Research conducted for the Church of England suggests that almost three quarters of unmarried adults under the age of 35 still dream of getting married. The figure is taken from a survey conducted by 9Dot-Research for the C of E’s Life Events team. It would appear to contradict statistics for the actual number of weddings which show a continuing decline in both absolute numbers and in the rate: figures for opposite-sex marriage in 2015 show that there were 21.7 marriages per thousand unmarried men and 19.8 marriages per thousand unmarried women – the lowest rate on record.
The research company surveyed 1,085 unmarried people between the ages of 18 and 35 on 14th and 15th November 2017. Just 07 per cent of this initial sample said that they “had no intention of ever being married”. They were excluded from the latter part of the survey on factors that would influence their wedding plans, giving a sample size of 1,012.
Almost six in 10 (59 per cent) said that they would like to marry at some point. Just over one in 10 (12 per cent) said they were engaged and planning their upcoming nuptials. Significantly, the survey also suggests that millennials – a nickname given to people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century – attach a special importance to church weddings, with more young people preferring to marry in a church or chapel (47 per cent) than a register office or town hall (34 per cent).
Those who would consider a church wedding were asked why it appealed to them from a list of options. Almost a third said that it felt like a “proper” wedding (31 per cent). Marrying before God or receiving a blessing, was also in the top 10 (the seventh most chosen option). Millennials were also strongly drawn to “traditional / conventional” wedding venues (72 per cent).
The research shows that for those considering marriage, almost one in six (17 per cent) said that faith or religion had influenced their wedding ideas. The survey also shows that of those hoping to marry, just under half (43 per cent) had thought about their wedding day by the time they reached 16. Women were more likely to have envisioned their wedding by that age (54 per cent) than men (32 per cent).
“It’s encouraging to see that young people are still thinking and planning for a wedding,” the Revd Dr Sandra Millar, the Church of England’s head of Life Events, said. “Research suggests marriage is seen as the ‘crown’ on a long-term relationship, and despite the fact that many may be delaying or choosing not to marry at all, the idea of a special, beautiful wedding day is still one of life’s big dreams.
“For many, a church wedding is still part of fulfilling that dream, in churches throughout England.”
The Life Events team has been set up to help dioceses and churches minister at key moments in people’s lives. It includes infant and adult baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals and vocations.
Commentators suggest that the wedding of Prince Harry to US actress Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle next month could lead to a short-term increase in the number of weddings taking place in the next couple of years; as young couples respond to the high media profile of the service.