There are potentially big things a foot on the weddings front.
I was chatting earlier with my mole in the House of Clergy and there’s a couple of things that will impact us here if the current proposals go through.
My big concern is it looks like Synod are going to try and rush this stuff through for 2012 which means we have already told some couples potentially erroneous information.
1) Charges for Weddings look like it will double in order to eradicate ‘local inconsistencies’ however the legislation will also ban Churches from charging for Heating, Lighting or any other extras except flowers / bells / organ. Apparently we are to take heart these costs are part of our increased fees but in reality the diocesan fee will probably increase in-line with the full fee thus meaning we actually lose out.
2) Charging of a non-returnable deposit is apparently ‘illegal’ as it is deemed to be a deposit on legal fees of the certificate and registrar role. In english law this apparently is not allowed and is potentially fraud. We can still charge a returnable deposit but that kinda defeats the point. There needs to be a mechanism for the local Church not to be in a position that it loses out when couples cancel.
3) New fees will no longer be approved by Synod, but set by Bishop’s council – could potentially mean sharp increases each year we are unable to prepare couples for, depends how quickly they get the info out us – for the following year. As we have some interest for 2013 already I think there could be a number of folk who reconsider their Church wedding. Up to now we’ve been able to tell couples that their wedding will cost a little more than current fees, but it rarely goes up more than a fiver a time.
I know this stuff is only in discussion phase, and ultimately we do what we are told – but if they do rush this in for 2012 it could put us in a very sticky wicket.
I do wish Synod would spend a bit more time considering the impact this stuff has on already struggling parishes when they decide such sweeping changes.
Of course I could be way off on this stuff and any changes by Synod may well be very different by the time they hit the parish, but there is cause for much concern for us here.