Church of England parishes are being urged to scrap fees for couples getting married in its churches to encourage more people to tie the knot.
The Blackburn Diocesan Synod believes the current structure is "economically unjust” as it puts church weddings "beyond the reach of the poorest of our society”.
According to the latest figures, couples can pay up to £560 if they marry in a different diocese to the one where they live. The price reduces by £50 if they marry in their home parish.
The rate is set by the Church of England nationally and it covers the cost of the vicar, the service, lighting and all administration.
As the General Synod is due to meet next month, clergy are urging the church’s legislative body to re-evaluate the system to show the church’s commitment to “marriage and pastoral care”.
The Diocesan Synod says fees relating to marriage should be “set at nil or at a minimal amount”.
Rev Dr Tom Woolford, who signed off the proposal, said: “There is a correlation between the rising level of Church of England wedding fees and the sharp decline in recent years in numbers of church weddings, a trend which appears to be especially acute in poorer areas.
“The current fee structure is economically unjust, putting church weddings beyond the reach of the poorest in society,” the proposal read.
It continued: “If we believe in marriage as we ought, we should ensure that finance is not a bar to anyone who wishes to marry in church. Expensive fees limit the missional potential of marriage ministry.”
Last month, figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed weddings taking place at places of worship have hit a record low.