The number of couples deciding to marry at a church or another religious building has fallen to an all-time low, according to new official figures. Data released by the British Office for National Statistics shows religious ceremonies now account for less than a quarter of all weddings. Harry Benson, a Christian and research director at the Marriage Foundation said “Low marriage rates show how much we have lost confidence in marriage, and yet marriages are as strong as ever – divorce rates are at their lowest level in 50 years.” Religious weddings accounted for 60,069 of the 249,793 ceremonies recorded in 2016.
While the number of couples opting to marry in a place of worship fell by 4.1% between 2015 and 2016, there was a 1.7% rise in the total number of ceremonies during the same period. The increase is partly down to more people in their 50s and 60s remarrying, as well as the relatively rapid growth in the number of same-sex couples marrying (up 8.1%). The increase in weddings between 2015 and 2016 contrasts a drop in ceremonies during the previous twelve months reported last year. Couples wanting a civil wedding were restricted to using a register office until the Marriage Act 1994 permitted the use of other locations, including hotels, castles and stately homes.
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