C of E wedding fees to rise by 40%

Wedding cakeFees for weddings are to rise by 40% and the cost of a funeral service by more than half under plans backed by the Church of England.

Members of the Church of England voted in favour of raising the cost of a wedding - including the cost of banns - 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% rise.

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.

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.

The Rev Canon Simon Killwick, a vicar in inner city Moss Side, Manchester, said: "Such a fee increase seems to me hard to justify in times of financial austerity and even harder to justify in poor inner-city parishes.

"The Church of England ought not to be seen to be making a big increase at this time and ought not to be making it difficult for the poor to access these services at a time when a simple ceremony can be had at a register office for around £100."

He added that the Church of England could not rely on the right to waive fees in cases of hardship: "That places the clergy in the invidious position of attempting to means test parishioners and people do talk. Waiving can cause real ill feeling."

But the Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, said the new fees schedule reflected the "reality" of the costs. He added that the new scheme reduced confusion over different fees charged by different parishes in the Church of England.

Overall fee income contributes around £35 million a year to running the Church of England, with around £15 million of this going for clergy pay, he told the General Synod.