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Church weddings down by 6%

05 July 2013

by a staff reporter


MARRIAGE is gaining in popularity again, official statistics suggest - but not in churches.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of marriages has begun to rise, after years of decline. In 2011, 247,890 people married, a rise of 1.7 per cent on the previous year.

But the majority - 70 per cent - chose to have a civil rather than a church wedding, continuing a pattern that began as far back as 1976, when civil ceremonies overtook religious weddings for the first time.

Religious ceremonies dropped by six per cent in 2011, to 73,000. Of these, 53,700 were conducted by the Church of England and the Church in Wales, a drop of nearly seven per cent, although it had previously experienced a rise of four per cent in 2010 - a rise attributed to the Church's Wedding Project.

ONS said that the growth in marriage overall was because of a rise in older people marrying again. The research shows that, for example, 10,780 men aged over 60 marrying in 2011, most for the second or third time.

The average age of couples getting married has been rising steadily. The mean age of those marrying for the first time was 32.1 for men, and 30 for women, in 2010.

Vows "too religious". A couple from London were forced to rewrite their vows at the 11th hour last weekend, after a council official told them that they sounded too religious for a civil ceremony, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Gary and Louise Lidington had wanted to use the phrase "in sickness and in health" and "to have and to hold", but officials in Tower Hamlets, east London, said that they were too Christian because of the echoes of the Book of Common Prayer. The couple compromised, but recited their planned vows afterwards at the reception. A council spokesperson apologised for the short notice the couple were given, but said that it was important that "their civil ceremony complied with the relevant legality process".

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