Experts Say Record Low Reflects Changing Times
New statistics have shown another drop in marriages, with a record low of religious ceremonies taking place.
The new stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 242,842 marriages in England and Wales in 2017 – a decrease of 2.8% from 2016 records – and that the amount of religious ceremonies taking place had dropped to 22%.
The average age of opposite-sex couples getting married had also increased, with the average being 38 years for men and 35.7 years for women.
Expert family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the drop in religious ceremonies has many different causes, such as more relaxed standards for young couples from traditional backgrounds and the socio-economic conditions for many.
Expert Opinion“The new statistics are unsurprising given the shifts we’re seeing as family lawyers in the way couples from religious backgrounds adapt to modern societal standards and a more challenging economic landscape.
“Times have moved on, and being a couple doesn’t necessarily mean having a piece of paper to prove that. More couples are getting together from different religious backgrounds; while living together might be acceptable to traditional parents, getting married may be a step too far for the families – and so less religious ceremonies are taking place.
“There’s also the rise in civil ceremonies to take into account – instead of being at the church or mosque, couples can get married pretty much anywhere they want to, which is just another example of how times have changed.” Zahra Pabani - Partner
The drop reflects a long-term trend; while religious ceremonies accounted for 85% of marriages in 1900, this had dropped to 49% by the 1970s and continued to plummet. The stats also note that civil marriages have outnumbered religious marriages every year since 1992.
Specialist lawyers also say the expense of a ceremony might put couples off getting married, particularly when house prices are also at their highest-ever levels. Zoopla currently estimates the average property value to be around £320,000 as of April 2020, while the average wedding cost for the UK currently runs at over £30,000 according to bridal website Bridebrook’s 2018 statistics.
Zahra continued: “It’s a lot more difficult for people to get on the property ladder these days, and so couples might prioritise saving for a decent house deposit instead of an eye-wateringly expensive wedding – or even just wait until they’re a bit older to get married, as there’s no real rush, which is also reflected in the statistics.
“At the end of the day, times have changed but love is still love; couples can still be committed to one another, but without the ring and expense of a wedding.”