New Marriage Statistics Released April 2020
The latest statistics from the government have been released. They cover marriages in England and Wales during 2017.
Here are the key figures relevant to wedding businesses, followed by expert advice on what they, and the current situation relating to coronavirus, may mean to your wedding business.
Key Figures: Opposite-sex marriages
242,842 marriages took place in 2017. This shows a decrease of 2.8% from the previous year.
Marriages for opposite-sex couples were the lowest on record.
The average age of couples marrying was 38 for men and 35.7 for women.
Less than a quarter of marriages were religious ceremonies, again the lowest number recorded.
88% of opposite-sex couples lived together before getting married in 2017
In the past 10 years, marriage rates for those aged under 20 have decreased by 57% for men and 62% for women
Marriage rates for those 65 and over have increased; 31% for men and 89% for women.
More than three-quarters of men (76%) and women (77%) married for the first time in 2017.
From the experts
Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples are now at the lowest level on record. This continues a gradual long-term decline seen since the early 1970s, with numbers falling by a third over the past 40 years.
Key Figures: Same-sex marriages
There were 6,932 same-sex marriages in 2017. This is a small decrease from 7,019 in 2016.
56% of same-sex marriages were between females.
For 89% of men and 81% of women in 2017, their marriage was their first legally recognised relationship.
1,072 same-sex couples converted an existing civil partnership into a marriage.
Since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was introduced, same-sex couples already in a civil partnership can choose to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.
1,072 same-sex couples who converted their existing civil partnership into a marriage in 2017, a 36% decrease from 2016. As this option was introduced at the end of 2014, most couples would have made the decision as soon as it was an option, with most conversions taking place over the following 2 years, in 2015 and 2016.
Most popular dates to get married in 2017
The most popular date to get married in 2017 was 2nd September. 4,370 weddings took place on that day.
The least popular was Christmas Day with just 3 weddings.
Half of all marriages took place on a Saturday.
74% of religious marriages were on a Saturday
43% of all civil ceremonies were on a Saturday
Most popular dates to get married over the past 20 years
Over the last 20 years the most popular date has been 28 August, with an average of 1,523 weddings.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day were the least popular days, partly because most registration offices and approved premises are closed.
August was consistently the most popular month for marriage with an average of 1,281 weddings per day.
7 of the top 10 most popular dates to get married throughout the year were in August.
Expert Opinion on the Latest Marriage Statistics
Alison Hargreaves has been following wedding statistics since launching Guides for Brides in 1995, through two economic dips and the introduction of civil ceremonies and civil partnerships.
“This 2.8% drop in marriage rates was not a surprise. We expect to see further drops on a similar curve. As weddings have become more visible through the use of social media, couples are waiting longer in order to plan and afford their picture-perfect wedding.
Our study of couples affected by coronavirus cancellations demonstrated that those planning a 2020 wedding had a very strong and active desire to get married. Couples are not responding to social pressure or marrying simply because it is the norm. It is acceptable for them to co-habit, with 90% of those opting for a civil ceremony, living together before marriage.
Effects of coronavirus on weddings
Demand for venues and suppliers will increase dramatically in the latter part of 2020 and throughout 2021, with between 33% and 64% of 2020 weddings being postponed. That is potentially over 153,000 extra weddings to fit in around existing bookings. This will drive up prices for any services with a limited date inventory; venues, photographers, celebrants, toastmasters etc. and open the market to new businesses to meet the demand.
This boom will be significant but short lived; all couples we have spoken to want to be married within 12 months of their original date. Established businesses with aggressive marketing strategies in place from April to August 2020 will see the most significant benefit. This will also leave them in the best financial position to compete with new entrants in the market.
The government’s support package, grants and interest free loans, favour the hospitality industry. Furloughing and payment holidays where needed from sites such as Guides for Brides have enabled established businesses to reduce costs, further increasing their competitive advantage.
From September 2021, the number of weddings will have returned to normal levels, leaving an excess of suppliers to serve the market. This is the point at which vulnerable businesses, particularly new entrants without the resources to market themselves effectively, may fail. This is a full 12 months after the rest of the economy feels the economic impact of coronavirus.
Effects on destination weddings
Uncertainty over travel following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York had a dramatic affect on destination weddings, decimating the market from an estimated 30% of UK weddings to a handful. It took 15 years for that market to fully recover confidence, with the biggest increases in destination weddings over the past 4 years. Sadly, although overseas destinations will still be a consideration for smaller weddings, over the next 2 years the risks involved in organising a large destination wedding may be too significant for most couples.
Effects of predicted economic downturn
We are anticipating an economic downturn following coronavirus. In the past, this has not negatively impacted on the number of weddings taking place and any affect is delayed due to the long planning process which will already have started for 2020 and 2021 weddings. Periods of financial instability can lead to an increase in competition amongst venues, with those usually reliant on conferences and corporate income turning instead to the more stable wedding market as a secondary income source.
Based on our previous data, however, it will affect the typical spend for some weddings with the couple being sensitive to the feelings of family and friends adversely effected by the downturn.
In the past we have seen that in times of national difficulty, weddings are an important ‘anchor” to all that is familiar, bringing family and friends together to celebrate.
The wedding industry has responded well to the current situation, balancing reputation with revenue protection, and is very strongly positioned to adjust to changes in the market, if they do occur.”