CHURCH members say an impending price hike for weddings is inevitable but hope it will not put people off traditional ceremonies.
Fees for weddings are to rise by 40 per cent and the cost of a funeral service by more than half under plans backed by the Church of England.
Members of the Church voted in favour of raising the base cost of a wedding, including the cost of banns but no added extras, from £296 to £415 from January next year.
The cost of a funeral service in church will also rise from £102 to £160, a 57 per cent increase.
The new fees include the costs of lighting and administration for the first time, but do not take into account other charges such as heating, vergers and services such as organists and bell ringers.
It currently costs £287 for a basic wedding at St Hilda’s Church, on Hartlepool’s Headland, but that rises to £420 when essentials such as heating and administration are included.
Reverend Chris Collison said he is surprised to hear that the Church of England are raising prices across the board, but running a historic building such as St Hilda’s is getting more and more expensive.
He added: “I live in the real world and we get bills just like everyone else. Our heating alone costs £8,000 a year. There are no pennies from heaven.
“I am surprised by such a big increase, but there hasn’t been one for years. It may put a few people off, but the church ceremony is still the most important part of the day.
“We provide a service which I believe is considerably superior to any other venues in an ancient, historic church, but sadly that does come at a price.”
St Luke’s Church, in Tunstall Avenue, Hartlepool, currently charges £467.50, which includes everything apart from service sheets, which are £15 extra.
Julia Taylor, parish administrator, said: “As a church, we have put up fees slightly to cover increases such as heating costs and administration, but it is still under £500.
“There was only a £6 rise in January so a bigger increase is due next year, but I don’t think people will be put off getting married in a church because of that.
“There’s a misconception about how expensive it is to get married in a church. When you look at other venues and registry offices, there is not much difference and everywhere is getting more expensive.
“I would urge couples to look into the costs and compare them.”
The backing for the price hikes comes in spite of warnings from members of the General Synod that poorer couples could be priced out of a Church of England wedding.
Overall fee income contributes around £35m a year to running the Church of England, with around £15m of this going for clergy pay.
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