(Christian Concern) — The number of men and women getting married in England and Wales has fallen to a new low, official government statistics show.
The latest figures show that there were a total of 242,842 marriages in 2017 – a decrease of 2.8% from 2016. The change was apparently driven by a 9.5% decline the number of religious marriages, together with a 0.6% decline in the number of civil marriages. Less than a quarter (22%) of all marriages in 2017 were religious ceremonies, which is the lowest percentage on record. Civil marriages have outnumbered religious marriages every year since 1992.
While opposite-sex couples accounted for the majority of marriages in 2017 (97%), the number of men and women marrying each other has decreased by some 45% since 1972. The average age at marriage was 38 years for men and 35 years for women.
Reportedly, some 88% of opposite-sex couples cohabited before getting married. This figure was only marginally higher for couples who had a civil ceremony (90%) compared with those who had a religious ceremony (81%).