Do you want to start a wedding officiant business? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a wedding officiant business with no money or experience.
Quite a number of licensed clergies or ordained priests all around the world are making good bucks from officiating in wedding ceremonies and you too can key into the business if you are an ordained clergy and you have the required license.
This type of business is not capital intensive and you can start it from your savings. One good thing about wedding officiant business is that most often than not, weddings are held during weekends and if you are lucky not to be working during weekends, you can successfully test run a wedding officiant business.
As a matter of fact, you can combine your wedding officiant business with your regular clergy work or other business without overworking yourself.
Steps to Starting a Wedding Officiant Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
A wedding officiant is the person who leads the officiating ministers in a wedding ceremony. They must be legally recognized to do so by the state in which the wedding takes place. If you are having a religious ceremony, your officiant will need to be qualified in the eyes of that religious organization as well.
A wedding officiant business is a subset of the Wedding Services industry. Interestingly, the Wedding Services industry is broadly defined to include wedding day service providers, apparel retailers and venues. Wedding coordinators are also included as they carry many responsibilities on the day of the event.
A close study of happenings in the Wedding Services industry shows that the industry has experienced remarkable growth due to stronger economic conditions. It is normal that with increase in disposable income, there will be encouragement for more couples to marry, and to spend more on wedding planning or services related to their weddings.
Also, increased internet usage has made wedding officiant business more accessible to clients, decreasing the industry’s marketing costs and boosting profit margins. No doubt, as the economy continues to strengthen, the growth in the Wedding Services industry is expected to accelerate.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
Statistics has it that in the united states of America alone, there are about 377,045 registered and licensed wedding services provider companies (wedding officiant businesses inclusive) responsible for employing about 1,202,224 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $78 billion annually.
The industry is projected to grow at 0.9 percent annual growth within 2014 and 2019. It is important to state that there are no establishments in this industry that has a lion market share since it is an industry that is majorly dominated by sole operators.
A recent report published by IBISWORLD shows that the Wedding Services industry is highly fragmented and distributed proportionally with population in the United States. The report stated that evolving social norms and medical advancements which enable women to safely give birth later in life have caused the marriage rate to decline over the past several decades.
Extended periods of cohabitation before marriage and family planning has increasingly become the norm among young couples. As a result, the industry has experienced stifled growth over the five years to 2019.
Despite fewer couples getting married, increasing per capita disposable income has enabled those who do get married to spend more on their big day. Consequently, industry revenue is expected to expand an annualized 0.8 percent to $78.0 billion in the coming year.
The wedding officiant business will continue to blossom because people will always want to get married when the time comes. Despite the fact that the industry seems fast growing, there is still room big enough to accommodate aspiring entrepreneurs who intend opening their own wedding officiant business in the United States of America.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own wedding officiant services business could be that the business has pretty low entry barriers, it is a thriving business and the business is easy to set up and manage with relatively minimal startup capital and minimal manpower.
The wedding officiant business is very open to any aspiring entrepreneur who has acquired the required trainings, skills and perhaps professional certifications to start his or her own wedding officiant business and of course make good money from the industry. Just ensure that your church or facility is well located in an environment with the right demography and you will be fine.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize wedding officiant services is restricted to about to wed couples (male and female) and of course people who can recommend clients to you.
Hence, if you are thinking of opening your own wedding officiant service then you should make target demographics all encompassing. It should include everyone that has potential couples in their network or family; it should include wedding planners, and perhaps mother and fathers of adult children that are ripe for marriage.
3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
Wedding officiant services business is a niche idea in the wedding services industry but it is also common to find wedding officiant business owners engage in order related services such as wedding planning services and funeral officiating services et al
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competitions that exist in the wedding officiant business goes beyond your location; you are expected to compete with churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious centers that also carry out wedding officiant services. Thus, it will be right to say the competition in the wedding officiant services business is tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are good at carrying out wedding services, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
There are several wedding officiant services businesses, complimentary services businesses such churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious centers that also carryout wedding services scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own wedding officiant services business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competition in the industry.
4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and general public than others. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses, how they treat their customers and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading wedding officiants/brands in the United States of America and in the globe;
- A Seattle Wedding
- Forever, Together
- Eric Warn
- Ray Van Winkle & Associates
- Reverend Patrick Callahan
- Seattle Wedding Pastor
- The Wedding Gentleman
- Window to the Soul Ministry
- Honeybreak Officiants NYC
- Wedding Officiant Jon
- Albertson Wedding Chapel
- Great Officiants – Fun and Romantic Ceremonies
- Belles Wedding Chapel
- Julia Garcia Wedding Officiant
- Jacob Marries
If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
Wedding officiant services business is not a Green business. As a matter of fact; you will come across several of such businesses when you drive through town.
So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent a space where you are expected to open your wedding officiant service, the amount required to purchase all the supplies needed for the business and also the cost to successfully run the business.
If you are considering starting a wedding officiant services business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a chapel or event center and equipping the facility, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base and business network. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base and business network, you are sure going to maximize profits in your wedding officiant services business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
The truth is that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. You should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement.
But, if you are looking towards starting a wedding officiant business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly find any wedding officiant services business that is into franchising. The business has pretty low entry barriers hence, it is open to all those that are licensed and qualified, especially clergies.
Besides starting a wedding officiant services business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses that usually require detailed groundwork before launching the business.
With wedding officiant services business, you should just try as much as possible to get the right employees, the required license and permits, build business relationship and network with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your services.
Please note that most of the wedding officiant firms around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own wedding officiant services business brand to become a successful brand.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own wedding officiant services business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face will be the presence of well – established wedding officiant service firms and any other religious centers that also carryout wedding services for a fee.
The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market. Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face are economic downturn and unfavorable government policies.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting a wedding officiant services business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow. Generally, you can choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or even a sole proprietorship for your wedding officiant services business.
Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale wedding officiant business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood and if you choose to operate as a freelancer.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of studios across the United States of America via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your wedding officiant services business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your wedding officiant services business, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your wedding officiant services business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own wedding officiant services business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Samuel & Sarah® Wedding Officiant Services, LLC
- Wedding Agenda™ Wedding officiant Services, LLC
- Prince Wellington® Wedding officiant Services, Inc.
- Wedding Delight™ Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
- Tony Martins™ Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
- The Clergy Connect™ Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
- Jake Clackson© Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
- Angel’s Guide® Wedding Officiant Services, LLC
- Rev Chris Henshaw™ Mobile Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
- Joel Stephenson© Wedding Officiant Services, Inc.
9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your wedding officiant business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own wedding officiant services business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health / Medical insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own wedding officiant services business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from being a clergy, in most states in the US, it is mandatory to obtain a wedding officiant license. The truth is that if you want to make an impact in the industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications and permits.
Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in the market. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own wedding officiant service;
- Wedding Officiant Certification
- Ordination Certificate
- Degree, Certificate or Diploma in Theology
- Makeup Artist Certification
Please note that you can successfully run a wedding officiant services on a small scale in some countries of the world without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license as long as you a qualified clergy and have adequate experience cum background in the business.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your wedding officiant service in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Marriage Licenses & Certificates
- Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
- Health inspection Certificate
- Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Building License
- Franchise or Trademark License (optional)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a wedding officiant services business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running a mobile wedding officiant services business. Securing a standard and well – positioned chapel or hall – facility and purchasing supplies needed for the business are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your wedding officiant business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your wedding officiant services business, the rule of thumb is that, you should be guided by the demand for wedding officiant services. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your chapel or hall, it will give people easy access to locate your facility or office.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your wedding officiant services business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consist of people with the require purchasing power and are willing to get married.
If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your wedding officiant services business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential customers.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your wedding officiant services business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
Which is why it being very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set – up your own wedding officiant services business. These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your wedding officiant services business;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for wedding officiant services in the location
- The purchasing power and willingness of adults to get married in the residence of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of wedding officiant services business and any other religious organizations that also carryout wedding officiant services in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community/state
- Traffic, parking and security et al
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
There are no special technologies or equipment needed to run this type of business. But you will need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and studio furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves), robes amongst others.
As regard leasing or outright purchase of a chapel or hall – facility to use as your operational base, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location.
If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard wedding officiant services business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Wedding Officiating Minister/Clergy (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Hall and Event Manager, Ushers, Accounting Clerk, and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 3 to 7 key staff members to run this business.
The Services Delivery Process of the Business
The business process as it relates to wedding officiant services business is to a large extent depended on individual minister/clergy. On the average, most wedding officiating ministers work from home and operate a one man show. They go to wedding venues with their wedding kits and catalogues. Once they secure any business deals, they charge per hour and their charges ranges from $50 – $100 per hour.
A standard wedding officiant business usually owns a chapel or hall and have numerous licensed ministers/clergies under their network. They bid for wedding contracts from wedding planners. Once they secure the contract, they deploy their ministers/clergies and other workers to the venue to conduct the wedding.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your services. If you choose to launch a wedding officiant business, then you must employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determine the market direction for this business.
People will hire your services if they know that you are going to add beauty to their wedding and they are going to get value for their money.
As a matter of fact, your marketing strategy will center on creativity, reliability, swiftness, safety, pricing, thoroughness, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers hire your services, they will get excellent service.
Businesses these days are aware of the power of the internet and which is why they will do all they can to maximize the internet (Instagram, videos / YouTube) to market their services. These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your wedding officiant services business;
- Introduce your wedding officiant services business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to wedding planners, and other key stake holders throughout the city where your wedding officiant services studio is located.
- Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram to get your message across
- Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, schools, sport facilities, libraries, public facilities and train stations et al.
- Making your first impression count positively to those that patronize your services for the first time
- Make use of attractive hand bills to create awareness and also to give direction to your chapel or office facility
- Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
- Directly market your products.
- Advertise your business in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.
18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The availability of a wide range of choices as it relates to wedding services and effective skill sets by your wedding ministers/clergies, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base and business network. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and the way you officiate weddings can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.
19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers or products.
Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service providers is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service.
Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to get referrals from them and of course continue to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new services and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk SMS and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive feedback from them).
20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness.
If your intention of starting a wedding officiant services business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand and selling franchise, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is a dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your wedding officiant services business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and lifestyle and wedding related magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events / programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your wedding officiant services business
- Install your Bill Boards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your wedding officiant services business in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your wedding officiant services business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your wedding officiant services studio is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are well branded with your company logo et al.