A vicar from Kent in the southeast of England is having none of the traditional saying about a bride’s privilege to be late for her wedding. The Rev. John Corbyn, vicar of Holy Cross Church in Bearstead, will charge brides £100 if they fail to give a good reason for showing up late.

Corbyn created the system after a series of ceremonies began up to 25 minutes after the agreed time.

“There had been two weddings which were very much overdue; there’s fashionably late and there’s just plain late,” he told Premier Christian Radio. “A few minutes late is no problem at all, but when weddings were starting 20 or 25 minutes late, that was causing problems.”

He describes the payment as a deposit that he levies before weddings. It is returned to couples after their ceremony on condition that the service begins within 10 minutes of the scheduled time. When the deposit is forfeited, the £100 is shared among staff affected by the wait: organists, bell-ringers, vergers, and choir.

Corbyn apparently learned of the idea from Africa, where Namirembe Cathedral in the Ugandan capital of Kampala observes a similar discipline.

“I certainly don’t regard it as a fine,” Corbyn said. “It’s a two-tier charge. If the service starts within ten minutes, it’s one fee, and if it starts more than ten minutes after the time the bride and groom have told us they want to start, then it’s another fee. It’s because they’ve kept all our staff here and they’ve worked longer than the original fee had anticipated.”

John Martin

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