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Marriage levels are at their lowest in 150 years


Published on 1 Apr 2011 17:00 : 0 comments : 740 views

With the average cost of a wedding around £18,600 there’s no wonder fewer people are getting married these days. According to the Office of National Statistics in 2009 only 21.3 out of 1000 men aged 16 or over married. The level for women was even lower at 19.2 per 1000. In 2009 a total of 231,490 marriages were registered in England and Wales. In 1895 there 228,204 marriages, but the population back then was much lower. This is a substantial drop compared to 1972 when the number of registered marriages peaked at 480,285. In fact, in 2009, the marriage rate (i.e. the proportion of single population that actually got married) was at its lowest level since records began in 1862. The figures show that more than two-thirds of marriages were actually civil ceremonies. There were 155,860 civil ceremonies in 2009, or 67 per cent of the total. There were 75,630 religious weddings, a fall of nearly 3,000 in a year. Religious ceremonies have declined by a quarter since 1999.

As the cost of living increases there’s no wonder that more couples are choosing to live together rather than get married. Whilst many young couples do aspire to get married, it is not something that many achieve, with other ambitions, such as climbing the career ladder, taking priority.

People are also choosing to get married later in life. The average bride is now 30 and the average groom is 32 when they walk down the aisle. In 1970 this was much lower with the average bride being 22 and the average groom 24.

Civil Registration of marriages (and births and deaths) began on the 1st July 1837. Before that the records weren’t centralised and are held in local Parish records. On Genes Reunited our marriage records have recently been indexed making it very easy to find details of your ancestor’s marriage. When you search for your relative in our marriage records we also show you a possible spouse match. This will reveal the maiden name of the wife, which is a great help for your research.

Not only that, but you can use the information we supply and go to the General Register Office to order a copy of the marriage certificate itself. One of the benefits of ordering a certificate is that you should see details of the fathers of the bride and the groom. You’ll also see where they were living at the time of the marriage. You’ll see who witnessed the marriage and this can be a clue to the rest of the family. Maybe it was witnessed by a brother or a married sister?

Our marriage records are from 1837 up to 2005, so come along today and see what you can discover!