How Much Do You Pay a Preacher or Pastor for a Funeral?

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, funerals with burial cost approximately $7,800, and funerals with cremation cost roughly $7,000. There are many small costs to factor in when planning for and paying for a funeral. For example, did you know that giving the preacher or pastor a monetary gift for the funeral service is customary?

You should pay a pastor or preacher a $100 to $300 honorarium for a funeral. Although it is not required to pay a preacher or pastor for a funeral, it is customary to give an honorarium for their time and efforts towards the service.

In this article, I will tell you more about paying a preacher or pastor for the funeral, their role in the service, and other costs that you will need to consider when paying for a funeral. I’ll also give some tips to help lower the costs, so be sure to read until the end!

Why Should You Pay a Preacher or Pastor for a Funeral?

In general, families are usually not charged a fee for the preacher or pastor. However, giving the preacher or pastor an honorarium (like a donation) for their services is typical. Though the honorarium is not required or expected, it is greatly appreciated and is customary.

The amount of the honorarium differs by religion and family income. However, a typical honorarium is between $100 and $300.

You should pay a pastor or preacher for a funeral because the church does not typically pay them to perform the service. Therefore, the honorarium is a way to thank them for their time and efforts towards the service.

If you cannot accommodate the honorarium due to financial circumstances, it is polite to let the church know ahead of time. In such cases, it is common for other church members or the church itself to step in and help cover these costs.

Religion, death and dolor - woman at urn funeral mourning the death of a loved person

What Does a Preacher or Pastor Do at a Funeral?

So, what exactly is the role of a preacher or a pastor in a funeral service? There are many moving parts in funeral services, so it can be confusing to understand precisely what role each member of the church is performing.

The preacher or pastor will lead the funeral service at a funeral, deliver prayers for the deceased, and attend all funerary events to support and counsel the grieving friends and family. 

The pastor or preacher in a congregation is a spiritual leader. Because of their position, their role is to help the loved ones of the deceased grieve and support them in their spiritual journey.

The preacher or pastor will often help the family write and present a eulogy for their loved one. They may also be the ones to perform the ceremony in certain religions.

Another essential role of the pastor or preacher is to pray with the funeral attendees. You will often find them mingling with guests, praying with those grieving, and helping the loved ones mourn the deceased.

The presence of a preacher or pastor is comforting, especially to those having a hard time with the loss. Having this figure in attendance can also lift some of the social burdens from the family and is therefore common practice at American funerals.

How Do You Pay a Pastor or Preacher for a Funeral?

To pay a pastor or preacher for a funeral, you should seal the honorarium in an envelope and give it to them before they leave the service. If the service is at a funeral home, the funeral director may provide the pastor or preacher with the money after the service. 

Generally, it is best to offer the pastor or preacher cash to ensure that they can accept it.

Still, if you are in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your funeral director or other church officials about how to best offer the honorarium. 

Other People You Need To Pay for a Funeral Service

In addition to the pastor or preacher, other people help run the funeral service and who the family will need to pay. Each of these individuals plays an essential role in the service and is commonly part of America’s funeral service staff.


Music is a detail that is an essential detail that many people often overlook at funeral services. While attendees are mingling and paying their respects, it is customary to play music. Hiring an organist for the service can cost the family up to $250. The church may also allow you to hire external singers and musicians for a lesser rate, typically $150 per person.

Funeral Home Attendees

If you have an open casket funeral, you will also have to pay for the funeral home to dress and prepare the deceased’s body. Open casket funerals are popular in the United States, and it is customary for the funeral home to make the body as life-like as possible.

The funeral home will wash and groom the body to prepare your loved one for an open casket service. This process includes dressing them in the family’s chosen attire and doing the deceased’s hair and make-up. Preparing the body will also have some embalming services to keep the body as fresh as possible through the service.

These fees will vary by the funeral home and will significantly depend on the services requested and the state of the body.

Miscellaneous Staff

Depending on the type of service you are having, there may be some other people involved that you would need to pay. 

For example, if you are having a catered luncheon or reception after the service, you will need to pay the catering staff for that expense. Additional clergy persons may also be involved in the ceremony, and they will receive an honorarium like the preacher or pastor.

Other Funeral Fees

In addition to the preacher or pastor honorarium, it is essential to consider the other fees that a funeral service will incur. These costs can quickly add up, so thinking about them ahead of time can help ease the financial burden and reduce the stress of decision-making when it is time to prepare for the service.

Obituary Fees

One cost you will encounter is the obituary fee. The obituary is a short blurb or article about the deceased’s life. They typically give a little background on hobbies, family, friends, and things they enjoyed. This obituary will also name close family members so the community can support those individuals.

In addition to these personal details, the obituary will also give information on the funeral service. Therefore, it is crucial to plan the service date, time, and location before publishing the obituary. 

The funeral information will also note how to support the family. For example, it will say where to send flowers or what the family would like instead of flowers.

Obituaries are often published in many places online and in print. Some areas you may find an obituary include:

  • Church newsletter: If the deceased were active in their church, the obituary would likely be published in the church newsletter or on their church website. If you have the funeral service at this same church, this is a great way to advertise the date and time for other congregation members to attend.
  • Local newspapers: Obituaries are also commonly printed in local newspapers or covered in other ways throughout the community. This way, members of the community who aren’t necessarily part of the church will receive the information and support the family.
  • Alumni websites and newsletters: Most universities have an In Memoriam page on their website or a section in their alumni newsletters dedicated to obituaries. Sharing the information here helps spread the word to former classmates and old friends.
  • Funeral home website: If the service is held at a funeral home, it will likely be posted on the funeral home’s website. There will usually be a list of services and pre-selected flower arrangements that guests can send to the family on the website.

Because the obituary will be online for anyone to find, it is essential to put thought and effort into this article.

Floral Fees

Another cost you will incur is for the flowers at the service. While it is common for people to send flowers to the funeral home, it is also customary for the church to put out flowers for the service. The church or funeral home will work with the family to provide the best arrangements for the family.

The cost of floral arrangements will vary. Families can expect to pay $50 to $700 on flowers. Still, this cost will depend on how many arrangements are needed and what flowers you choose.

If purchasing flowers for the funeral is not of interest, services allow you to rent flowers. Websites like Sympathy Flower Rentals will enable you to rent faux floral arrangements made from silk flowers for a lower rate than purchasing real flowers.

Printed Order of Service

In American funerals, it is customary to have a printed order of service. This printed order is typically a brochure handed out to the funeral attendees and a larger poster-sized tri-fold display during the service.

This printed order will typically include a picture of the lost loved one and a prayer chosen by the family. It may also have a poem or other text significant to the deceased or the family.

The cost of this will depend on the number of printed brochures and tri-folds displayed. While some churches do not charge for the printed booklet, it is common to charge up to $100 for the printed poster-sized tri-fold on display.

Casket or Coffin

One of the highest costs the family will have to consider is the casket or coffin for the deceased. 

Many families choose to have an open-casket funeral for their loved one and then have them buried. In this instance, the family will likely spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a casket.

Caskets in America are often designed for viewings and are large and ornate. 

It is common to have a decorative casket with different designs on the outside and a plush inside. However, these other customizations come at a price, making the casket one of the most expensive components of a traditional funeral service.


Another option is to have the body cremated. Cremation is becoming more popular in America as people are becoming less religious and as funeral costs are rising. In general, cremations typically cost less than traditional burials.

According to a study conducted by eFuneral, the average price of cremation in the U.S. is roughly $3,700. 

However, some places will offer the service for as low as $1,500 to $2,000. Because of this wide range of prices, comparing prices across different locations is essential.

Save Money on a Funeral by Buying the Casket Online

Cutting Costs at a Funeral

Because funerals are so expensive, it is essential to save money where you can. While it would not be a good idea to skip the honorarium for the preacher, pastor, or other clergy persons, there are some things you can do to help cut costs at a funeral:

Skip the Graveside Service

While most families prefer traditional viewing or wake for their loved ones, the graveside service isn’t necessary. Families will need to pay extra for the equipment and staff at a graveside service, so skipping this will save some money.

Have an Eco-Friendly Burial

Did you know that the embalming process and products used in traditional embalming and burial can harm the environment? That’s why many people are transitioning to eco-friendly burials.

Here’s a sample video of an eco-friendly burial to consider:

You can also watch this video to save money in the process:

Rent Reusable Flowers

Opting to use reusable flowers instead of authentic flower arrangements is an excellent way to cut costs at a funeral. Doing so can save you upwards of hundreds of dollars, depending on the arrangement sizes you need.

Have a Home Funeral

It is common for a church or funeral home to host funerals or memorial services. However, as funeral prices increase, more people look to have funerals at home. In these instances, families save the cost of renting out the space for the service and paying the funeral staff.

Bring Your Own Music

It is comforting to funeral attendees to have music playing during the service, but it doesn’t have to be live. Save your money by not hiring an organist or live musician and bringing your own music that was important to the deceased instead.

In addition, if you have any musically talented friends or family, you can ask them to perform for little to no cost. 

Final Thoughts

It is not required to pay a preacher or a pastor for a funeral, but it is recommended and customary to give them an honorarium for their time. Honorariums for preachers and pastors vary based on the family’s income level and religion, but an average honorarium is between $100 and $300.

In addition to this honorarium, it is essential to keep in mind and plan for the other costs that a funeral service will incur.


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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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