Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland marriage rate tumbles by nearly 7%

The number of marriages in Northern Ireland took a big tumble in 2009, new statistics have revealed.

And marriage rates in England and Wales are at their lowest since records began, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

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 just 7,931 in 2009.

The number of marriages registered in Northern Ireland in 2008 was 8,500, a small decrease on the 8,700 registered in 2007.

An ONS spokeswoman said the falling marriage rate could be attributed to a rise |in people cohabiting rather than getting married and |an increase in the number of people delaying marriage to follow other goals.

”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 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.

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