Emergency Officiant Fees, Holiday Fees and Reasons I Have Them..

I’m often asked why holiday events incur an additional charge. Although every vendor in this industry has an “up charge” directly related to special dates, today we will visit the reasons why.

Christmas is a busy time for every consumer, wedding officiants, photographers, and event coordinators have families that include obligations of cooking and shopping for gifts and, most assuredly must alter their personal schedules in order to accommodate a last minute request.

In fact, my personal schedule is at his highest during the holiday season due to my numerous affiliations to charity organizations. I have numerous requests for families without money for a holiday meal or gifts for their children on top of a burgeoning list of commitments previously made by Cindy Daniel and I to address the needs of the less fortunate and, often unexpected requests for even clothing to have proper attire for a new job from connections on FB, linkedin and Twitter sites. As you can imagine, I am in fact, quite busy, so altering of a schedule previously set can cause quite an upheaval for me.

Simply because you “booked” a no show officiant at a price lower than my posted fees DOES NOT OBLIGATE me to perform my task at the price of the person who didn’t bother to show up!

I’m always baffled as to how a couple who had planned every last detail to their event could have overlooked booking a wedding officiant until Christmas Eve? After all, without a Minister, you’ve just planned a fairly expensive “party.”

Perhaps you had booked an officiant that FTA (Failed to Appear) this is not uncommon for me and I’ve ceased being amazed at the completely unprofessional attitude of someone who made a commitment to a family they failed to keep! Personally, I’ve had 23 of these “emergency phone calls” with a very small window to grab everything and get to the venue with as little as 20 minutes due to the failure of the scheduled person not showing up at an event! I find such reprehensible behavior an embarrassment to the entire wedding industry and have no idea how on earth anyone purporting to be a professional could be capable of such a horrific act! Personally, I have a Plan A, Plan B and even a Plan C in order for any mishap that might preclude me from arriving EARLY TO AN EVENT. I over plan and I over prepare.

The Emergency Fee along with the Holiday Fee schedule both have specific reasons relating to an up charge. Much like altering my schedule to accommodate an FTA wedding officiant or the necessity of a team member for any other service we offer to attend to your needs- our own schedules must be altered to accommodate your own.

When I arrive at an event to replace the mysterious “No Show” wedding officiant, I have not met the couple or discussed their desires of my role in their wedding. I have not had had the same opportunities for preparation that my predecessor had and for these reasons I must now RUSH through these very important aspects with an upset Bride and a Groom and often wedding the wedding party and/or the parents. You see, I had nothing to do with the NO SHOW but am forced to effectively “clean up their mess.”

I recent was called to an emergency that required not only a rehearsal but the ceremony too. Imagine my horror upon arriving that the venue had been prepaid for my services to the Minister who was somehow on a vacation in Hawaii? Shocked that their officiant affiliated with the venue that had been booked months in advance had scheduled a vacation on the required dates? Horrified, I asked who was responsible for paying me to dash over immediately and address the needs of this couple. After being advised that payment was included in “the package” I found myself confused as to what “package” everyone was speaking of.

Nonetheless and anyhow, rather than disappoint this already upset wedding party, I conducted the rehearsal with my usual attention to the desires of not only the couple but also the wedding party and families WITHOUT PAYMENT and decided to take up the issue of payment with the venue owner instead to avoid further conflict. The following day after arriving for the wedding, the on site “wedding consultant” hastily approached me to hand me $100.00 prior to the ceremony. This was a problem for a number of reasons:

1. I do NOT have an affiliation with the venue or vendor and therefore do NOT discount my services.
2. A rehearsal and a ceremony are TWO different events ie: I had to make a 45 minute trip TWICE to the location and, perform a ceremony TWICE as well.
3. My fees which include emergency calls are clearly listed on my website along with additional fees of holidays, rehearsals, wedding ceremonies or, wedding ceremonies and rehearsals combined. There is no package of these 3 items together and, I do not have a fee of $100 for either a wedding ceremony or, rehearsals UNLESS there is a discount involved for Firefighters, First Responders, LBGT Couples, Police or other Volunteer organization with which I am affiliated.
4. Recognizing my confusion and further confounded by the fact that I refused to accept the hastily handed hundred dollar bill, the “coordinator” (I use this term loosely because obvious to myself and everyone else- her sense of coordination fell so far off the mark the term itself for a title related to her position at the venue is ridiculous!).
5. This type of conflict prior to an event is very unsettling for a person like myself who works diligently to AVOID CONFLICT and strives for order among chaos- was the last thing I needed!
6. I asked who and how this amount had been decided since such an amount was not in any way attributed or associated with my services and was told “this is the amount we pay our minister and this was what we decided to pay you.
7. When I’m “called in” to clean up someone else’s mess, I will not have anyone other than myself quote fees. Assuming something like this after I dropped everything to correct someone’s else’s mistakes is perhaps one of the most arrogant and misconceived perceptions I’ve ever encountered in my entire professional history.

Due to the above outrageous encounters as well as excuses of “we can’t pay you because we paid the person who didn’t show up” I’m writing this blog to better address the issues of those who I have no affiliation with and illustrate my reasons to give you a clearer understanding of why these fees exist and are clearly outlined.

As I dash off to “save the day” it would appear relevant that couples consider a well known quote “you get what you pay for” the cheapest isn’t always the most reliable or, professional. Cheating out on perhaps the most important aspect of your wedding is a mistake that’s made with regularity, don’t make this mistake for your event.

Wendy M Wortham
The Pawning Planners