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A wedding officiant business provides couples who want to marry with someone who is licensed and authorized by the state to perform the wedding ceremony. Wedding officiants must be ordained to marry people in a wedding ceremony. Notable ULC ordained officiants include Richard Branson, Paul McCartney, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Usually, wedding officiants perform non-religious ceremonies, but some wedding officiants are ordained by a religious organization to perform religious weddings. Some wedding officiant businesses provide couples with wedding planning assistance for an additional fee.
Who is this business right for?
A wedding officiant business is a good match for anyone who is looking for a side business. Wedding officiants themselves should enjoy interacting socially with a wide range of people, be comfortable speaking in public, and love weddings. In addition, since weddings are typically held on the weekend, someone thinking about starting this type of business should have a flexible schedule.
What happens during a typical day at a wedding officiant business?
A wedding officiant spends most of the week marketing and speaking with potential clients. Many people choose to run their wedding officiant business on a part-time basis, and they only work an hour or two a day answering emails and speaking with clients. Wedding officiants usually spend a few hours at each wedding presiding over the ceremony. Some wedding officiant businesses choose to offer wedding planning services, so they spend much more of their time consulting with clients, caterers, florists, space managers, and other wedding-related businesses.
What is the target market?
Most clients of wedding officiant are couples who want a non-religious wedding for personal reasons. Since the nationwide legalization of same-sex couples to marry, many clients are members of the LGBTQ community.
How does a wedding officiant business make money?
A wedding officiant business makes money by charging for conducting a wedding service.
What is the growth potential for a wedding officiant business?
Since the legalization of LGBTQ marriages, more same-sex marriages are performed in the US than ever before. The number of heterosexual couples plus the rising number of same-sex couples seeking non-religious marriages means that wedding officiants will continue to be in high demand.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful wedding officiant business?
In order to marry a couple, an individual needs to be ordained. Luckily, it is very simple to become ordained online. In addition to being ordained, a wedding officiant business owner should have a natural ability to engage with a wide variety of people. A business owner should feel comfortable working with people from the LGBTQ community and should not hold any biases against any race or religious group. A wedding officiant business owner should also have a solid background in running a business including marketing and accounting.
What are the costs involved in opening a wedding officiant business?
One of the best aspects of starting a wedding officiant business is that you can start this type of business for little or no money. However, there are a couple of purchases that will help your business run smoothly:
- Ordination - You can become ordained for little or no money online. There are several options. Many wedding officiants choose to become ordained through the Universal Life Church for free. There are other groups online who can ordain you, like the American Marriage Ministries.
- A computer - You will need to keep track of your reservations, and a computer is a great tool to help you do that. Any computer is suitable for this task, and if you don't already have one, you can buy an inexpensive computer for $300.
- A website and hosting - Most of your clients will find you through your website. It is worth investing a decent amount of my money to have a professional web presence. For this type of business, you don't need a complex website, but simple, well-designed should cost under $500. You can host your site for around $60 a year.
- Transportation - You will need a vehicle to travel to ceremonies. Most wedding officiant business owners use their personal car.
- Formal wardrobe. Weddings can range from informal, theme-based weddings to very formal occasions. You will need to have clothing to fit a wide range of situations. Most wedding officiants wear personal clothing. You may choose to buy a wardrobe specifically for your business.
What are the steps to start a wedding officiant business?
Once you're ready to start your wedding officiant business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your wedding officiant business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your wedding officiant business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a wedding officiant business?
Start close to home, go slow, and have realistic monetary goals for your business. Many people in the industry never have enough clients to allow them to work full-time in the industry.
How to promote & market a wedding officiant business
There is usually no repeat business for a wedding officiant business. That means you will constantly need to be looking for new clients. However, providing a wonderful experience for your clients can lead to referrals for additional clients.
Use your website to drive business with content marketing and online advertising. Create partnerships with other wedding service industries like florists and event spaces who are in the position to recommend you to their clients. Promote your wedding officiant business within local groups and organizations.
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How to keep customers coming back
A lot of your business may come from word-of-mouth. It's critical that you treat each of your clients special, to encourage them to suggest your services to their friends. Always keep a few business cards on hand to give out at the ceremonies where you officiate.
How and when to build a team
Unless you are pairing your wedding officiant business with another wedding-related business, there is very little reason to build a team.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
In most states, it is necessary to obtain a wedding officiant license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a wedding officiant business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Have a service contract ready and signed before putting aside time out of your schedule to officiate. Although unfortunate, be sure to include terms on how a situation is handled if the wedding is called off or other circumstances arise. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your wedding officiant business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Certificate of Occupancy
A wedding officiant business can be operated out of an office. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease office space:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a wedding officiant business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build office space:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your wedding officiant business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
Professional wedding officiants typically make between $100 - $400 per ceremony and some require a small fee for the rehearsal. Additionally, it is not uncommon to charge a per mile transportation fee.
What are the ongoing expenses for a wedding officiant business?
Marketing, hosting and maintaining your website, transportation, and the cost of updating your wardrobe are the only ongoing expenses.
How much profit can a wedding officiant business make?
With the low startup and running costs, a wedding officiant business may seem ideal. The one downside is that the amount of money you make greatly depends on where you located and how many weddings you do each week. Since most weddings are seasonal and only take place during the weekend, your opportunity to earn is limited.
How can you make your business more profitable?
It is possible to make a very good profit as a wedding officiant when you combine the business with wedding planning or event space leasing. Wedding officiants who want to turn their businesses into full-time ventures should definitely consider these two add-on businesses.