Something to Consider…

Wedding coordinators are a wonderful resource for brides and grooms We previously asked church leaders about the following situation:

Several brides have scheduled their weddings at your church this summer. So that everything goes smoothly, the church requires that brides utilize the services of your church’s wedding coordinator.

How should wedding coordinators be compensated?

As the officiating minister for weddings at your church, you’re probably glad to have your church’s wedding coordinator working in the background to make sure that everything runs smoothly. And just like you, he or she probably expects to be compensated for helping make the wedding couple’s day special.

Because the work involved can be irregular, the tendency is to treat wedding coordinators as independent contractors and pay them a flat fee for the services they provide. The IRS has addressed that issue by saying that if your church controls what a worker does, when they do it, provides the tools to perform their duties and they only perform those duties at your church; you must consider them as an employee and pay them accordingly through your church's payroll process. Incorrectly treating someone as a contractor makes your church liable for unpaid withholding and social security taxes plus interest and penalties.

Since they’re considered an employee, you need to pay at least the prevailing minimum wage. And since neither their weekly rate of pay nor their duties would likely qualify them as exempt under current labor laws, you also need to pay them for the time they work plus overtime when it applies. Because state labor laws and federal labor laws vary on both the issues of minimum wage and overtime, you need to make sure that you pay attention to which law holds you to a higher standard as that’s the one you need to follow.

This makes a timecard or other written time record a necessity both for their protection and your church’s. You can still pay them a salary or flat rate that exceeds the minimum standards imposed by law, but without a record of actual time worked, you have no way to prove that you met those minimum wage and/or overtime obligations.

Perhaps there are weddings where your coordinator is close to the couple and wishes to donate their time and work as a volunteer. It would be better if he or she gives the couple a nice gift instead and go ahead and be paid as usual. We understand how valuable volunteers are for churches because churches couldn’t function without them. But in order to protect workers, courts have ruled that employees cannot sign away their rights for compensation when they perform essentially the same duties as a volunteer. To allow a paid wedding coordinator to pick and choose when he or she is paid exposes your church unnecessarily. As a pastor you have a fiduciary duty to the church and this is one of those times when that duty has to take precedence over the desires of an individual.

We’ve concentrated our essay on how to properly pay wedding coordinators. However, there may be other individuals who receive compensation for helping at weddings at your church. They may include musicians, sound technicians and/or custodians. Instead of relating the particulars for each, we invite you to contact us for information on how to properly pay each of them. In the meantime, are you aware that in 2012 the IRS started a program that enables employers to voluntarily reclassify workers that they previously considered as independent ocntractors—and in a way that is legal and at a much lower cost than was previously possible? CLICK HERE to read our article about this program.

Before we close, we would like to recommend that you also have the bride pay for your services through the church and let your church’s payroll clerk keep track of your pay issues. It will make the record keeping needed for completing your tax return next year easier.

Please Note: This information is provided with the understanding that Church Administrative Professionals is not rendering professional advice or service.

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Deborah Miller, cca

Charles Kneyse

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