Local councils are overwhelmed by the number of people taking advantage of the right to a free wedding ceremony and some are trying to make it as unappealing as possible, the Volkskrant reported.
The paper, which made an inventory of the conditions surrounding a freebie civil ceremony at more than a hundred of the largest towns and cities in the country, found that obstacles included everything from an inappropriate venue, such as the registry desk of the town hall, to perfunctory ceremonies lasting only five minutes.
By law towns of over 10,000 inhabitants have to offer the free ceremony twice a week while smaller towns only have to offer one free slot. Some local councils do not mention the possibility on their websites.
According to statistics office CBS, one in three couples is using the right to get hitched for free at the town hall but more and more local councils are putting up obstacles, often with the government turning a blind eye.
The organisation of local councils NVVB said it understands ‘the avalanche’ of free marriage ceremonies is overwhelming local councils and will ask the new cabinet to do something about it.
‘A solution could be to make the free ceremony means tested, or introduce a hundred euro ceremony, as many local councils are already doing,’ NVVB chairman Simon Rijsdijk told the paper.
To discourage prospective married couples some local councils are making them turn up at nine on a Monday or Tuesday morning, restrict the free ceremony to people who are resident in the town or ask for proof of income.
Other punitive measures include very small venues where there is only room for the bride and groom and two witnesses while in Delft, Terneuzen and Hardewijk, the ceremony is rushed to its conclusion in the space of five minutes.
Alkmaar local council does not allow couples to exchange rings and taking photographs is also ‘frowned upon’. Súdwest-Fryslân and Amsterdam are the exceptions. Here the ceremony lasts 10 minutes while allowing 20 guests to be present, the paper writes.
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