Chelsea W.
Dedicated October 2020

Officiant dilemma – advice needed!

Chelsea W., on May 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM Posted in Wedding Ceremony 0 26
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A little backstory: My fiancé and I hired an officiant we found on WW for our October 2019 wedding back in December 2018. The contract agreement was for us to pay the officiant fee (50% up front to hold the date), remaining 50% on the wedding day, a hotel room for the night of the wedding, and travel to and from the venue (he’s coming 1.5 hours away from where we’re getting married.) He would arrive 1.5 hours before the ceremony on the wedding day, perform the ceremony, and possibly stay for the reception dinner.

In February 2019 my fiancé and I decided to push our wedding back to October 2020 to allow ourselves more time to plan and more time to save money. We notified our officiant of our change in plans as soon as we made the decision and asked if he would be willing to transfer the paid deposit to our new date, as our venue and catering did with no problem.

He told us via email that he was cool with moving the deposit to the new date, but didn’t send us a new contract reflecting that. This past weekend we followed up with a request that he send us an updated contract with the new date so we could sign it and make our change official. He wrote back, “Please see attachment below. There is a small update.”

We printed the new contract with our new date and cross-compared it to our old contract.

The change is this – He now wants a hotel room for two nights – the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding for two people. In our contract he wrote, “I ask for a double night stay at the hotel since I do not want to travel back home in the evening. When I do destination weddings, they are usually for two nights, no other meals, etc. I do not know if anyone will travel with me at this point, but can we leave that option open?”

It’s important to note that we’re getting married on a Saturday, 1.5 hours away from where he lives. Would you consider that to be a destination wedding? Also, he had no intention of going to the rehearsal before the wedding. I’m not sure if that is now his intention.

I’m not sure if this is normal or not, especially since he isn’t my childhood priest or my fiancé’s childhood pastor. He’s a stranger at this point who was hired to do a service. I kind of feel like we’re being taken advantage of, like we’re paying for a weekend getaway.


Any advice/thoughts/feedback will be greatly appreciated!

26 Comments

  • V
    VIP July 2019
    Veronica Online ·
    • Flag

    That seems very odd. Our officiant is traveling about 1.5 hours as well and he is performing the ceremony then driving back home. He will be attending the rehearsal and we had to pay extra for him to, but that was fine by us. We told him he was welcome to attend our reception or rehearsal dinner along with his wife, but he felt that it was our time to be with our family and politely declined. I have never heard of an officiant requiring you to pay for his hotel room or anything like that.

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  • Hannah
    VIP July 2019
    Hannah ·
    • Flag
    Yeah, I have never heard of am officiant requiring hotel stay. And 1.5 hours is not a destination wedding. I understand a slight upcharge for travel, but not a hotel room. That's crazy.
    • Reply
  • SraDeCarrillo
    Super August 2019
    SraDeCarrillo ·
    • Flag

    Sounds too shady to me. See if you can get your deposit back. You have plenty of time to find someone else. An hour and a half isn’t a destination wedding. I think he is trying to play you guys for a free trip.

    • Reply
  • Jessica
    VIP October 2019
    Jessica ·
    • Flag
    That's a little too much in my opinion. Agree with PPs.

    Officiant dilemma – advice needed! 1
    • Reply
  • Heather
    Savvy June 2019
    Heather ·
    • Flag

    Yeah, that's weird. My photographer is traveling 2 hours each way, and while she has a travel fee (understandably!), she didn't ask for a hotel room or anything of the sort.

    I would push back at least on the second night and second person. Since you originally agreed to one night, I don't know how much you'll be able to renegotiate that. But if you don't want or need him for the rehearsal, there's absolutely no need for a second night. And a second person? Almost every place I've worked with a travel policy has the rule that you can bring along your spouse/kids/whatever, but any extra expenses you incur for them (plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc) are covered solely by the employee in question. That should be how it is for him too - if he wants to bring another person a whole 1.5 hours away, he can pay for them. Not you.

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  • Renée
    Devoted March 2019
    Renée ·
    • Flag
    I would find someone else. You’ll likely lose your deposit, but I wouldn’t agree to that unless the wedding was really late in the day and/or they had night driving issues. What are his reviews like?
    • Reply
  • Nykole
    Expert October 2019
    Nykole ·
    • Flag
    Get that deposit back if you can and find someone else. He seems a bit shady for sure.
    • Reply
  • Paula
    Super September 2019
    Paula ·
    • Flag

    That seems like you are being taken advantage of. I wouldn't necessarily call 1.5 hours away a "destination" wedding! I would also think it's his duty to be at the rehearsal, just seems very odd. Is it too late to get your deposit back and look for another officiant?

    • Reply
  • Lauren
    Savvy October 2019
    Lauren ·
    • Flag
    I’d fire him
    • Reply
  • Futuremrsv
    Super October 2020
    Futuremrsv ·
    • Flag
    This seems really shady to me. Seems like he is trying to have a weekend away. I have NEVER heard of an officiant requiring for the bride and groom to pay for their hotel stay.
    I could obviously see something like its requires you feed them, but a hotel stay for 2 nights? No
    • Reply
  • Mandi
    VIP March 2020
    Mandi ·
    • Flag
    Is the second person staying in the room, or getting a separate room? Because 2 rooms for 2 nights would be a definite no for me.
    I would also require them to come to the rehersal if they are coming and staying the night before.

    I dont know that he's trying to screw you over, but his requests are very odd.
    • Reply
  • Madison
    Devoted April 2020
    Madison ·
    • Flag
    I would find someone else. Sorry you have to deal with that but definitely worth it to find someone who isn’t going to do that to you
    • Reply
  • Kathleen
    Savvy June 2019
    Kathleen ·
    • Flag

    Find someone else.. I agree with a lot of the other brides that have already commented. Better to lose a deposit then spends hundreds on this person..

    • Reply
  • S
    Savvy October 2020
    Sandy ·
    • Flag
    Yea I agree, that us odd. 1.5 hours is hardly a destination wedding.. I agree that yes, possible extra money for travel, but not a 2 night stay. Sounds shady.. Get your $$ back if you can and get someone else. Good luck
    • Reply
  • Chelsea W.
    Dedicated October 2020
    Chelsea W. ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    He had previously said a full/queen bed (?) so I’m assuming he’s now asking for 1 room, 2 nights.

    My friend said the same thing - maybe consider giving him a hotel for the Friday night only if he attends the actual rehearsal earlier that day.
    • Reply
  • Chelsea W.
    Dedicated October 2020
    Chelsea W. ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    His reviews are amazing and that’s the most frustrating part. He apparently gets to know his couples and makes the ceremony extremely personalized. We talked for two hours via FaceTime to “meet” since I live 4 hours away and couldn’t meet in person. He was so nice. He has a 5.0 rating and has been awarded the WW Couples Choice Awards every year from ‘13-‘19.

    This just seems really weird and not like the same person I spoke with.
    • Reply
  • Sherry
    Rockstar September 2019
    Sherry ·
    • Flag
    Sounds like someone wants a free mini vacay. My officiant is also traveling but they have an additional fee for their travel ($50). We invited them to stay for the reception and they will go home afterwards. Seems sketchy to me.
    • Reply
  • Hermione
    Devoted February 2020
    Hermione ·
    • Flag

    My officiant did none of this.

    My officiant charged a flat fee upfront. Her contract didn't have any conditions like hotel rooms, travel, or food. She did make a request for a single parking spot.... But while limited is free. It was the dead average for the area rate.

    She also gave me a 14k words word document to read to give ideas to personalize the ceremony... This was a tad overwhelming. I didn't have to memorize or read it all but it's here are samples document and a rough outline.

    And we still need to schedule a Skype meeting. We're dropping the ball on our end on that but meh. We got time.
    • Reply
  • Eamsee
    Super June 2019
    Eamsee ·
    • Flag

    If I were in your situation, I would cut my losses and find another officiant (of course only if you can afford to). That's super sketchy and you are definitely being taken advantage of. Is he elderly? Then I could understand about the hotel room for one night. But 1.5 hours is certainly not a destination wedding, in my opinion, and now all of a sudden he wants a second night at a hotel and with a guest of his own? I wouldn't was someone to officiate my wedding when the thought of them puts the taste of vinegar in my mouth.

    • Reply
  • Chelsea W.
    Dedicated October 2020
    Chelsea W. ·
    • Flag
    Thanks so much everyone for your feedback! My FH and I are going to be looking for someone else to officiate our wedding.
    • Reply

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