With today’s economy and cost of living, many people are looking for the side hustle, a way to make extra income on the weekends or off- hours. Some deliver pizza, some drive for Uber or Lyft, and some keeping using Dad’s gas card to buy groceries at the convenience store.
A unique year-round way to bring in some extra cash is to offer your services as a wedding officiant. Performing weddings is an excellent source of extra income for pastors, performers, celebrity impersonators, or even costumed characters. Here are a few handy tips to get started.
Obtain the proper credentials.
In the U.S., credentials and license requirements for wedding officiants vary from state to state. The first step is to check with the county clerk in the location the wedding is held and confirm any requirements. A local online search will connect you quickly with the right person. Some counties have very few, while others will expect proof of credentials and registration at the clerk’s office. They will probably ask for some type of documentation such as a ministerial license, a letter of good standing, or proof of ministry.
If you are in need of credentialing but do not have religious affiliation, there are a number of online options for organizations that will provide credentials. Many secular and humanist societies provide the proper documentation for you to perform as a non-religious wedding officiant. These sites also offer resources such as ceremonies and wedding formats.
If you do have religious affiliation, make sure you are aware of any restrictions or requirements your own denomination or faith tradition may have.
Determine your rates.
Determining your service costs is another critical element to consider. On average, a wedding officiant can expect to charge $150-$250 depending on the complexity of the ceremony and the numbers of roles you have to fill. Also be aware of travel costs and mileage.
Remember that couples face a large number of significant items to pay for, and you’ll want to avoid pricing yourself out of the market. Customers will often be tempted to cut corners and save money, using friends or family members in place of professionals. Overcharging can reinforce this mistake. Be reasonable in your cost and flexible in your approach.
Know your role.
You’ll want to work closely with your client and clarify exactly what they need you to do. Our advice here is to be flexible. This is an important day in people’s lives and it’s best to see it as a privilege and honor versus a paycheck. You don’t want the couple’s memories of their big day to include a demanding or difficult wedding officiant. Wedding day tensions are high enough with Bridezillas, Groomzillas, Momzillas, creepy groomsmen, diva bridesmaids, and wedding crashers. Your role as the officiant can be a powerful stabilizing and calming factor in an otherwise stressful day.
Typically, you’ll work with a wedding coordinator for the rehearsal and the ceremony. Confirm with your client if there will be a rehearsal and if you need to be there. If so, walk through the ceremony several times until the couple is comfortable with the plan.
Another critical role of the officiant is to oversee the legal signing of the wedding documents. Most counties require your signature, the signature of two witnesses, and the couple themselves. There may also be a formal certificate to be returned to the county as well as a decorative one for the couple to keep.
Develop different ceremony formats.
Once you’ve received your legal credentials, start developing a variety of ceremonies. You’re in a business now, and that requires you to serve a diverse set of customers. At the very least, you will need a formal “Dearly Beloved” ceremony and an informal ceremony for more relaxed occasions.
From there, begin to explore other backgrounds and faith traditions for cool elements to add to a ceremony. Incorporating poetry or passages from literature is another unique way to make the big day distinctive.
A growing trend is looking to pop culture for themed weddings. Many couples first connected over a shared loved of a movie or TV show, so why not celebrate their love that way? Popular weddings come from such phenomenons as Star Trek, Harry Potter, the Princess Bride, and even Game of Thrones. (On second thought, avoid a wedding from Game of Thrones, they never end well.)
Network with other wedding professionals.
At GigSalad, we always encourage good working relationships among our members and professionals. Consider ways to connect and develop associations with other service providers. Speak with photographers and videographers about how you will work together throughout the ceremony. Connect with the DJ and audio team about microphones and how any media may be incorporated into the ceremony. Wedding planners and wedding venues often get asked to refer to officiants so leave your card and contact info with them. Great business partnerships mean great business for everyone.
Whether you are a pastor or impersonator, comedian or character, you can look to the wedding season to keep your side hustle going and create extra income. Adding wedding officiant to your list of skills is pretty simple and allows you to be a part of people’s best day!