How a $50 Certification Lets Her Make $1,000+ a Month Officiating LGBTQ Weddings

an image to accompany a story about side hustles. Courtesy of Samantha Hernandez
Samantha Hernandez became a certified officiant, then introduced herself to local wedding planning companies. She makes $100 per ceremony, plus fees for additional duties, and is given scripts to work from for the ceremonies she officiates.
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Imagine you could get paid to go to your best friends’ weddings. Hear me out.

When thinking of side hustle ideas, a wedding officiant might be the last thing that comes to mind. However, if you love romance and being around groups of people, it might be the perfect gig for you. And if you’re queer like me, officiating LGBTQ weddings sounds like a dream come true.

“I honestly stumbled upon officiating”, says Samantha Hernandez, a lesbian money coach who runs the Money Institute, a consulting company. Hernandez makes up to $1,125 of supplemental income a month from officiating in Savannah, Georgia, a weddings hot spot described by some locals as “the Vegas of the south.”

More Americans are taking on an additional job or side hustle in order to make ends meet. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report found that 165,000 additional Americans took on multiple jobs in November, the highest jump since June, and an indicator that more people are trying to get ahead of record-high inflation.

Becoming a certified wedding officiant is easier than you might think, and if you position yourself well with local businesses, they’ll often do the selling for you. Here’s what to know about this niche side hustle.

How to Get Started as a Wedding Officiant

Samantha Hernandez says she “stumbled into officiating” as a side hustle, but loves getting to be a part of couples’ special day. (Courtesy of Samantha Hernandez)

Weddings are a $57.9 billion dollar industry, and there are over 336,000 wedding services industry businesses in the United States as of 2022, according to Zippia, a career resources website based in San Francisco. 

Wedding officiants find work by either working for or partnering with those wedding service industry businesses. Hernandez explains that she originally stumbled upon the opportunity in a local Facebook group to work as an officiant with a local wedding service company. She was looking for an additional income stream at the time.

“I had to get ordained as a reverend through Universal Life Church Ministries,” she says. “It took two minutes. I did have to pay around $50 to get a physical copy of the certificate of marriage and clergy badge, because the company I work with requires a copy of the certificate.” 

Hernandez recommends reaching out to local wedding service companies after getting ordained to make them aware of your services. Start by searching on Google for local wedding service companies in your area. Find their contact information and social media on their website, and send them a message. Keep an eye out on their social media and website, too; they might post announcements that they’re hiring local wedding officiants.

Why She Became an LGBTQ Wedding Officiant

LGBTQ-friendly vendors are an underserved niche in the wedding industry. The right to same-sex marriage was established in 2015 by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, but fears of discrimination persist. The court is currently hearing arguments for a case that challenges LGBTQ couples’ equal access to service-based businesses. This comes shortly after the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for reconsideration of Obergefell v. Hodges and the right to same-sex marriage earlier this year.

Some LGBTQ couples specifically request LGBTQ or LGBTQ-friendly service providers in their wedding planning process.

“The company that I work with does a lot of LGBTQ weddings,” says Hernandez. “I believe that it’s important for LGBTQ couples to feel welcomed and loved by all parties on their wedding day. This is why I love being there to show my support for their marriage.”

If you are also LGBTQ and looking to officiate LGBTQ weddings for others, look to partner with LGBTQ inclusive wedding service companies to ensure you work with your ideal clients.

Let the Service Company Do the Marketing For You

Hernandez says the local wedding service company that she works with takes care of marketing and finds clients for her.

“Once they have clients who are interested, they send out a message to all of the wedding officiants, and you can “thumbs up” the message if you are available,” she says. “The company provides scripts for every ceremony, and coordinates date, time, and location. All I have to do is show up.”

Hernandez earns $100 per wedding ceremony she performs. Each ceremony takes up to 20 minutes to perform, including signing the marriage license. Other services she gets paid for are:

  • Simple marriage license signing stand-alone service: $75 on weekdays, and $100 on weekends.
  • Rehearsal attendance: $50.
  • A travel fee: $25-50. Hernandez charges this fee when driving to locations that are over 25 minutes outside of Savannah.

“The most I’ve made in an hour was $150 because I did 2 signing services ($75 each),” she says. “The most I’ve made in a single day was on Halloween, when I made $275. I can take as many or as few weddings as I want; I love the flexibility of officiating.” Hernandez began officiating weddings in September of 2022, and brought in $1,125 in October 2022.

Is Officiating Weddings Worth It?

Hernandez loves officiating, but clarified that if someone wants to get started with this side hustle, they need to be good with people. “You also need to be comfortable reading in front of a crowd,” she says. “I am dyslexic, and was worried about the reading aspect.” She uses an app called Bionic Reading, which makes it easier to read the scripts from her smartphone.

Hernandez also lives in a wedding hot-spot. Your area may not be as busy with weddings year-round. Don’t let that stop you from searching online to see if any wedding service companies are currently looking for officiants in your area.

If this is truly a side hustle you think you’d like to try, give it a go! Doing something you love that makes extra money can help you get on track toward achieving financial independence.