Be careful not to assume your church wedding musician gets paid to play for your wedding by the church.
It’s normal to not realize that what your church pays its musicians (e.g., music director, organists, pianists) does not cover playing for weddings, if they even get paid! This is especially easy to misunderstand when getting married in a somewhat or completely unfamiliar church.
Weddings are on their own time
The musician is likely expected to play for weddings and their rehearsals but the payment for this doesn’t come from the church.
This isn’t true in every case, of course. A church may collect a set fee on behalf of musicians, but even that is intended to make up for weddings not being included in their salaries (if they are actually employed by the church, which many aren’t).
Playing for a wedding takes a lot of time
The musician plays for weddings, attends rehearsals and often practices on his or her own time. When additional musicians (such as soloists) are used, rehearsals are necessary, requiring even more time. Whether employed by the church or employed elsewhere, very few have much spare time to start with!
Many smaller churches don’t even have a staff musician, relying instead on volunteers who probably have a full-time job. In this case, it is even more important to recognize how much of their time is sacrificed by playing for a wedding.
Just as you expect to pay your florist, reception DJ or others what their time is worth, be sure your wedding budget includes a fair payment for your ceremony musician.
All this doesn’t help answer the oft-asked question “how much will my wedding ceremony musicians cost?”
It’s not an easy question to answer. It’ll be a lot easier to figure out if you have a good understanding of what you’re really asking of them.
Check out my Guide to Selecting Memorable Church Wedding Music—it includes an entire chapter on the topic of finding and paying your wedding musicians.
What helpful information do you have?
What’s a fair rate for a ceremony musician where you live (it varies widely)? Share your knowledge with fellow readers. I appreciate hearing from you!
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