'Tie the knot!': Faith leaders encourage you to get married as figures show decline in weddings

PUBLISHED: 17:31 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:39 04 April 2019

The latest stats show a decline in religious weddings in Redbridge. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

The latest stats show a decline in religious weddings in Redbridge. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Faith leaders in the borough are calling on residents to tie the knot as new figures reveal that marriages - particularly those with religious ceremonies - are on the decline.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last week show a 28per cent decline in marriages in Redbridge between 2011 and 2016 (808) – the most recent data available.

While religious weddings in the borough have decreased by 20pc over the same time period – from 199 in 2011 to 159 in 2016.

The Rev Chris Burrows of St Laurence Church, Donington Avenue, Barkingside, said: “I am more concerned about the decline in marriages in general than in the decline in religious marriages.

“Ultimately what people are turning up to do in the church is to get married – whether it is a civil ceremony or a secular one.” He said that married couples with children are much more likely to stay together than those who are not.

“I do think there is something special about a church wedding because it is done in the presence of God - but then I am biased,” he said.

“I would encourage couples to get married.”

He added that, in spite of this trend, his church has actually seen a small increase in the number of weddings

Rabbi David Hulbert of the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, in Marlborough Road, South Woodford, told the Recorder that any drop in the number of weddings among the borough’s Jewish community could likely be explained by the overall decline in its size.

“Jewish weddings are happening,” he said. “They are just happening in other places.”

He added: “Marriage and the family are part of the central building bricks of the Jewish belief system.

“The problem is people are delaying it for fear of commitment and the finances.”

He said: “If you’re thinking of getting married – don’t think of the ceremony and splashing out £20,000.

“Have a cheap marriage with friends and family – think of the marriage and not the ceremony.”

Religious weddings in Redbridge are less popular than in the rest of the country.

In England, a quarter of marriages were held in religious venues, while in Redbridge it was 20pc.

These figures only include opposite-sex marriages.

Across England and Wales, three in four religious weddings were Anglican, while a further 11pc were Catholic. Non-Christian ceremonies only amounted to 4pc of the total.

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.”

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

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.”

Of the weddings held in Redbridge, only 1.2pc were between same-sex couples – seven between men and three between women.

That’s a 43pc 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.

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