Herefordshire Council is introducing a non-refundable £60 fee to book a registrar up to two years ahead, and will also charge a £25 administration fee to then change the date, time or venue of the ceremony.
A marriage or civil partnership ceremony in a council room will go from £245 to £270, while for a Saturday and now also Friday, this goes from £285 to £315. Ceremonies on Sundays and bank holidays are not offered.
From April next year the Oak Room in Hereford’s Town Hall will no longer be available for weddings, “as part of the move of council services out of the building”, the council’s decision notice added.
However it is still obliged to offer a “basic” ceremony for the couple and two witnesses only, at the Town Hall on Tuesdays at 9.30am for the nationally set rate of £46.
The General Register Office, which oversees rules and regulations around marriages in England, is currently considering plans to remove the need for approved wedding venues, allowing ceremonies to take place anywhere and carried out by independent officiants.
“If this becomes law, this will have a significant negative impact on the income the council can generate,” its decision warns.
The council is therefore looking at introducing new packages for “high-quality, flexible, bespoke ceremonies” to ensure its service is “the first point of call for couples considering their options”.
Meanwhile the cost of getting hitched at a licensed non-council venue, of which the county currently has over 50, is to go up from £430 to £465, and to £495 on a Friday or Saturday, or £515 on a Sunday or bank holiday, up from the current £460.
The fees such venues must pay to hold a standard three-year licence is also going up, from £1,500 to £1,700. But venues can now also take out a longer licence of five, seven or ten years, reducing the administrative burden on both sides.
Compared with neighbouring counties, Herefordshire “remains competitive and affordable for couples and venues whilst covering increasing service costs”, the council’s decision said.
Meanwhile the cost of the private citizenship ceremonies which the council also hosts is going up more than threefold, from £50 to £175. Group citizenship ceremonies are still free.
Further increases in charges are proposed for the next two years but these remain subject to yearly review.
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