Church of England wedding price rise rejected

Wedding couple A church wedding could have cost £425 if the plans had not been rejected

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Plans to increase the price of weddings and funerals by 50% have been rejected by the Church of England.

A standard national fee of £425 for a wedding and £150 for a funeral would have been imposed, with parishes banned from charging extra for services such as heating, vergers and administration.

The Church's law-making body, the General Synod, felt a price rise would discourage couples marrying in church.

The number of couples marrying has declined by about a third in 30 years.

The Church of England had said the wedding price rise would have been justified and said couples in some parishes could pay less under the plan.

That was because many parishes have added "hidden extras" to the bill, charging extra for heating and lighting, or vergers.

Some bills have included such items as building and churchyard costs.

'Huge dismay'

With weddings, the Church's own share of the market has diminished quickly in the face of competition from alternative venues such as stately homes and hotels.

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, who backed the proposed charges, said the proposed wedding fee increase was "not as steep" as it looked because the ability to make extra charges would no longer possible.

"Indeed in some places, what couples actually pay will almost certainly go down," he told the General Synod, which met at York University.

But the Rev Sharon Jones, from Rochdale, said the proposed increase in marriage fees had caused "huge dismay" in her area.

In recent years, the Church has significantly relaxed the rules governing where couples may marry.

People have generally had the right to marry in their own parish church, or the one they attend.

Funeral costs

But access to other parish churches has historically been far more restricted.

Recently, however, the Synod has allowed couples to marry in any parish church where they can show a "connection".

It could be as distant as a grandparent having married there.

That has inevitably increased the pressure on a number of more popular "picture postcard" churches, and allowed them to command a higher price.

The Synod also rejected suggestions that the price of funerals in Anglican churches should go up from £102 to £150.

The Church said the new fees would reflect a more realistic assessment of the value of the time and expertise of the people taking part, and the cost to parishes.

A crematorium service would have carried the same charge.

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