Civil ceremonies on the rise as religious weddings fall out of popularity

 

The number of couples getting married with religious ceremonies has fallen 6.2 per cent in a year.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed an increasing preference for civil ceremonies, especially those in approved premises such as stately homes and hotels.

Provisional statistics indicate that in 2011 in England and Wales there were 247,890 weddings, a 1.7 per cent rise from 243,808 the previous year. Of these, 174,600 were civil ceremonies, a 5.4 per cent rise, while religious weddings, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, correspondingly fell from 78,128 in 2010 to 73,290 in 2011.

Civil ceremonies now account for 70 per cent of all weddings, a rise from 64 per cent in 2001, and the proportion that took place in approved venues rose 14 per cent from 125,612 in 2010 to 143,220 in 2011.

“Following their introduction in 1995, there has been a continual increase in the proportion of marriages taking place in approved premises. This coincides with a rise in the number of approved premises licensed for weddings,” the ONS said in a statement.

Of the religious wedding ceremonies carried out in 2011, the latest year for which there are published figures, 53,700 were Church of England or Church of Wales, 8,240 were Roman Catholic, 8,680 were of other Christian denominations while 2,670 were for other religions including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism.

The number of women aged 16 or over getting married fell slightly from 20 per thousand to 19.8 but the number of men getting married remained constant at 20 per thousand.

The greatest number of marriages were for men and women aged 25 to 29 while the age group with the biggest percentage increase in the number of marriages from 2010 to 2011 was 6.5 per cent for women aged 55 to 59. The second biggest group was men aged 60 for whom there was a 6.5 per cent rise in marriages.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said the figures were a reflection of the way modern society is moving away from religion.

“It’s an absolutely classic example of how society is changing,” he said. “There’s a general, overall change in attitudes to religion.”

“There have been other statistics, particularly the Census, showing a big change. It’s quite natural it would be reflected in the figures for marriage.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935