Church Wedding Ceremony Costs: Breakdown, Tips, Tricks, & How to Save

Are you planning a church wedding ceremony? If so, you're not alone in your choice! Every year, thousands of couples around the world say 'I do' in a church or other religious building.

Churches are peaceful venues that constantly hum with a subtle vibration of love, community, and commitment. Think about the devoted church members who regularly attend service and the community they've created: that kind of energy leaves a lasting mark. Besides that, chapels, churches, basilicas, and cathedrals are architecturally beautiful places that make wonderful wedding backdrops.

Like all weddings, planning a church ceremony involves careful consideration of costs. By understanding the factors that influence the price tag and exploring our church wedding ceremony ideas on a budget, you can have the special day you've always dreamed of without taking breaking the bank.

Here's our guide to navigating your church wedding ceremony costs and budget:

Is it Worth Getting Married in a Church?

Deciding if it's worth getting married in a church depends on your preferences, priorities, and beliefs. If you and your sweetheart desire a strong religious connection or spiritual element in your wedding, a church ceremony can be a powerful statement. 

Another advantage of a church wedding is that members and affiliates usually receive reduced or free venue fees. Of course, this should be a secondary factor to your faith and beliefs.

Who Pays for the Wedding Ceremony?

Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding ceremony in most parts of the world. The groom's family would be financially responsible for the rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, wedding day transportation, and the officiant. 

However, that isn't always true in modern times. Couples and their families should divide the costs of the wedding according to their situation. Use tradition as a guide, but do what works best for you.

Who pays for what in a Catholic wedding?

In a Catholic wedding, the couple typically pays for church-related expenses, including any fees for using the space. Additionally, the soon-to-be-married couple pays for marriage preparation programs mandated by the Catholic Church and all prerequisite sacraments. Traditionally, the bride's family covers reception expenses, including venue, catering, and decor.

A couple staring at each other in the church

How much do you give a priest for a Catholic wedding?

The amount you pay the priest for a Catholic wedding depends on the time they spend preparing for your ceremony. Remember that the priest must also be paid for premarital counseling. Donating at least $300 is appropriate if you receive several counseling sessions. If there is no counseling and little preparation, a $100 to $150 donation would be acceptable.

Who pays for the pastor at a wedding?

Donating to the pastor is customary as a token of appreciation for their time, wisdom, and guidance. The amount varies and is influenced by denomination, location, and the church's policies, but it ranges from $100 to $500. Typically, the couple will pay for the pastor at their wedding.

How Much Does a Small Church Wedding Cost?

The cost of a small church wedding will vary widely depending on factors like location, number of guests, decor, and more. On average, a small church wedding could range from $500 to $3,000 or more. The venue rental fee is usually the biggest cost associated with a church wedding. Some locations charge a flat fee, while others request a donation. 

Church Wedding Ceremony Cost breakdown

The cost breakdown for a church wedding ceremony will vary widely based on the denomination, location, and guest list size. Here is a general breakdown of potential costs associated with a church wedding ceremony:

  • Venue fee. Many churches charge a fee for using their facilities for a wedding ceremony. 
  • Officiant donation. Couples will usually pay a stipend or donation to the priest, minister, or officiant who conducts the ceremony (more on that below).
  • Marriage preparation programs. Some churches require couples to participate in marriage preparation programs or counseling sessions, which usually cost a small fee.
  • Ceremony decor. While some churches may provide basic decorations, couples often enhance the ceremony space with additional flowers, candles, or other decor. 
  • Administrative Fees. There may be additional charges for processing paperwork, scheduling the ceremony, and coordinating.
  • Rehearsal and reception. If you plan to have a rehearsal before the wedding or your reception afterward, there may be additional fees for using the church. If you're on a budget, check out our guide to wedding reception costs, complete with money-saving tips.

Note that this is a general breakdown of church wedding ceremony costs, but you should also consider typical wedding expenses, such as invites, signage, meals, attire, etc.

How much does a Catholic wedding ceremony cost?

Planning a traditional Catholic wedding is unique to other types of church weddings. Still, every church is different when it comes to wedding fees.

In the Catholic tradition, marriage is considered one of the seven sacraments, which means there are a few steps you must take before you can get married: both bride and groom must have a baptism, first communion, and confirmation with documentation for each of these sacraments. That means planning and executing all those ceremonies before your wedding at appropriate costs.

Some Catholic churches charge for the total time spent in the church, including rehearsal, while others have a fixed price. Most Catholic church weddings range from $500 to $1,000.

What Additional Costs Should I Consider For A Church Wedding?

When calculating your church wedding ceremony cost, it's important to consider additional expenses beyond the venue fee. Ask yourself if your ceremony will include any of the following:

  • Altar server or liturgical assistant. A priest may enlist the assistance of their altar server. You may be able to have a friend or family member fill this role, but, they might not know where everything is. If you have this option, you need to decide if enlisting the altar server is easier.
  • Organists or musicians. The first, and often-forgotten, expense associated with a church wedding is the cost of hiring organists or church musicians. While this type of music is optional, it's a great way to fully use the venue's acoustical design and add beautiful church tunes to your ceremony. Expect to spend between $300 and $900 on organists or musicians for your church wedding.
  • Steeples and coverings. If your desired church wedding venue has steeples with bells to ring during the ceremony, there may be an additional cost. The price for steeple bells can range upwards from $100, depending on the specific church and its policies. Some more formal and traditional churches may also have dress codes that require newlyweds to buy bell coverings or caps, which can cost anywhere between $3-$100. 
  • Proper coverage: Certain denominations, such as Anglican and some Pentecostal churches, don't allow the bride or bridal party to wear gowns with bare arms, shoulders, or chests. This means you may need to buy caplets, shawls, or other coverings for the bridal party.
  • Ceremony supplies: Couples who want to incorporate specific rituals into their ceremony will spend more. Expect to spend anywhere from $30-$100 on unity candles, ceremony san, or other supplies. A chuppah or canopy starts at around $100, depending on how ornate you want it to be.

If you know you'll add any of the above to your church wedding ceremony, consider how they will impact your total wedding budget.

Church Wedding Ceremony Ideas on a Budget

Whether you're getting married in an ancient, thousand-year-old church in Rome or planning a wedding at home, saving money is always a good thing. Check out these top church wedding ceremony ideas on a budget:

Discounts for a church wedding venue

If you or your lover have ties to a specific church, check to see if you're eligible for wedding discounts. You never know until you ask! Some churches have special fees or packages for their members that will cover the venue's cost entirely.

Something borrowed

We don't always take care of our clothes like we should (raise your hand if you've ever 'overlooked' the drycleaning-only label). But if there is one item of clothing to be revered, it’s your wedding attire.

Does your mother, grandmother, aunt, or sister still have their wedding dress or veil? Can the groom borrow a nice tie from their brother or father? To reduce your church wedding ceremony cost, go big with your 'something borrowed.' Not only does this help save money and preserve a wedding tradition, but it may also help you feel closer to your family roots. 

Choose faux bridal flowers and aisle decor

Even if you don't know exactly how much flowers cost for a wedding, you probably know that they can get expensive. 

Church wedding ceremony flower prices can quickly eat up your budget. Reducing costs, versatility, and reusability are just a few reasons to use artificial flowers. Ling's premade floral arrangements save you the stress of keeping flowers alive or hiring a florist and are easy to reuse and transport. Head over to our blog, how to decorate a wedding venue on a budget, for more ideas!

A few floral centerpieces and tableware placed on a table

Repurpose from ceremony to reception

Think about how you can use decor in more than one way. Give floral arrangements from your ceremony a new life at your reception, an easy task if you're using faux flowers. For example, repurpose your bridesmaid bouquets into vases as centerpieces.

A few flower bouquets placed on pillars


One of our favorite wedding ceremony ideas on a budget is to get crafty. If you can make it yourself (or with the help of your loving friends and family), you will save money. Check out some of our easy DIY tutorials, from welcome signs to chair decor and more. 

Hitch a ride 

Who do you know with a wedding-worthy ride? Ask them to play the special role of wedding day transportation. 

Friends or family members may even have sentimental vehicles that add a personal touch. Maybe your grandparents still have the same pickup truck you remember from childhood, or your best friend might have a van filled with fond memories of road trips. Saving on your wedding transportation is an easy idea for a church wedding ceremony on a budget.

A bride sitting in a car and looking at the groom

Plan it yourself

The average price for a wedding planner sits at around $2,000. To save money on your church wedding ceremony, consider planning your big day yourself. And when we say 'yourself,' we mean with the help of your friends, family, and our exclusive wedding planning checklist. Use the checklist to make your planning process go smoothly, plus hear from real couples who planned their wedding day all on their own! 

Trim the guest list

The number of attendees at your ceremony is one of the most significant factors to consider when calculating your church wedding ceremony costs. Reducing the overall guest list allows you to make the experience more special for those who do attend.

Keep track of your guest list for free 

Hosting a wedding website or even a Facebook event can cut back on your stationery bill. You can also send electronic invitations or videos, which guests can easily save as keepsakes.

Snack on it 

Snack tables are budget-friendly and allow guests to eat at their own pace. You could also try a family-style barbeque, oversized picnic, or even a potluck to reduce food costs. If you go with a traditional wedding dinner, use a menu board instead of menu printouts to eliminate the need to purchase stationery. 

Use a playlist instead of a wedding DJ

Wedding DJs and musical entertainment can quickly rack up the bill. Since most churches have sound systems or equipment, consider creating a playlist instead of live music. If you do need to hire performers, ask your loved ones if they know any local musicians who would be more than happy to play at your ceremony for a small fee.

Send Us An Invite

So now you know the average cost of a church wedding ceremony down to the flower prices, and you even picked up some tips and budget ideas along the way. Show us your captivating church ceremony by tagging us @lingsmoment on Instagram or commenting below!

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