The law on fees and charging for a wedding

These are key considerations every PCC needs to know about lawfully charging for a wedding.

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There are four distinct types of payment that you may receive from couples marrying in the parish. Each has important legal rules around their administration. 

Statutory fees

Everyone who is entitled to marry in a church can do so for the set statutory fee and no more. The statutory fee covers all that is legally required to marry in church:

  • Use of the building
  • Lighting
  • Ministry time
  • All related administration

The fee, agreed annually at General Synod and set in Law after Parliamentary approval, is the only compulsory part of a wedding fee. You cannot inflate the set fee or charge extra for any of the above items, regardless of the size of your church.

Anything that a couple may wish to have in addition to the above elements of a basic marriage service are optional extras which the couple must be free to choose or decline.

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Optional extras

Optional extras can include provisions for heating, the services of a verger, having the church bells rung, hiring the church choir or organist, or having flowers supplied and arranged by the church. Couples are not obliged to choose any of these elements for their wedding, but if they do, you may charge the extra. 

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Quoting for a wedding

It’s important when quoting for a wedding to distinguish between the required statutory fee and the optional extras in an itemised format. You cannot, for example, offer a ‘wedding package’ which combines the statutory fee and the cost of some common optional extras and present this total as the non-negotiable cost of a wedding at your church.

It is good practice to quote for these extras at one of the first meetings with the couple, so they can budget and make their choices accordingly.

A free resource pack for the first meeting with a wedding couple is available from Church Support Hub to help you quote for weddings in line with the Law. It includes a  quoting form for weddings and is updated annually to reflect the correct statutory fee for that year.

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Gifts and donations

In addition to the compulsory fees and optional extras, some couples may wish to give a financial gift to the church. Donations must be freely given – couples should not be made to feel under any obligation. 

You may lawfully request a donation and suggest an amount – perhaps outlining the kinds of things a donation would help to support at your church – but you may not infer that it is a compulsory payment and a condition of having a wedding at the church. Neither should you automatically add a donation to the couple’s final bill unless they have explicitly agreed to it.

Remember to check with the couple whether their donation can be Gift-Aided. Read more about collecting Gift Aid

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It’s common for churches to take a deposit ahead of a wedding in case of cancellation. Outlined below are a few reminders to help you do so lawfully. 

Churches cannot lawfully insist on payment of the statutory fee until the wedding takes place. If, however, the couple would like to make small payments for their wedding over a period of time before the wedding to spread the cost, you may receive them, providing that if the wedding does not take place, at least the statutory part of those payments is fully refunded to the couple. 

If a wedding is cancelled and you have already called one or more of the banns, you may lawfully retain the fee for just those banns readings. 

Deposits can be taken on the optional extras to help secure the services of church officers, such as the verger, musicians, bellringers or flower arrangers. It is essential to clearly outline for the couple any circumstances where the deposit would not be refundable. Do this in the early planning stages so they are fully aware. You may wish to agree with your PCC an approach where refundable amounts on the deposit are reduced the closer it is to a wedding date. Deciding on whether to refund a deposit that secures optional extras is entirely at the discretion of the incumbent and PCC, but do bear in mind the circumstances surrounding a wedding cancellation and make your decision sensitively and pastorally. 

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Useful resources

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Last updated

Page published June 2024 / Next review date June 2025