THE Rector of Holy Trinity Church in Bradford on Avon says she's puzzled by a sharp fall in couples wanting to exchange their marriage vows in church.

The Reverend Canon Joanna Abecassis says she has only six weddings booked in so far for 2020 and none at all for 2021.

She said: “We’ve only had five weddings this year at Holy Trinity Church and none at St Mary in Wingfield and St Mary the Virgin in Westwood.

“Next year, I’ve only booked six weddings to date at Holy Trinity and none at the Wingfield and Westwood churches. At the moment, there’s nothing booked for 2021 at any of the three churches.

“We’ve got three fantastic venues for weddings and it appears they're not being used as nearly much as they should be."

The sharp drop compares against 19 weddings at the churches in 2013 and 11 in 2018.

Wedding services at Holy Trinity start from £489 for the very simplest of ceremonies to just under £1,000 for a service with all the trimmings of organ, bells and choir.

Rev Abecassis added: "To be honest, the sharp drop in numbers puzzles us - as in fact it does other couples whose marriages I've celebrated and who I've spoken to when we meet about town, as they all say what a fantastic experience it was.

"Marriages are dropping in total nationally - but plenty still happen. I think people just don't realise how special a church wedding can be.

"After all, we're not there to make money. What's more, it's a deeply spiritual experience and a very personal one from start to finish as we so often become friends."

Rev Abecassis was speaking at a heritage open day on Saturday at Holy Trinity Church where visitors were able to see what the church has to offer.

Visitors were able to enjoy church tours, see Holy Trinity’s collection of historic silver, and enjoy organ recitals and the church choir singing.

Groups displaying information about their activities included Messy Church, which meets on the third Sunday of every month, and Mainly Music for very young children.

Rev Abecassis added: “I think everyone – in-house and visitors, including folk new to Bradford on Avon, alike – really enjoyed it and there was a very positive and happy atmosphere."

“We apparently recruited a new oboe player for the music group and a new flower-arranger so that was good!

“We all had lots of really good conversations about the things that we do and there was lots of interest.

“There was a display about the re-ordering project which folk were very interested in – especially all the detailed archaeology photos.”

Holy Trinity Church stages a wide range of music events, including concerts, and has an active choir directed by Martin Cooke, its director of music.

Other activities and events include the Trinity Cafe, a regular monthly meeting place for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The church is also used by the Mothers’ Union, the Saxon Club, and the Bradford on Avon bellringing team.

It is also hoping to become only the second church in the Salisbury Diocese to gain an eco church gold award for its environmental practice.