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A £100 charge by Kent rector gets brides to the church on time

12 January 2018


Canon John Corbyn checks his watch outside his church, Holy Cross, Bearsted, in Kent

Canon John Corbyn checks his watch outside his church, Holy Cross, Bearsted, in Kent

A TEAM RECTOR in Kent came to national prominence last week after it was revealed that he charges wedding couples more if they arrive late.

Couples who turn up more than ten minutes late for their wedding at Holy Cross, Bearstead, without a reasonable excuse are charged an extra £100.

Canon John Corbyn, the Team Rector of Holy Cross, said that he did not see the higher charge as a “fine” but “just as a two-tiered rate”, to encourage brides to turn up at the allotted time.

The £100 deposit, charged in advance, is returned to the couple if they are on time.

The scheme appears to work, Canon Corbyn said; every bride turned up on time for her wedding in 2017, and “everybody was happy.”

The extra money does not go to the clergy or the parish, but to those who help out in the service and are kept waiting. “The £100 is distributed among the local actors, like the organist, verger, bell-ringers, and the choir,” Canon Corbyn said. “If there are two dozen of them, they only get a fiver each, but it’s something.”

Prudence Fay, a bell-ringer, said: “Bell-ringers around the country will cheer” at the idea of charging late couples extra in an effort to make them arrive on time. Lateness is something that bell-ringers and others who contribute to wedding services “grumble about a very great deal,” she said.

The Archdeacon of Maidstone, the Ven. Stephen Taylor said: “John is a talented priest who is skilled at working with wedding couples to make their big day special.

“This arrangement is a voluntary deposit paid by the couple, which is refunded under ordinary circumstances. It is neither a fee nor a bonus; it is separate from the standard fees that couples are required to pay, and is not a fine.”

The scheme has been in place for nine years. Canon Corbyn said last week that he had never received a comment, “let alone a criticism”, about it until the story was picked up by his local paper and then spotted by the national media.

“It has been absolutely exhausting,” Canon Corbyn said of the media attention. “There are lots more important things in the world, but it has been nice to see something cheerful on the front of the local paper.”


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