Marriages among opposite-sex couples fall to a record low

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A couple on their wedding dayImage source, Getty Images

The number of men and women marrying each other has fallen to its lowest level on record, official statistics show.

A total of 235,910 opposite-sex marriages were registered in England and Wales in 2017- a decrease of 2.8% compared with 2016.

The number has fallen by 45% since 1972, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Overall, there were 242,842 marriages during 2017 - 2.8% less than 2016.

Kanak Ghosh, from the ONS, said: "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."

In 2017, there were 21.2 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men and 19.5 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women aged 16 years and over.

The average age at which opposite-sex couples got married was 38 for men and 35 for women.

In 2017, there were 6,932 marriages of same-sex couples of which 56% were between female couples and 44% between two men.

A further 1,072 couples converted their existing civil partnership into a marriage, according to the ONS.

The figures also show less than a quarter (22%) of all marriages in 2017 were religious ceremonies - the lowest percentage on record.

Civil marriages have outnumbered religious marriages every year since 1992.