Marriage rates in England and Wales are at their lowest since records began, new statistics show.
Just 21.3 out of every 1,000 males aged 16 plus were married in 2009, down from a rate of 22.0 in 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The proportion of women aged 16 plus who were married fell from 19.9 in 2008 to 19.2 in 2009.
The rates were the lowest since calculations of rates began in 1862.
Some 231,490 marriages were registered in England and Wales in 2009 - the lowest since 1895 when 228,204 were recorded, according to the provisional figures.
The ONS said 266,950 weddings were recorded throughout the UK in 2009, reflecting a downward trend after a peak of 480,285 ceremonies in 1972.
Marriages in Scotland fell 4.8% from 28,903 in 2008 to 27,524 in 2009 and in Northern Ireland the number of marriages decreased by 6.8% to 7,931 in 2009.
The ONS said the latest data is provisional as it is estimated a further 1% of marriage returns from 2009 are yet to be received but it is expected the final figures for England and Wales will remain slightly below the final 2008 figure of 235,794.
The ONS said more than a third (35%) of marriages in 2009 were remarriages for one or both partners, down from 41% in 1999.
Civil ceremonies accounted for two-thirds (67%) of all ceremonies in 2009, up from 62% from 1999.
The ONS said the rise coincided with an increase in the number of premises licensed for weddings.
Jenny North, head of public policy at the relationship support group Relate, said: "A continued fall in marriage rates and numbers is no great shock to Relate, but it is worrying.
"Research shows us that the aspiration to marry is still high amongst the younger generation of the UK, but fewer and fewer are fulfilling that aspiration.
"Of course marriage is not the only option for long-term relationships. But there is evidence that couples are setting themselves a 'to do' list before getting married - perhaps buying a house, getting the perfect job or buying the dream car.
"As money gets tighter, these things get harder to achieve, and we could see less couples tying the knot as a result."
An ONS spokeswoman said the falling marriage rate can be attributed to a rise in people cohabiting rather than getting married and an increase in the number of people delaying marriage.
"The number of people available to marry, the unmarried population aged 16 and over, has been increasing over the last few decades, so this is not the reason for the drop in marriages in 2009," she said.
"In contrast, there has been a long-term decline in the marriage rate since the early 1970s and this is the driver of the fall in the number of marriages in 2009."
The new statistics follow last month's publication of ONS figures showing a decline in divorce rates in England and Wales for the sixth consecutive year.
The number of divorces in England and Wales in 2009 was 113,949, a 6.4% decrease on 2008 when there were 121,708, and the lowest since 1974.Reuse content