From Funerals to Weddings: Eric Hunt on Changing Careers

Eric Hunt started his career as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Business was steady, and he had no complaints. But after being asked to do a favor for a pair of engaged friends — followed by similar requests from others — he switched fields. He still works with people, but now he makes a living by marrying them instead of burying them. He officiates weddings in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Hunt recently talked with GoPayment about his career change, his busiest season for weddings, and the weirdest wedding he’s ever attended.

GoPayment: How did you make this career change?

Hunt: I am a licensed funeral director and embalmer, and I managed a funeral home in Virginia for several years. One night I was out for dinner with friends who were going to get married. She had been married before, and, for that reason, the minister would not marry her. I joked, “Well, I bury people, so I guess I can marry you.” The guy called me later and asked if I was serious, so I went to the court to get registered as a wedding officiant. More people found out about that and called me to do their weddings. I liked my new role, and I started doing it even more when I moved to South Carolina.

What’s involved in being a wedding officiant?

I perform wedding ceremonies, vow renewals, and sand ceremonies, and I’m commissioned to do them in South Carolina and Virginia. I live in Myrtle Beach, which is a popular place to do these. Most people find me online, so that’s where I get 99 percent of my business. I work with couples on customizing their special day. I have a library of ceremonies to share, so we talk about the type of ceremony they’re looking for, and I ask questions like will there be a guest list or just the two of them, will it be a civil or religious ceremony, etc. Then we prepare the text of the vows, run through the ceremony process, and get the final details set.

When is your busiest time?

Summer is the peak time. This weekend, I have four weddings alone. It stays busy through mid-August, then starts up again in the fall, through November. The slowest time is winter, from mid-November through January. It picks up again on Valentine’s Day.

The most unusual wedding I’ve done was on Halloween. The couple had a hard time getting someone to perform it on that night, but I said, “Why not?” They wanted to have people come to their home for a Halloween costume party and surprise them with the wedding ceremony. The wife dressed as the Corpse Bride and the husband as the Grim Reaper. I joked that I could drive her to the wedding in my hearse, and they liked that idea. So, I drove her to the ceremony!

Why did you decide to use GoPayment, and how do you use it?

If you don’t accept credit cards, you lose business. I was looking for a payment option that provided flexibility. My business is seasonal, so I didn’t want to have to pay the monthly fees and minimums year-round that most credit card services charge. Intuit’s package was everything I needed. I can accept it with my iPhone on location or take the card number over the phone from home. It goes with me wherever I go. And I’m not charged during the slow months, just during the busy season.

The small businesses in the town where I live don’t accept credit cards because they’re scared of the fees and horror stories about being nickel-and-dimed. But you have to give customers that option; it may be bad timing or a slow month for them to pay in cash. Although they may like your services, they’ll go to a store offering the payment terms they’re looking for.

About Vanessa Richardson

Vanessa Richardson is a freelance writer (and therefore a small-biz owner herself) in San Francisco who covers business and financial topics.
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