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Neela Kale Answers:
Fees for a wedding ceremony go directly to the parish and are generally applied to administrative expenses: church upkeep and utilities, staff time and paperwork. The pastor receives a salary from the parish; weddings and other celebrations are part of his job and he isn’t paid according to how many he does. But, as you well know, a lot of time and energy goes into preparing a couple for marriage and into preparing for the wedding liturgy itself. Also, as you can probably imagine, the pastor isn’t paid very much – no one enters the ministry seeking to get rich! Thus it is gracious of you to offer a small sum to the priest who witnesses your marriage, as a way to thank him for his effort in helping you to prepare. The most important thing that will happen on your wedding day is the rite of marriage itself; it is more important than the dress, the flowers, the reception or anything else that you have in your wedding budget. Setting aside something for the person who makes it happen is a good way to remind yourself to focus on what is really important.