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Big day and before: banns, and the organist

01 September 2010


From the Revd Neil Fairlamb

Sir, — Is £50 to £150 too much to pay for an organist’s contribution to a wedding service (News, 27 August)?

Our excellent professional is at the lower end of that scale, and if the “full works” of church, minister, full choir, organist, eight bell-ringers, and verger are re­quested, the total cost at Beaumaris is £495. No one has ever com­plained; indeed, compared with hotels offering special reception “deals”, we are very competitive, and taking into account the four-figure sums regularly spent on photo­graphy and flowers, we think the church fees are a small fraction of what can be a wedding bill of £20,000-plus these days.

Professional services come at a cost which includes appropriate protection. Organists have a commitment to their churches which needs to be respected; their playing on Sundays is paid less well, or not at all in some cases, and wedding fees are a way of recompensing organists for their time and cost. If they are gracious enough to make way for other musicians requested by the couple, they should still be paid: this is simply a professional etiquette.

The increase in fees for videoing is also a practice recommended to protect performing artists’ media rights: why should a professional video-maker make money out of another professional performer’s work without appropriate payment?

The Rectory, Beaumaris
Anglesey LL58 8BN

From Prebendary Neil Richardson

Sir, — Like Kevin Sims (Letters, 20 August), I, too, wonder at the efficacy of banns as a method of preventing improper marriages. The alternative used in civil marriages is much less likely to be efficacious, however. At Ealing Register Office, for example, they publish the intention to marry in a tiny room in the Town Hall, and nobody ever goes there to check on whether the candidates are proper or improper.

The whole system is antiquated and open to abuse. But who can suggest any better system?

The Rectory, Oldfield Lane South
Middlesex UB6 9JS

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