Number of religious marriages fall, but Devon still has more than the rest of the country

Popularity of religious marriages falling in Devon, figures reveal. Picture: Radar

Popularity of religious marriages falling in Devon, figures reveal. Picture: Radar - Credit: Archant

Fewer couples are choosing to tie the knot in a church, synagogue or other religious venue in Devon, new figures have revealed.

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A total of 4,850 couples got married in Devon in 2016, 13 per cent more than in 2011.

In Devon, there were 1,286 religious weddings in 2016, compared with 1,549 five years earlier, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data. That’s a drop of 17 per cent since 2011.

Of the weddings held in Devon, only 2.6 per cent were between same-sex couples – 43 between men and 83 between women. That’s a 7 per cent increase compared with 2015, the first year same-sex marriages were recorded. The data does not include same-sex civil partnerships which were converted into a marriages.

Despite the downward trend, religious weddings are more popular in Devon than the rest of the country.

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Across England, the number of marriage has remained steady over the last five years, with 236,238 in 2016.

For the first time ever, less than a quarter of marriages in England and Wales were religious ceremonies.

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In England, a quarter of marriages were held in religious venues, compared to 27 per cent in Devon. These figures only include opposite-sex marriages.

Across England and Wales, three in four religious weddings were Anglican, while a further 11 per cent were Catholic. Non-Christian ceremonies only amounted to four per cent of the total.

The Canon Sandra Millar, who heads the Church of England’s work on weddings, says many couples might think they have to be regular parishioners to get married in a church.

She said: “We want to reassure couples that they don’t have to be churchgoers to have a church wedding.

“They don’t need to be christened, and we welcome couples who already have children.

“We’re working hard to encourage couples to ‘just ask’ at a church about getting married and all the creative possibilities that there are for their service.”

Kanak Ghosh, from the ONS, said: “Marriage rates remain at historical lows despite a small increase in the number of people who got married in 2016.

“Most couples are preferring to do so with a civil ceremony and for the first time ever, less than a quarter of everyone who married had a religious ceremony.

“Meanwhile, the age at which people are marrying continues to hit new highs as more and more over 50s get married.”

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