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Latest statistics show continuing decline in marriage rates

There were 219,850 marriages in total in England and Wales in 2019, a decrease of 6.4 per cent from 2018. The figures have been released as part of the Office for National Statistics latest data on marriages in England and Wales, which relate to 2019.

In that year, there were 213,122 marriages between opposite-sex couples, a decrease of 6.5 per cent from 2018 and 6,728 marriages between same-sex couples, a decrease of 2.8 per cent from 2018.

Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples have fallen to their lowest on record since 1862; in 2019, for men, there were 18.6 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men; for women, there were 17.2 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women.

In 2019, religious ceremonies accounted for less than one in five (18.7 per cent) of opposite-sex marriages, a decrease from 21.1 per cent in 2018 and the lowest percentage on record; for same-sex marriages, 0.7 per cent of marriages were religious ceremonies.

The average (median) age at marriage for opposite-sex couples in 2019 was 34.3 years for men and 32.3 years for women; for same-sex couples this was higher at 38.1 years for men and 33.8 years for women.

Among marriages of opposite-sex couples in 2019, more than three-quarters of men and women (76.1 per cent and 77.1 per cent, respectively) married for the first time; among same-sex couples, first marriages were slightly higher with 89.3 per cent of men and 81.8 per cent of women marrying for the first time.

Dr James Tucker, Head of Health and Life Events Analysis at the Office for National Statistics, commented:

"The number of opposite-sex marriages has fallen by 50 per cent since 1972. This decline is a likely consequence of increasing numbers of men and women delaying marriage, or couples choosing to live together rather than marry, either as a precursor to marriage or as an alternative. Future analysis will show the impact of the pandemic on marriages rates."

For the latest figures, click here.