what is considered a nice gift for the minister? Is a cash gift most common and most practical? If so, approximately how much would you give? I was thinking $150.00 but wasn't sure if that was in the appropriate range or not.
Yes, cash is best. The officient is performing the service as part of his or her profession, and should be paid as such. If he or she is also a personal friend, a small personal gift in addition is nice, though not necessary.
As for the correct amount, that varies. You might ask other recently-married couples in your area or place of worship.
One note: some congregations require the clergy to turn over cash gifts to the congregation or put them in a discretionary fund (esp. if s/he gets a decent salary, in which case doing weddings, etc., is considered part of the job for which the salary is given). The officiant may not care, but if that is the case in your congregation and you prefer to give him/her something to keep, give a "thing" gift or a gift certificate. Something small is just fine, especially in that circumstance. I'd avoid items engraved with the date, etc. -- what if everyone did that? His/her office would start to look like a gift shop. If you don't know him/her well enough to know what s/he enjoys, then maybe a plant, flowers, frame, book, or CD that you think s/he would like, or if you want to go bigger, a gc to a restaurant or a nice clothing store or salon. Another good idea is a contribution to a charity that s/he likes.
If the church charges a fee for the minister's services, then no additional gift is required unless you want to give something extra. If the church doesn't have a set fee, then base the amount that you give on the amount of time that the officiant spends with you. If the person performs premarital counseling, attends the rehearsal and/or travels some distance to your wedding, then be sure to compensate accordingly. In contrast, if the person doesn't perform any counseling and doesn't attend the rehearsal, then that person should receive less.
As gellchom mentioned, some churche, particularly Catholic ones, require that monetary gifts be turned over to the church. Therefore, you might also give a gift certificate or another item that the person can keep.
I don't know for sure, but I think neither of the pastors I know well would accept money as a direct payment. Perhaps the church has a set of fees, and there might be one there, I don't know (but I don't think so at my church, at least not if you're a congregation member). They would probably expect to be reimbursed for travel expenses if they had to travel very far.
And the two guys I know wouldn't think a cash gift was necessary, either. Doesn't help you much, I realize.
Here's my opinion, and I'm a minister.
If either of the couple are members of my church, or if their parents (either side) are, then I do not charge a fee for the wedding. These people pay my salary with their annual support of the church, and it's part of my job to conduct their weddings. If such folks insist on giving me a monetary gift in addition, I always put it in the Minister's Discretionary Fund, which is a checking account I control (it doesn't go through the church bookkeeping) and use for people's personal emergencies, gifts, kids' scholarships for camp, or whatever I think is worthy but not in the church budget.
I do a lot of weddings for non-members, and for those I charge $350. This includes as many meetings as necessary (usually 2 or 3), the rehearsal, and the ceremony. If I have to travel more than 25 miles, I ask to be reimbursed for mileage. When you count up the meetings, the rehearsal and the ceremony, plus the time I put into writing the ceremony and the phone and e-mail time, this is well over 10 hours. Frankly, I think $35 an hour is an incredible bargain, especially considering how much the couple is likely to be spending on other aspects of the wedding.
I've never had the nerve to do this, but colleagues who complain about being underpaid for weddings suggest telling the couple their fee is $350 (or whatever) OR 5% of the total cost of the wedding. That usually stops any complaints about the fee...
Having said all that, I will add that I treasure the few gifts that have been given to me by couples I've married. One couple where the groom was Chinese gave me a simple jade pendant on a red string. Another friend gave me a small silver pin shaped like a heart, which I wore on my robe for their ceremony.
If you don't know the celebrant well but want to give a meaningful/useful gift, I'd suggest a gift certificate to a bookstore or a nice restaurant.
I think bookstore gift certificates are great - the pastor can buy books for personal fun, for the church library, or for other people.
In my area, Friday and Saturday are the pastor's days off. Their work week runs Sunday through Thursday. Therefore, if they perform a wedding on their off days, I think they should be compensated for their time with a cash 'gift'. You might check with other recently married couples in your area for the amount. I would guess in the $100 range but I've never heard of anyone paying anything close to $350.
As someone else posted, if you are getting married in your church and if there is a fee, it will be listed in the application you must submit to the church office prior to booking the church. If you're still not sure, ask the church secretary. She knows everything! LOL
Does your church pass a collection plate? Because in that case it is my understanding you must also make an offering at your wedding, as it is also a type of mass. If there is no collection plate then I do not think you need to worry about HOW much you give, but in the same token I think it is right to give some money towards the church for marrying you. I think it depends on the church, and some are almost soley run on donations. So in that case they are performing a service soley for you, and should recieve a donation.
As for a gift, we have boughten our priest a book with photographs based on one of his particular interests. I think if you listen to thier sermons carefully you can get a slight idea of what thier interests are.
Since we attend the church we were married in, there was no 'fee' involved so we were on our own as to how much to give. My husband and I ended up deciding to give the church $200 and our priest a gift of $150 for all he did for us up to and including the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.
I'm not sure what the average or 'norm' are, though. That's just what we chose to give.
I believe our church recommended a "donation" of $200? We also gave our 2 altar boys $25 each.
Let's be practical here for a sec. The officiant provides you with a service for which you are paying. Period. Let's not start with gifts and gratuities. What about the officiant of a funeral, do you gift him? Only if that is already a well-established practice in your community would I add a gift. It's not necessary,.