Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Big Fat Catholic Wedding: Part VII - The Money Breakdown

One of the things I was really curious about when we first got engaged was just how much it was going to cost to get married in the Catholic Church. The answer (unfortunately) is quite a large chunk of change.

Wedding prices vary from Church to Church, but most Catholic churches are in the same general ballpark. I thought the amount we paid the church was a bit excessive, especially considering that the Church technically isn't allowed to charge for Sacraments (from Prince of Peace: "There is no charge for Sacraments in the Catholic Church. Our parish incurs expenses such as heating/air conditioning, maintenance, and clean-up for weddings. To help defray these expenses, you are asked to pay a church usage fee of $600"). It seems to me like $600 is a bit much for A/C and clean-up, but who knows. Here's what we paid:

Chapel Usage Fee - $600 (this includes a $200 discount for registered parishioners)
Accompanist - $150*
Cantor - $125*
Clergy "Gift" - $75**
Required FOCCUS test - $25
Required Engaged Encounter retreat - $195
Required Premarital Counseling - $100

Total: $1270 (this does not include flowers for the Ceremony, non-Church musicians for the Ceremony, etc.)

Now, we saved some money by having our wedding in the Chapel instead of the Church. Weddings in the Church at Prince of Peace require a "Sound Minister" to man the mixing board, which is another $100. We also saved money by skipping the full Mass. Full Mass (with Communion) weddings require two altar servers at $20 each. So if you were to do a Full Mass wedding in the large Church, you'd be looking at a $1410 bill.

*We hired a string quartet to do the music for our Ceremony. However, the Church had its own arrangements of music for the Gospel Acclamation (the "Alleluia" thing) and the Responsorial Psalm, which required a piano player and singer. I've been to other weddings where the GA and RP were read rather than sung, but Prince of Peace required the piano/cantor thing in order to "conform to liturgical tradition." So, we basically were forced to pay $275 for approximately 2 minutes of music. You do what you've gotta do.

**From what I can tell, anywhere from $50 to $150 is acceptable for a gift to the priest. We went with $75.

Summary: Getting married in the Catholic Church is expensive. Some of what you're paying for is the marriage prep process and the priest you're working with, which (in my opinion) are pretty valuable. Some of what you're paying for is 2 minutes of singing or a lousy marriage counselor, which (in my opinion) aren't valuable.

For Jeff and me there was never any hesitation about having our wedding in a Catholic Church. We both were steadfastly set on it, and we just paid the payments because we didn't have a choice. But I can imagine the high prices would turn some people away from Catholic weddings, which is sad.

What do you think? Are the required payments excessive? Fair? Catholic readers: would those prices make you hesitate to have a Catholic wedding?


Previously in this series:
Part I - The Process
Part II - The FOCCUS test


  1. I would definitely hesitate because of those prices. I've never heard of a Catholic church charging so much though! At my church at home, they just ask for a donation of about $100, and you're allowed to have your own music and stuff, or you can ask the choir to sing.

    Keep in mind, my church at home is mostly senior citizens and friends of my grandparents and my family, but the other Catholic churches are mostly the same. Maybe because it's a little Hispanic town where we're all poor haha.

    Its good to know, though, that since there are about a million Catholic churches around Tx you can shop around. ;)

  2. Ahh that's so true. I bet it varies based on the community. But we were having the wedding in suburban Houston, so I think most of the churches around there were like that.

    I do think though that if you went to them and said you really couldn't afford it, they would work something out for you. Although it would be hard to convince a church that you couldn't afford their $1200 if you were spending many, many thousands on a wedding reception.