Wedding Bells

24th Jul, 2015

Switch on the TV this summer and you’ll find a multitude of weddings to enjoy or cringe through depending on whether you are watching “Married at First Sight” (voyeuristic but lovely – catch up on All4 if you haven’t seen it yet) or “Don’t Tell the Bride” (a BBC3 stalwart that has just moved up to BBC1).  Maybe the TV companies have picked up on the Office of National Statistics data that shows that the number of weddings is on the increase – latest data show numbers up by over 5% year on year between 2011 and 2012.

In 2015, there will be over 250,000 weddings which at an average spend of over £20,000 (multiple sources including You and Your Wedding and AOL) means that over £5 billion will be spent on tying the knot. As anyone who has got married knows, it’s Big Business.

Given this (and the fact that July and August are now the most popular months to get married – 29% of marriages in 2011) I have decided to list my top five facts about marriage in my blog this month:

  1. Did you know that unmarried men and women are now just about equally likely to get married in any given year – in 2011, 2.2% of unmarried men vs 2% of unmarried women got married. This is a very different picture from 1980 when there was a 1.2 percentage point difference between men and women – 6% of unmarried men got married that year vs only 4.8% of unmarried women. This is mainly a result of men living for longer and the shortage of men after the two World Wars having a diminishing effect.
  2. Since 1862 when ONS records began for England and Wales, there have been only two periods of over 400,000 marriages a year – just before and after the World War II and between 1968 and 1973. This second period shows that the advent of the pill (1963) and the legalisation of abortion (1967) took a good while to have an impact on marriage trends. There has been a long term decline in the rate of marriage since the 1970s, the ten lowest marriage rates since 1862 are all in the 21st century – the higher number of ceremonies celebrated in 2012 is only equal to the number in 1899 when the population was around half the size.
  3. Religious ceremonies have fallen dramatically in recent years – over 51% of marriages were religious in 1981 compared to only 30% in 2011, and despite an influx of new immigrant populations, there were only 8,390 Catholic marriages and 2,755 non-Christian religious ceremonies in England and Wales in 2011.
  4. Only possible at all since 1994, most marriages in 2011 (58% – 143,296 ceremonies) were held in approved premises such as hotels, stately homes and the like. The Registry Office has been the big loser in the rush to more and more unusual venues (even Wooky Hole is now available for weddings) only 12.5% of wedding were held in Registry Offices in 2011 compared to 44% in 2001.
  5. And unlike “Married at First Sight” where the participants meet for the first time on their wedding day, living together prior to marriage is the norm for all, even those having religious ceremonies. In 1994, 59% of couples having a religious ceremony didn’t cohabit before their wedding day, in 2011 this had fallen to only 22%. In total, 85% of couples are heading out to their ceremony from the same home.