Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 14:08 UK

Vicar offers wedding payment help

Reverend Ben Phillips
Rev Ben Phillips' offer is open to couples in Stanwix

A Cumbrian vicar is offering to help cash-strapped couples pay for a wedding in church.

Rev Ben Phillips, from St Michael's Church, in Stanwix, and St Mark's in Belah, wants to help couples who are genuinely struggling to pay.

The Church of England vicar said he will personally cover the £250 statutory cost.

He said he wanted to support couples and was worried they were putting off their weddings because of the cost.

Mr Phillips said: "I am offering this to any couple in Stanwix who would like to have a Christian marriage and who genuinely cannot afford it.

"I will personally pay your statutory fees."

I am worried about people feeling that they have to have a fortune in money before they can commit in their love
Rev Ben Phillips

Mr Phillips, who earns £21,000 a year, said he would be quite happy to be overwhelmed by approaches although he is not expecting to be.

In 2008, there were four weddings at the church, so far in 2009 five are booked in and the number goes up to 10 for 2010.

He said he hoped it would encourage people to choose simple weddings.

He said: "I just feel like the Church of England should stop charging fees for anything.

"That if we want to be the Church of England for England we should be doing things for free, offering ministry for free, so that we are giving things to people.

"And secondly I am worried about people feeling that they have to have a fortune in money before they can commit in their love.

"And that's social, it's not the church that has done it, it's not any group that has done it, but socially people feel that they have to have between £3,000 and £15,000 before they can get married."



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