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Wedding And Funeral Fees?


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... I always dealt with the couple direct and made them physically fill in a form detailing all their requirements, I found this very useful to avoid any potential misunderstandings. I learnt this the hard way when one couple complained about my choice of tune for a hymn. ...

 

This is sensible, except that I go one stage further - and fill in the form myself. This also reduces the likelihood of mis-spellings of composers' names, or the titles of pieces on the printed order of service.

 

Playing the wrong tune is occasionally still a source of unease, particularly if I am playing for a wedding where the interview was conducted by my boss. I have yet to arrive at the church to discover that I am supposed to play the bridal party out to the Duruflé Toccata, but there have been some 'exciting' occasions.

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I only play for weddings on a freelance basis now, and feel free therefore to set my own fee - which is to some extent set to discourage, since I don't find them particularly enjoyable ways to spend my time.

 

So, I would charge £125 basic, and another £100 if there is any kind of soloist who needs accompanying, and with double the total for any kind of recording - and, if the place is a long way away I would charge somethign for travelling.

 

Funerals, seemingly, I usually play (again freelance) and charge nothing - since they are usually for relatives of friends.

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You're going to think I'm moaning when I say that round here (East Yorkshire) I am lucky to get more than £40 for a funeral or £50 for a wedding.

To be honest, I don't think this is way adrift. If I don't want to play or they're offering far too little, I pass the opportunity on to someone else. If I do agree to play, let's face it, there's not much trouble to an average funeral. If they want special music and I don't have it, I just suggest that they have a choice of supplying me with the sheet music themselves or playing a CD.

 

Playing a CD? I can imagine some of you taking sharp intakes of breath.

Well, why not? The version on CD will be guaranteed to be the version they're used to, it doesn't lessen my fee, just lessens the work.

 

I realise that I have been trained at some length and at some expense. I realise that I have to spend money on music from time to time and cover my transport costs, but...fair play, chaps and chappesses, isn't even £40 for less than an hour's work pretty good? I realise it could be more, but it's better than sitting at home and I can do quite a bit with £40 if it comes as a bonus. When declaring it for tax purposes, I always make a point of taking off my 40p per mile allowance, that trims it a bit.

 

As for weddings, the only ones I resent are the ones where 'the darling bride' starts being demanding and awkward. I vividly remember the last sweetie I had of this kind. She wanted Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor to come in to - all 7 minutes of it. I kept attempting to convince her of its unsuitability, or offering to play it before the service instead.... that it was in a minor key, common to several horror film soundtracks, left the bridal party standing still with nothing to do for a long period - all she could do was keep saying, 'it's my wedding and I'll have it if I want it'. In the end, I told her that I would arrange for someone else to play. By the time I'd spoken to her for nearly twenty minutes, losing the will to live and seriously worried for the future sanity of the groom, I wouldn't have played for that wedding if you'd offered me triple the fee.

 

Shh, and let's hope no punters are reading these lines:

Frankly, if you don't think you're paid enough for your labours, why not pass the gig onto someone with more time? Now, if you find that nobody in your area will cover for you at that rate, passing this information on to your clergy-person or warden may count for a heck of a lot more than your present moans.

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I cannot see anyone at my church paying the fees mentioned in the above, I get 55 a funeral and 55 a wedding doubling if theres a video. When I cover the local crem the going rate is 12.50 per service regardless of whats involved, I am sure many crem organists are getting far less, would any of them like to post the rates on here, I know the organist of a Birmingham Crem contributes to this board.

I have not had a salary increase in over 8 years, the excuse being they cant meet the quota, I have now been asked to reduce tunings from 4 to 3 a year and can the organ blower and humidifier be serviced every 2 years, I have said no as a well known member of this board gives recitals at the church once a month and the collection goes towards looking after the organ. When I questioned the treasurer I was told Oh well it goes into central funds!!!!!

How many others have finance problems with their respective churches?

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I cannot see anyone at my church paying the fees mentioned in the above, I get 55 a funeral and 55 a wedding doubling if theres a video. When I cover the local crem the going rate is 12.50 per service regardless of whats involved, I am sure many crem organists are getting far less, would any of them like to post the rates on here, I know the organist of a Birmingham Crem contributes to this board.

I have not had a salary increase in over 8 years, the excuse being they cant meet the quota, I have now been asked to reduce tunings from 4 to 3 a year and can the organ blower and humidifier be serviced every 2 years, I have said no as a well known member of this board gives recitals at the church once a month and the collection goes towards looking after the organ. When I questioned the treasurer I was told Oh well it goes into central funds!!!!!

How many others have finance problems with their respective churches?

 

Rant alert!

 

In Wales, as in England, the parish share has first call on parish finances. Last year I (single-handedly) persuaded the PCC to pay something resembling RSCM rates as previously what they had paid did not even cover the organist's fuel costs to get to services! I have had to hide the costs of getting the organ up to recital standard in an obscure account as the recitals themselves return bugger all to parish funds (even though they are excellent and well supported). Given that the organ is falling apart around itself and stays stable for a couple of weeks if we are lucky, it is an art in itself to make sure that both instrument and player are properly looked after.

 

Sorry basdav (and others) - there is another side to this question. We can either struggle together and grow, or we can look after ourselves and die. Then there will be few organs and fewer organists. I believe that (despite severe problems along the way) we are winning the battle. If so, it is because we are all pulling together.

 

If your recital collection is enough to keep the organ tuning &c going, you are fortunate. If you rely on the salary for your living, the parish should have a mind to that - 8 years without an increase means different things to different people - especially since you have not said how much the salary is!

 

Rant over!

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Can't remember the last time I actually charged for a wedding, but then I play mostly for friends and invariably get an invite to the reception, which probably would have cost the happy couple in the region of £100 per person. The joke is that I only ever seem to get asked for the Widor, and thus get challenged to play it even faster than at the previous wedding...

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How many others have finance problems with their respective churches?

I may have mentioned this before. Apologies if I have bored anybody with this previously.

 

When I took on one of my present jobs, I gave weekly lunchtime organ recitals at the church, carrying on a tradition I had maintained in a certain city church, and which was good for my practising!

 

The agreement was that we would establish an organ fund (the organ was rebuilt a few months after I took on the post) for future maintenance and repairs. I raised quite a lot of money for it with the organ recitals. Imagine my dismay to discover - several years ago - that there was very little money left in the organ fund as, with a change of Treasurer, it had been decided to pay my "salary" out of the organ fund.

 

So, several years of giving organ recitals to raise money for the church had merely meant that the church had me for free for several years. Without knowing it, I was raising the money to pay my salary. :lol:

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[[Deletion because of trolls.]]

 

Hear, hear!

 

I was once told that I should accept a vastly reduced fee, on a permanent basis, for these things because the church wasn't getting enough weddings. (Of course, that was when I still accepted church posts! Don't mind playing for services now, but only do it on a freelance basis as said.)

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These stories are all too distressing, and all too familiar! Robert Leach and Barry Williams both have excellent things to say in their book - in particular, they point out (quite rightly) that an organist can decline to play something if it is beyond his/her ability, or would have to devote huge amounts of practice time to it at the expense of whatever else might need preparing for Sunday services.

 

It's also worth noting what Robert and Barry say about appointed organists - specifically, that no-one has the right to tell you that you cannot play for a service - and about playing CDs as part of weddings - "if you're going to do that, why not suggest having photos instead of flowers, or playing a video in an empty church rather than having a service at all?" - or words to that effect.

 

Just to add my own 2p worth to the opening discussion: I was on about £120 for weddings and £80 for funerals in my previous appointment; now I'm on £65 for either type of service, doubled if a video is taken. I actually don't mind this so much: it makes calculating invoices a lot easier if you're only working with one figure... Obviously I'll set my own rates if I'm playing elsewhere, not including weddings / funerals for family & friends for which I will not charge.

 

One thing I do find intriguing is that some churches intend their organists to be self-employed when it comes to special service fees, even though he/she is an employee in all other respects. A close friend of mine reported just that experience in his last job, i.e. he was taxed at source for his regular income from the Church, but had to pay his own tax for weddings and funerals. I've not had that experience myself, although my present Vicar and PCC allowed me to choose between having extra fees added to my gross pay for tax to be deducted from the whole, or having them paid separately by cheque for me to declare myself. (I chose the former option, as I'm used to having it that way...)

 

I suspect that in light of the recent court case, such a situation would appear ludicrous - to be honest, I think it does anyway! Nevertheless it would be interested to know what other people have experienced in this regard.

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I know of one full time organist whose wedding fees are paid into church coffers on the grounds that he is paid for doing a full time job and it is up to his employer what they ask him to do and what they charge other for his services.

I realise that the above was written a while ago, but given recent discussion I felt the urge to crawl out of the woodwork...

 

My church employs me on a part time basis (nominally 3/4 time). This includes fees for weddings and funerals (but not for any other "extras" as might arise - but there are very few of these). There is a budget to provide for a deputy in the event that I am on holiday or other booked leave.

 

I was given the choice of salary+fees or a larger salary when I was offered the post. I have the option to change this arrangement annually.

 

I have worked out that I am generally better off with this arrangement; the church/clergy are also happy that they are deally with the same person on a regular basis (especially thinking about funerals midweek).

 

It makes "fees meetings" remarkably easy - the church treasurer is keep to recoup some of his "investment"!

 

This arrangement has much to commend it - we all know where we stand.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Whilst not directly 'on theme', I remember playing for a funeral at my regular church a few years ago where the family objected to paying my usual fee. They felt it was most unfeeling & wrong for me to charge for my services, so much so that they wrote to the local Bishop! He was highly amused as the church in question is URC! I would also add that the family concerned were unknown to the minister & congregation!

I eventually got my fee!

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Whilst not directly 'on theme', I remember playing for a funeral at my regular church a few years ago where the family objected to paying my usual fee. They felt it was most unfeeling & wrong for me to charge for my services, so much so that they wrote to the local Bishop! He was highly amused as the church in question is URC! I would also add that the family concerned were unknown to the minister & congregation!

I eventually got my fee!

I wonder if they thought that the funeral directors shouldn't be paid either.... :)

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Guest Patrick Coleman

I always make a point of asking undertakers from time to time whether there has been any query regarding fees (vicar, organist, church, verger). I invariably get the response that these fees are never questioned.

 

It may be a local thing, but I know that with no exceptions so far the work of our organists at funerals and weddings has been much appreciated.

 

Good PR?

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Living within ten minutes walking distance of two crematoria (one owned by a well known company and the other owned by the City Council) I am increasingly getting income from funerals, sometimes at a couple of hours warning or less. The Council owned crematorium has a team 5 or 6 of us who are happy to play for them because, although the pay is not marvellous, the work is regular and the staff are exceptionally nice, helpful and friendly. The privately owned one cannot get organists to work for them direct. Whilst the council owned crematorium is good regular work you get paid better doing funerals in local churches and, if you are approached direct by a FD for crematorium work you can charge what you like.

 

I advertise in the diocesan monthly and quarterly publications; all the local independent FDs know that they can contact me, and this brings in extra work.

 

In a way it is easy money but I find it pastorally very fulfilling. Indeed, my confessor, and others, are encouraging me to take a course in bereavement couselling. You go in, do what is asked of you, are greatly appreciated at a difficult time in people's lives (they even say so) and come away again. Not a PCC, Standing Committee, Synod or Worship Committee anywhere in sight.

 

For the record, I get £25 per service from the Council (often for just one hymn) and the highest private fee I have had was £75.

 

Malcolm

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Patrick Coleman
It appears that this topic and one posting in particular (not mine) has recently attracted some adverse publicity in the pages of Church Times.

 

Malcolm

 

Do tell!

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Guest Patrick Coleman

As I don't subscribe to the Church Times, several people have now been kind enough to PM me and satisfy my curiosity as to what the issue is, and which of our friends on this board has been subject to criticism.

 

For what it's worth, I don't share our friend's view as it was expressed in this forum, but I do find it deeply reprehensible that his opportunity to 'sound off' among colleagues has been used by an anonymous contributor to a national print publication as a stick to beat him with, and as an instigation to several appallingly opinionated replies.

 

If you are reading this, please note that my views are addressed to the members of this forum only, and if you are intruding on a private conversation you only have yourself to blame if you hear something that might cause you offence.

 

Yet another reason not to subscribe to the Church Times, I think! :D

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If you are reading this, please note that my views are addressed to the members of this forum only, and if you are intruding on a private conversation you only have yourself to blame if you hear something that might cause you offence.

I have no axe to grind on this issue, but with respect, writing anything on an internet message board or community area is the same as publishing it in a newspaper or magazine. If, heaven forbid, anything defamatory were written, than both Mander Organs and the author of the comment could find themselves involved in a court case if a formal complaint were made.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I have no axe to grind on this issue, but with respect, writing anything on an internet message board or community area is the same as publishing it in a newspaper or magazine. If, heaven forbid, anything defamatory were written, than both Mander Organs and the author of the comment could find themselves involved in a court case if a formal complaint were made.

 

I hadn't noticed that we were discussing defamation?

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