Latest E&W marriage data

ONS marriage data for 2015

Today, 28 February, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published  Marriages in England and Wales: 2015, the latest data on the number of marriages that took place in England and Wales analysed by age, sex, previous marital status and civil or religious ceremony. The main points are:

  • There were 239,020 marriages between opposite-sex couples in 2015, a decrease of 3.4% from 2014 when there 247,372 marriages, and 0.8% lower than in 2013.
  • Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2015 were the lowest on record, with 21.7 marriages per thousand unmarried men and 19.8 marriages per thousand unmarried women.
  • Compared with 2005, marriage rates for opposite-sex couples marrying in 2015 were lower at all ages, except for men aged 65 and over and women aged 55 and over where marriage rates increased.
  • In 2015 there were 6,493 marriages between same-sex couples, 56% were between female couples; a further 9,156 same-sex couples converted their civil partnership into a marriage.
  • In 2015, civil ceremonies among opposite-sex couples decreased by 1.6%, while religious ceremonies decreased by 8.0% compared with 2014.
  • Same-sex couples mostly solemnised their marriages in civil ceremonies; there were only 44 religious ceremonies accounting for 0.7% of all marriages of same-sex couples.
  • In 2015, of all individuals marrying a same-sex partner, 85% were forming their first legally recognised partnership compared with 76% for opposite-sex couples.

Section 6 of the data indicates the religious ceremonies continued to decline in popularity:

  • Religious ceremonies accounted for 26% of marriages between opposite-sex couples and 0.7% of marriages between same-sex couples in 2015. Only 44 same-sex couples married through religious ceremonies in 2015; not all religious organisations conduct marriages of same-sex couples.
  • The percentage of opposite-sex couples marrying through religious ceremonies has decreased steadily over time. In 1900, religious ceremonies accounted for 85% of all marriages, by 1980 this had fallen to 50%. Since 1992, civil marriages have increasingly outnumbered religious marriages every year.
  • Most civil marriages take place in approved premises (buildings such as hotels, historic buildings and stately homes licensed for civil marriages); in 2015, of all civil marriages, 89% of opposite-sex couples and 88% of same sex couples married in approved premises. Civil marriages not held in approved premises are conducted in a register office.
  • There has been a continual increase in the percentage of opposite-sex couples marrying in approved premises, coinciding with a rise in the number of approved premises available since their introduction in 1995.

The complete statistical bulletin may be downloaded here. Also available are:

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Latest E&W marriage data" in Law & Religion UK, 28 February 2018,

Leave a Reply