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Ugh -- Wedding Officiant drama

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#1 meghan1177

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    Posted 03 October 2008 - 01:26 PM

    Maybe I'm over-reacting (a good possibillity), but I'm extremely annoyed. I just got off the phone with our wedding officiant and I'm not sure what to do.


    Back in May I emailed her on the recommendation of the ceremony location. She seemed nice, if a bit scattered. She told me then that it would cost $225 for the rehearsal and the ceremony.

    In July/August my finance and I have a call with her. We didn't have the best impression, but we didn't have a lot of choices and she seemed nice enough. She tried to push other services on us and we followed up declining them. My notes from the call say $225 for the rehearsal and the ceremony.

    We then send her the $100 deposit.

    Last weekend we went down to the location to meet vendors and establish what we were going to be doing. We met her a location of her choosing on Sunday morning for about an hour and a half. I had written up exactly what I wanted for the ceremony including a sand ceremony and a stone blessing.

    We get a much better impression of her at this meeting and we are very happy with our choice. We at one point mention that we had been interested in having live muscians at the cocktail hour but that we hadn't been happy with the ones that fit into our budget so we were scratching it. She offered to talk to her friends for us.


    She calls me Monday saying shes talked to her friends and they are available. I discuss the cost with FI and we decide we still aren't intersted (we wanted certain instruments and these weren't it). FI calls her and follows up with an email expressing our regret and asking her to confirm that the $225 is the right price.

    She sends us an email saying that it is $600 and it includes a specific service (hotel room turndown) that we've repeatedly asked her not to include.

    I email her and tell her we dont' want that service. She says take $125 off. So now we are at $475, not $225.

    I send her an email saying I was confused and could she explain the prices. She doesn't reply so I call her.

    She tells me that the sand ceremony and stone blessing are $50 each (okay, but shouldnt' you have mentioned that when we talked) and that her basic fee is $275 not $225 (okay, but I have an email from you saying otherwise).

    Well, that still leaves $100 not accounted for. She tells me it is the charge for meeting with us on Sunday. Huh? The $225 was meant to include "Consultation and Wedding Ceremony Planning" so why am I being charged $100 extra for that?

    She just kept telling me about all the time she's spent. She told me that she researched rehearsal dinner options for us (something we asked her not to do when she suggested). I explained that we had told her not to do that, but even if she had, we hadn't seen anything from it. She claimed it was emailed.

    I'm just torn. THere aren't a lot of options for officiants where we are getting married and she really seemed to get where we wanted to go with the ceremony. -- but I am really not a big fan of all these financial surprises.

    Am I being crazy, or is she out of line?

    #2 trance_angelx0x

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      Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:29 PM

      My opinion: definetly out of line. If you quote a price and change your mind later, that's her problem. I would put it nicely that she quoted that and you expect her to honour that.

      If she did work that you didn't request, you shouldn't have to pay for that.

      Hope it works out!

      #3 bumbles

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        Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:54 PM

        You're not crazy. I got confused trying to follow her "logic" for everything. Is she really the best option out there? Do you feel like you can trust her word in regard to the rate (meaning no surprises later) and that she'll be at the wedding and officiate according to the agreed terms? The fact that she was not transparent regarding services and rates gives me a bad feeling about the situation. Based on your post, it seems she's not very professional and even a bit sketchy. I hope things work out for you!

        #4 DanielleNDerek

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          Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:59 PM

          That sounds a little shady to me. She should of made her charges clear when you first starting dealing with her.
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          #5 cheese_diva

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            Posted 03 October 2008 - 03:08 PM

            I've never heard of an officiant doing any of those things? I always thought they just had a set rate and then worked with you on what to include in your ceremony to make it about you and your husband to be. Not an a'la carte menu with additional costs. Can you have a friend read the blessing and sand ceremony. Matt's sister did it and it was so much more special because she was apart of our ceremony.

            What next, 50 cents per wafer at communion or per blessing? Have you been to any friend's weddings that you enjoyed the officiant? Does your officiant work for your wedding ceremony location, I'm sorry I don't know the details but sounds like you're getting married at a hotel? You can hire a judge to perform the ceremony for usually a very small fee..

            Do you have a coordinator that can deal with this for you?
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            #6 sunset78

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              Posted 03 October 2008 - 03:10 PM

              Hmmm... methinks I smell something fishy...

              #7 Hartyt509

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                Posted 03 October 2008 - 04:10 PM

                Bin her - the costs are gonna go sky high she's a try on merchant. Obviously I'm only basing that on sketchy info (just to legally cover my ass lol)

                #8 Yari

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                  Posted 03 October 2008 - 11:58 PM

                  Totally fishy, I would fire her butt.

                  #9 cantorballard

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                    Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:03 AM

                    I definitely agree that this is unusual, but...as an officiant, and one who prides herself on professionalism and customer service, one thing that I urge everyone to do, is to have a written agreement in place with all of your vendors, before any money is changed hands, or commitment is made, or planning begins.

                    That being said, $225 is a pretty low price, especially for a DW. And for the most part - you get what you pay for, when hiring a wedding vendor. I hate when wedding officiants nickle and dime you, and start putting costs on the individual components of your ceremony. That's unprofessional, and a sign of someone inexperienced.

                    At this point, what are your choices? If you don't have many, then tell her you will not move forward with her, until she sends you a document (or write one up, send it to her, and ask her to sign it) to confirm every last possible charge she is thinking of.

                    In the end, she will control the marriage certificate, if she is your legal officiant of record. (Another benefit to having your civil ceremony in the US) so she will hold the upper hand. Don't let it get to the point where she holds you hostage for an extra few hundred, just to hand over the certificate.

                    Word of advice to all - spell all of your details out in advance, and get written agreements on everything!! It will save lots of heartache as you get closer to the wedding. You don't need these headaches!

                    #10 meghan1177

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                      Posted 04 October 2008 - 04:38 PM

                      Hey everyone -- thanks for the comments -- they were very helpful.

                      Just a couple of clarifications -- our wedding is in the US -- in Georgia. So it is a destination for all our family and friends (and us) but still very much a traditional wedding in all the other senses.

                      As for the contract and the price -- I do have the price, and what it supposedly entails in writing in the form of an email -- which isn't a contract per se, but I'm quite certain would be strong enough to hold up in court if it ever came to that (but it never will because she only has $100 from us and it's not worth all that).

                      All that said, I do have very good news. After talking to the officiant yesterday, I was totally bummed and annoyed, but I remembered that my mom's friend how lives on the island that we are getting married on had recommended a Reverend to us months ago. I hadn't really checked him out because he was affiliated with a church and we wanted a more non-denominational wedding. Anyway, long story short, I called him yesterday and talked to him a bit. He's absolutely delightful and I really enjoyed the call. So, I think we are changing officiants --and I couldn't be happier.

                      At the end of yesterdays call, the first officiant had told me she would send a break down of the costs in about an hour -- we finally received them this morning and it was absolutely clear that she didn't spend a whole lot of time actually listening to anything I said, or anything that FI and I had said when we met with her last weekend. Ugh.

                      Honestly, I really couldn't be happier about our decision -- now we just have to get on the phone with her on Monday and tell her and ask for our deposit back. Wish me luck!

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