Free marriage ceremonies soar in popularity, councils can’t cope

So many couples are opting to get married for free that councils are being forced to reduce the ceremony back to basics to keep costs under control, the Telegraaf reports on Thursday.

Six years ago, just 3% of people getting married opted for the free ceremony but that has now soared to 35%, local authority spokesman Joep Schulten told news agency ANP.

Councils are required by law to offer people a free option. Even people who marry in church are required to have civil ceremony as well.

The average waiting list for a free wedding has now risen to six weeks, compared to just two weeks for people who are prepared to pay for the civil ceremony, ANP reported


Schulten estimates a ‘free’ ceremony actually costs a council €400. Many are now ditching the ushers and music and some have even introduced ‘over the counter’ marriages.

For example, Bergen op Zoom town council is considering reducing free marriage ceremonies to 15 minutes and limiting the number of guests to 12. ‘The aim is to make a free ceremony less attractive,’ a spokesman told the Telegraaf.

‘We have people getting married for free and then heading off on expensive honeymoons. But the free option is meant for people with little money,’ the spokesman said.

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