I received this question regarding gifts for officiants:
"I was just wondering, do you normally buy something for the Minister that is marrying you? If so, what ideas do you have."
This was my reply:
Traditionally Ministers, as with other types of religious or non-religious celebrants, charge a standard fee for officiating at wedding ceremonies. They are performing the service of marrying you as part of his or her profession and should therefore expect to be paid as such. If you are getting married in a church and if there is a standard fee applicable then it will be listed in the application you will have to submit to the church office prior to booking the church. An exception to this case is if you or your parents are a member of the church, in which case the Minister sometimes waives the fee.
If the church does not have a set fee, a cash gift is the most common and most practical way to thank your Minister. The appropriate range varies between $150-350. This might seem like a lot of money but you should equate it against how much time and effort your Minister has invested in your wedding - how many meetings they have attended with you, time spent on writing the ceremony, premarital counseling, travel costs (if appropriate), attending the rehearsal and of course the ceremony. When you add these all up then you will see that you are getting a real bargain compared to what you will undoubtedly be spending on other aspects of your wedding.
Usually when you pay a Minister they place the money in a church discretionary fund which they use for worthy causes in the local area. A lot of churches and other houses of worship run solely on donations. It is unusual for a Minister to keep monetary gifts for their own personal use. In this case, you might also like to give your Minister a personal gift to express your appreciation of all their support and effort in making your wedding day a success. Although it is not expected a small personal gift for the Minister is a nice thought.
Ideas for gifts
The gift you choose for your Minister need not be expensive, particularly if you are already paying the Minister a fee for their services. It should be something thoughtful or useful.
♥ If you know the Minister well buy them something meaningful such as small piece of jewelry (if they are female), e.g. a pretty brooch or silver pin shaped like a heart.
♥ Buy your Minister something to do with what they enjoy doing in their spare time. You might get some ideas for this from listening to their sermons (I discovered that my Minister was an avid football fan and I only attended two services prior to my wedding) or asking the Church Secretary what their hobbies and interests are, e.g. gardening, photography, sailing.
♥ If you don't know him/her well enough to know what they enjoy then how about a plant or flower arrangement - they are always a safe but popular choice.
♥ Again, for a Minister you don’t know very well, personal gifts that show thought are a photo frame, book, CD or a piece of local artwork.
♥ You could make a contribution to a charity that the Minister favors in their name.
♥ A useful gift is a gift certificate for a bookstore so that the Minister can buy books for personal fun, for the church library or for other people.
♥ Alternatively, you could buy the Minister a gift certificate for a local restaurant – everyone loves to eat out!
♥ If you are still unsure about how much money to give then ask other recently married couples in your area or church what they gave the Minister.
♥ If you are unsure whether to give a cash gift or personal gift to your Minister the best person to ask is the Church Secretary. They will be able to recommend how much your cash gift should be, and will give you ideas for a gift as they will know the Minister’s personal interests better than anyone!
♥ If you know the Minister personally or if they are a close friend or family member you might well feel uncomfortable offering them money. If this is the case then it is wholly appropriate for you to buy the Minister a gift instead as, or as well as, a cash donation.
I hope this helps!
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