LETTERS: Weddings and optional extras

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From The Rev T. R. Barker

Sir: Mrs M. Harris (letter, 9 December) draws attention to an important issue but hits the wrong target. The legal fees for a marriage service in the Church of England, from 1 January 1996, will be pounds 114, plus pounds 12 for the banns of marriage. To this can be added - if the couple request such services and if they are available in their parish church - charges for music (the organist and choir), the ringing of the church bells, flowers and additional heating.

Yet, even if all these extra charges are added in a large parish church, the church fees remain a very small part of the cost of the average marriage. The trouble is that, for a whole variety of reasons, couples choose to spend vast amounts of money on cars, videos, photographs and dresses for the bride and bridesmaids - and that is before taking into account the cost of the wedding reception, the almost inevitable evening party and a honeymoon.

When one looks at the substantial cost of an elaborate wedding, even in a less affluent community, the church fees are almost small change. It is perfectly possible to have a church wedding without all the extra expenditure that so many couples choose.

If the cost of a church wedding really is beyond the means of some couples, then perhaps we have to look again at our charges. But the prospect of running a means test in the vestry of the vicarage does not appeal.

Yours faithfully,

T. R. Barker

Diocesan Communications Officer

Chester

10 December

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