Church criticized for requiring wedding florists, photographers to pay annual accreditation fee

Anyone who has ever been married knows that costs can stack up when planning the wedding, so many took offense when it was made public yesterday that one of the most popular churches in Manila plans to charge wedding suppliers, like florists and photographers, an annual “accreditation” fee.

Dominic Barrios, a photographer and wedding blogger, shared photos of Santuario de San Antonio Parish’s rates on Facebook, which he learned about during an event the church organized.

“If I was still shooting weddings, I would definitely tell all my couples NOT TO BOOK or GET MARRIED at Santuario de San Antonio Parish,” Barrios said in his caption. “They are charging couples and suppliers excessively just so couples can get married and suppliers can serve the couple there.”

If I was still shooting weddings, I would definitely tell all my couples NOT TO BOOK or GET MARRIED at Santuario de San…

Posted by Dominic Barrios on Thursday, March 15, 2018

Based on the photo, the church will charge wedding coordinators an annual fee of PHP50,000 (US$962.24). Florists and photographers will be charged PHP30,000 (US$577.34) and PHP20,000 (US$384.90), respectively.

A lot of churches in the Philippines have a list of accredited suppliers they have vetted to ensure that the sanctity of the ceremony is preserved. But this was the first time Barrios learned of such a setup.

“I’ve heard of accreditations for florists [in] other churches but not annual accreditation fees for every supplier,” he said.

While Barrios understands why churches need to screen suppliers, he finds the exorbitant fees unnecessary and said that it’ll just force suppliers to increase their going rates.

And many people feel the same way. Since his post made the rounds online, several people have left 1-star reviews on Santuario de San Antonio’s Facebook page, criticizing the church for its rates.

Some quoted Pope Francis when he warned in 2014 that churches should not be turned into businesses.

One poster reminded them that the word of God shouldn’t cost a thing.

Facebook user Will Anthony Villar said he and his wife considered getting married there but felt disrespected when they inquired about the process with the church admin.

Santuario de San Antonio is one of the most sought-after wedding venues in Manila. It’s located in Forbes Park, an affluent gated community in the business district Makati City. Depending on the date, some couples may need to reserve the church at least one year in advance to ensure its availability.

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic society, so many still prefer to have a religious ceremony. And to Barrios, that’s really the most vital part of any wedding. “[W]e want people to focus more on having a meaningful sacrament of marriage. We are advocates of marriage,” he said.

“Unfortunately, if one church decides to implement supplier accreditations which charges as high as 50k a year for every supplier, the one who will suffer the most are the clients of these suppliers.”

In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Fr. Reu C. Galoy, Santuario de San Antonio’s parish maintained that the rates were “fair and well thought out” but apologized for the concerns it has caused.

An Important Message from Parish Priest, Fr. Reu C. Galoy

Posted by Santuario de San Antonio Parish on Thursday, March 15, 2018

He also assured that the parish will review people’s comments and “arrive at a sensible set of rules that would address the interests of all concerned.”

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