Marriage rate falls but many still try again

Almost a third of all marriages involve one or both of the wedding couple re-marrying, latest figures show.

The data also reveals that while there has been a gradual decrease in marriages and first marriages since the 1970s, the number of remarriages has stayed largely the same with a slight decrease from the mid-2000s.

The headline grabbing fact from the release of the marriage statistics for England and Wales in 2019 was that marriage rates for opposite-sex couples have fallen to their lowest since 1862.

The figures also revealed the percentage pursuing a second chance of love after the end of a first marriage.

In 2019, 14.7% of weddings were among couples where both partners were remarrying. 17.4%, involved couples where only one partner was previously married.

Number of marriages of opposite-sex couples from 1950-2019 in England and Wales

Opposite-sex couples marrying for the first time are more likely to choose a religious ceremony compared with those who remarry. In 2019, 22.5% of those who were marrying for the first time (both partners) chose a religious ceremony. That compares to 9.0% of those who were remarrying (both partners).

Dr James Tucker, Head of Health and Life Events Analysis for the Office for National Statistics, said: “The number of opposite-sex marriages has fallen by 50% since 1972.

“This decline is a likely consequence of increasing numbers of men and women delaying marriage, or couples choosing to live together rather than marry, either as a precursor to marriage or as an alternative.”

Other findings include:
  • There were 219,850 marriages (opposite and same-sex marriages), a drop of 6.4% on 2018.
  • The median average age at marriage for opposite-sex couples was men 34.3 years and women 32.3 years.
  • For same-sex couples, the average age was slightly higher at 38.1 years for men and 33.8 years for women.
  • Over the last two decades, there has been an 8.5% increase in average age for men and a 9.9% increase for women (31.6 years for men and 29.4 years for women).
  • There were 179,905 marriages (81.8%) registered as civil ceremonies in 2019. Less than one in five (18.2%) were religious ceremonies.
  • Over the last two decades, there has been a 60.4% decrease in opposite-sex religious ceremonies.
  • The most popular day to get married in 2019 was a Saturday. August was the most popular month for both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages.
  • However, the most popular date to get married that year was 27 July with 3,628 marriages taking place.

*Annual marriage statistics are only published around 26 months after the end of the reference year. This is due to delays in the submission of religious marriage entries by the clergy and authorised persons.

→ Archive read: Re-marriage on the rise for the over 50s