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Silly Synod! 11 July 2011

Posted by Dr Moose in Church, Ponderings.

Well, it looks like the proposed plans to simplify Wedding Fees next year and into the future have been voted down.  Sad to say, but I think this is bad call. We’ve already liberalised the weddings regime to make it (slightly) too easy to get married in church by removing just about any obligation to attendance, and with it whittled away the mission opportunities. These more relaxed rules might increase the number of  “pretty church syndrome” marriages, but we are a missionary institution first and a state registration service very much last.

Although the headline fees would have been higher, they would have not only made life easier from an administration point of view, but curbed the number of extra fees, and in our case probably have reduced the overall costs for marriage. Given the cost of the day very often the church fees are minor (the dress usually costs more) and there are always ways and means to assist those who wish to get married in church and are genuinely struggling.

Bad call Synod. Now, I wonder what happened to the proposed Amendments to the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008, and whether they’ve actually done anything to help those in the invidious situation in the neighbouring (and church-less) parish?



1. Chris Sterry - 11 July 2011

Those IN the neighbouring parish, if it has no church, already have a right to marry in any adjoining parish. It is those not in the parish, who qualify through past residence, baptism, confirmation etc etc who do not

Dr Moose - 11 July 2011

True enough, and St Mary’s has been the default parish for those of the adjoining (former daughter) parish, for years. However, I have it on the authority of the Diocesan Registrar that the right of transfer only applies while they remain within that parish. Should they move between setting the date of the wedding and the wedding day itself they then lose the right to marriage in the parish in which they have booked it (unless they move into this parish or have/create qualifying connections with it)… and these are not the folks with the wit or the wealth to apply for an Archbishops’ License, as would be required under the current regulations in the CEMM 2008 and the amendments that went before General Synod, to the best of my knowledge.

2. Carys - 11 July 2011

I’m not sure about this one. Simple fees have much to commend them, but almost doubling the basic fee? I think that could deter people — and even if there were ways of helping, they might very well not ask so nobody can help!

Dr Moose - 12 July 2011

But it isn’t almost doubling, certainly when you remember that fees for Verger/Caretaker, heating/lighting (in “off” season) and even “administration” are explicitly included within it, rather than the RyanAir School of Fees which predominates. Half as much again, yes: double, no. A Civil Ceremony, de minimis, is still cheaper than the current set up, of course, and pretty soul-less.

Anyway the point is moot, as it’s not going to happen!

Carys - 12 July 2011

What I read (but I can’t remember where) told of a church which just charged the minimum without extras for heat, virger or anything. So for them it was almost doubling.

3. Graham - 11 July 2011

I have great respect for your view.

A pretty church wedding sounds fantastic if I ever get the chance again I have great reverence for the hallowed stones (or bricks!) that make these hallowed sanctuaries.

As it is I’d feel guilty and hypocritical so I’d find some other beautiful unhallowed place.

I still hope it will happen!

4. Andii - 17 July 2011

What I’m really concerned about (having served two churches whose buildings were unbecoming for wedding photos) is making sure that both the mission opportunities of weddings don’t get lost because harried clergy in pretty buildings can’t keep up with the prep and follow-up (ie we need a way for the clergy of of the parish of residence to be involved meaningfully in the whole process) and we need for a way for some of that income to be able to support the ministry of those less comely marriage-buildings’ churches.

Dr Moose - 17 July 2011

I have to agree Andii. While I don’t know how the pastoral/missional issues can be handled, bearing in mind that under the 2008 Measure there is no obligation on couples to attend the church they demonstrate a meaningful connection with, even something as simple as a mandatory 50/50 split of church fees between “sending” and “marrying” parish would be a start… and another admin imposition to wrangle through, especially for those of us who do our own admin!

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