@sablemuse: … being ripped off by officiants … It is UNREAL what they want to charge for their services/facilities whether you are a member or not.
Not trying to thread-jack here (especially after this was rescued from the other thread!), but I do think a little perspective is in order on this point: most brides out there spend at least several hundred and possibly several thousand dollars on their gowns. Several hundred to a few thousand is also the norm for the photography, the flowers, etc.
The officiant, especially in a house of worship, is the one who solemnizes the marriage. I think it’s a little skewed when it’s okay to spend a ton on the dress or the flowers, but it’s a big burden to pay a comparable amount to the house of worship where the sacrament takes place, or the ceremony is hosted, or however the faith tradition views it.
It’s a bit like complaining about how much it costs to pay ceremony musicians. Yeah, if you take the superficial view you can say “we paid hundreds of dollars for X minutes of music” – but you’re writing off the countless hours of practice those musicians put in to get where they are, the fact that they need to buy & maintain instruments, their transportation costs, their attire, the time they put into the rehearsal for the wedding itself … Clergy members are, in general, not highly paid for all that they do. They put in a lot of time, energy, and love into their education and training. They work all week in order to be able to work on the weekend, and when they officiate a wedding, that is on top of all of their other responsibilities to their congregation, etc. And, as you yourself noted, when it’s a house of worship and not a freelance officiant, that money doesn’t usually go into the celebrant’s pocket. It pays for the lights and the heat and the air conditioning, and the church/synagogue/temple’s programming, and insurance, and the custodian’s salary, and …
So, *getting down off soapbox*, I would just counsel brides out there who feel annoyed at having to pay what seems like a high fee to the house of worship where the wedding is to be held – ask yourself, “Is our marriage worth as much to me as our flowers? or our photographs? or my dress?” Etc. Because when it comes down to it, the marriage is the whole point and (hopefully) the most lasting outcome of the day. Even more so than the photos.
Okay. Thread-jack suspended. Carry on.