Since the onset of the financial crisis earlier this year, an increasing number of Greek couples are opting for civil weddings rather than expensive religious ceremonies and even those who decide to splash out for a church service are cutting back on the trimmings. An official at Piraeus City Hall told Kathimerini that municipal authorities had seen a surge of interest in civil weddings. «There is definitely an upward trend,» he said. «Many couples decide to do the civil ceremony first with the aim of having a religious wedding afterward but they do not usually follow through with the second stage of the plan,» the official added. A spokesman for the Municipality of Ilion, western Athens, reported the same trend. «Civil weddings are up by 10 percent,» said the head of the weddings department. «After a period of one to three years, not even half of these couples will have a religious ceremony,» the official added. It is clear that financial concerns are behind the shift, officials say, as a civil wedding costs much less than a religious ceremony – just 50 euros to cover the fees of both spouses and the publication of the marriage notice. A spokesperson for the municipal authorities in Maroussi, northern Athens, said that some couples used to opt for civil weddings to acquire a mortgage on more favorable terms. Fewer couples are seeking to buy properties in the current climate however, the official said, noting that those asking for civil weddings now appear to be doing so to save money. Many couples going ahead with religious ceremonies are also reportedly cutting back on costs. According to the priest in charge of organizing marriages at a church in Maroussi, couples ask for «only the absolute basics.» «They no longer want all the trimmings, the choirs, red carpets and trinkets for guests,» he said.