Start a wedding officiant business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your wedding officiant business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
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 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.
Who 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.
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.
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.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your wedding officiant business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
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.
STEP 5: 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.
STEP 6: 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.
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.
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.
STEP 7: 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.
STEP 8: 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.
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.
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.
STEP 9: Establish your 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.
Start A Wedding Officiant Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
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 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 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.
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Take the Next Step
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.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
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 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.