re: Church Fee</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Church Fee : We have a friend who is a priest and drives a shiny new Corvette. It seems odd, lots of people who see him ask "how does he reconcile that with his vow of poverty". Always surprised when they discover he did not take a vow of poverty.
    Posted by oogiejonz[/QUOTE]

    And most of the time, they did not purchase that the way most people purchase a vehicle. It is very likely that a combination of things occurred: 1) financial gift from parishioners 2) a parishioners owned a dealership and gave him a huge break  3)car was a gift  , etc
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    IMO, i think its in poor taste for a priest to be driving a shiny corvette, deal or no deal.  it doesnt send a good message to the outside world that may not understand in ins and outs.  perception is a big part of ethics.  yes, it may be ethically acceptable for a priest to have that kind of car, but the perception of him having that kind of car can shed negative light on his profession and ultimately the church.   cant you just hear "that priest shoudl sell that fancy car and give that money to teh victims of sex abuse". 
  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Sorry, guys I just came back to this thread and didn't realize my comment had caused such a stir.  Yes, I agree that there were lots of things my church required that I found sketchy but I went along with it because in the end, I just wanted to be married.  Thank you all though for your compliments on our wedding pictures.  
  • edited December 2011
    Our fee was $350 and covered the organist.  I did overhear my priest tell someone that if he gets a cash "tip" that he has to donate it to the church. The tips were given in the days before priests got salaries, so they were permitted to keep cash tips. So we have him a giftcard for Starbucks since he goes there every day, and giftcards for two local restaurants.
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  • lisaD26lisaD26 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Our fee. $1500.

    Yeah, Swallow that.
  • edited December 2011
    it'll make everyone feel better when you hear our church fee...

    $1500!!! thats a 200 year old church in a large city, but STILL! needless to say, we are not paying anything else toward the church!
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