The ONS claims this is partly due to the long-term decline in the overall number of marriages – marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2016 were lower at all ages compared with 2006 – but also the rise in popularity of civil ceremonies.
Since 1992, civil marriages have increasingly outnumbered religious marriages every year.
Kanak Ghosh, from ONS’s vital statistics outputs branch, says: “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.”
The number of same-sex couples who chose to have a civil marriage increased by 3.6 per cent compared with 2015, while those who chose to have a religious marriage declined by 4.2 per cent.
The average age at which couples are choosing to get married is also on the rise. For marriages of opposite-sex couples, the average age for men marrying in 2016 was 37.9 years, while for women it was 35.5 years.
This was a slight increase for both men and women from the previous year and continued the overall rise recorded since the 1970s
The ONS figures also revealed that in the first two years following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK in 2014, just 61 couples married through religious ceremonies.
While the exact reason for church weddings hit all time low is unknown, the rising cost of weddings is likely to be a factor.
Photos by Janet Ridley Photography Original article in the Independent