15,000 couples have wed since same-sex marriage became legal
More than 15,000 gay and lesbian couples have wed since same-sex marriage became legal, new figures reveal.
There were 7,366 ceremonies in which those not already in a civil partnership tied the knot in the 1 5 months after the law was introduced in March last year.
Of those, 55% were between female couples and 45% male, the official data showed.
In addition, there were 7,732 couples who chose to convert an existing civil partnership into a marriage between December, when they could first do so, and June.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced in England and Wales on March 29 last year, with the first ceremonies taking place moments after midnight.
Figures covering the period from that date until the end of June this year were published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
They showed that the number of same-sex marriages peaked at 844 in August last year.
"Historically the most popular time for marriages to take place is during the summer months, with ceremonies being less popular in winter," the ONS said.
"Marriages of same-sex couples are following this seasonal pattern."
The majority of those who wed a partner of the same gender had never been married or in a civil partnership before.
However, just over 14% of women and 8% of men had been divorced.
The ONS said: "The majority, if not all of these previous marriages, will have been with a partner of the opposite sex."
The average age at marriage for same-sex couples was 40 years for men compared with 37 years for women.
The figures also showed that fewer couples are entering into civil partnerships since the law was brought in .
Gianna Lisiecki-Cunane, a family lawyer with JMW Solicitors, said: "Even though it might seem to be a stereotype, more female same-sex couples than males are opting for the greater commitment which marriage is taken to represent.
"However, the history of civil partnerships makes clear that women are also more likely than men to end those relationships which aren't working out."
She added that the appeal of converting existing civil partnerships into same-sex marriages might be wearing off.
"Just as with the introduction of the partnerships themselves, there was an initial rush of individuals wanting to change the status of their relationships," Ms Lisiecki-Cunane said.
"However, the numbers of people doing so has dropped markedly since the chance of conversions came into force last December.
"It may well be that gay couples wanting to formalise their relationships will simply opt for marriage which brings into question the continuing validity of civil partnerships as they might be regarded as a second-class system. "