Couples can have a FREE church wedding under a plan that promotes ‘traditional ceremonies’ – but there’s a catch.
On Tuesday, the Synod voted on a proposal by Rev Tom Woolford, vicar of New Longton, near Preston in Lancashire, to eliminate the wedding fee.
Those getting married at a church in their home parish must pay up to £539, or £641 if they marry far away from where they live, according to Church of England fees for 2023.
In a regional trial approved by the church’s parliament as a first step, weddings will be free in a specific diocese for a period of time to see what difference it can make.
However, pilot plans, such as locations, have yet to be agreed.
Rev Woolford said: “This seems to me the right thing to do, but it’s also the right way to do it.
“This is our chance to do something that I believe can be really good for us, good for our souls.”
He added: “I’m glad the petition has been approved.
“While everyone likes the principle of having a free wedding, it’s understandable to worry about the unknown impact on the church’s finances in doing so: the amendment to allow for zone testing. area means we can allay those concerns.
“I hope and pray that the trial goes smoothly and that we can put forward a petition for the complete abolition of the wedding fee in due course.”
Critics say charging couples hundreds of pounds is the main reason for the drop in church weddings.
Rev Woolford said they added to the extraordinary cost of a wedding.
He said: “We believe marriage is a gift from God. If it is, why are we charging for it?
“We should encourage couples to get married in church because it’s good for them, good for society, good for the church and good for their children.”
According to the latest figures, there were 63,371 weddings at the Church of England in 1999, compared with 31,430 in 2019 – a 50% drop.