(Written February 2008, published in Baddow Life, Issue 19, Spring 2008)
Rev Tim Ball (pictured) of Holy Trinity, Springfield, who before ordination was a member of St Mary’s, Great Baddow, has caused a stir by offering free wedding services.
“My church believes that marriage is best for couples, for children and for the community,” he says. “So we have put our money where our mouth is. We will pay all the costs of the service in the church. We are offering a free marriage service to parishioners because Holy Trinity is a good place to celebrate love and commitment.”
Elsewhere he writes: “We would like to highlight the fact that the Christian marriage service expresses a higher ideal of committed love than any other wedding service. We hope we might encourage couples who aren’t married to consider it, or even to do it. … We want to bless people at the start of their married life.”
This offer (unfortunately not applicable in Great Baddow) only covers the cost of the service, usually £281. So the saving is a small one compared with the current average cost of a wedding, which is over £20,000. But it is an important symbol of the church’s commitment to marriage. It is also a reminder that the cost of a posh wedding need not be a barrier to getting married: a cheap or free wedding service can be followed by a bring-a-bottle celebration in the church hall.