Couple's shock over the high cost of saying 'I do' in Cheshire East
COUPLE Andrew Ford and Ana Doughty were elated after finding a perfect wedding venue – until they realised the cost of a registrar is almost double that of other regions.
After researching their big day, husband-to-be Andrew found that the cost of a civil ceremony in Cheshire East is as much as £620.
This entitles couples to a 30-minute service on a Saturday afternoon – which would cost just £295 in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent.
The 31-year-old teacher, from Bowling Alley Street in Kidsgrove has now raised the costs with the local authority after accusing them of profiteering from a couple's big day.
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He said: "It was a few months ago when we started looking into venues and we didn't even consider the cost of the registrar because we didn't think it would be that much.
"We had our heart set on a venue when we started looking into the cost of a civil ceremony.
"At first I thought the prices were steep but that they must be in line with other authorities. But after looking into prices elsewhere the difference is absolutely outrageous."
The cost of getting married in Cheshire East on a weekday is £400, it is £480 on a Saturday morning, £620 from 2pm onwards and £520 on a Sunday.
These costs are higher across the board than nearby Cheshire West, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Andrew, who proposed to Ana after hearing his partner's family would be over from New Zealand in April, said: "We are still going to go ahead with the wedding because I know she has her heart set on that venue.
"It is not about the money but generally the principle of the thing. They are just capitalising on being in a nice area."
The couple have booked the wedding at a bar and restaurant called Residence in Nantwich for Sunday, April 28, and will pay £520. Andrew has complained to the council but described its response as 'laughable', adding that the quality of a venue should not affect the cost of a registrar.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member in charge of communities and regulatory services, said: "Cheshire East is very privileged in that it has a number of unique settings for marriage and civil partnerships ranging from castles, stately homes, boutique hotels, converted barns and even a former monastery."
But Andrew argued: "They seem to think we are lucky to have a variety of venues available – but we already pay for that separately."
Demand is high to get married in Cheshire East, with council registrars officiating at an average of four weddings a day.
That equates to more than 1,500 ceremonies each year in approved premises.
Councillor Gilbert added: "Cheshire East believes that in a competitive market where couples can choose wherever they wish to marry, these fees are fair.
"More than 70 per cent of couples come from outside of the borough, who help to boost our economy to the tune of more than £22 million, which in turn secures jobs for the residents of Cheshire East.
"Furthermore, the registration service must be self-funding and through achieving this by setting fees that cover the service's costs, it means we do not require the council tax payers of Cheshire East to subsidise it."
But wife-to-be Ana, aged 28, from Kidsgrove agrees with her partner.
The teaching assistant said: "We are all booked up and going ahead with it but it is a lot of money when the service is no different than anywhere else.
"It is the biggest day of our lives and the venue is so perfect and just how I imagined it to be. But I don't understand how they can justify this cost."