The number of marriages in England and Wales has fallen by almost nine per cent.
According to newly published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 240,854 marriages in 2013. This represents an 8.6 per cent drop since the previous year and is the first decline since 2009.
Despite the drop, first time marriages actually increased. In 2013, 67 per cent of marriages were the first for both partners involved. This continued a steady upward trend since 2000 when only 58 per cent of marriages featured two first-time partners. By contrast only 15 per cent of marriages had two people who had both married before, which was a drop from 19 per cent between 1995 and 2000.
Almost three quarters – 72 per cent – of all marriages in 2013 were celebrated in civil ceremonies. The difference between those weddings and religious ceremonies has been steadily increasing over the last few years. The last time religious weddings outnumbered civil ones was 1991. This trend continued in 2013, when the number of religious ceremonies fell by 14 per cent in 2013, but the number of civil marriages only fell by six per cent.
The overall drop in the marriage rate continues a long-term decline in marriages since 1972, the ONS said. Increasingly, people are delaying marriage or “choosing to cohabit rather than marry, either as a precursor to marriage or as an alternative”, the report read.
Alternatively, the decline could have been down to some couples delaying marriage in 2013 “to avoid the number 13 which is perceived as unlucky by many cultures”, ONS statistician Elizabeth McLaren suggested.
Read the ONS report in full here.