Marriage in Ireland still declining despite a bumper 2022

The number of marriages that took place in 2022 saw a significant increase on 2021, but this was mainly due to the postponement of weddings during the Covid pandemic. Overall, the marriage rate in Ireland remains low compared with a few decades ago.

In all, 23,173 marriages were registered last year, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

This is the highest number in Ireland’s history and represents a 14pc increase compared with 2019, the last full year before the pandemic. The marriage rate per thousand adults was 4.4 last year while it was 4.1 in 2019.

What will the rate be next year when all the postponed weddings have already taken place? It is very likely to drop back down again.

In 2012, the rate was 4.5 per 1,000 adults, and in the 1970s, it was 6 or even 7 per thousand.

Today, the marriage rate is around the EU average, and the EU average is at near historic lows.

It is also worth noting that data about divorces for 2022 are not yet available, but there has been a consistent increase in divorce applications in the past four years.

In terms of the type of ceremonies chosen by the couple, last year the most popular form of celebration for opposite-sex spouses was a Catholic ceremony (42pc), followed by a civil ceremony at 26pc.

While the percentage of civil ceremonies hasn’t changed much in the last ten years, from 28pc to 26pc, Catholic ceremonies have seen a sharp decline: in 2012 they were 65pc of marriages.

In 2022, ceremonies conducted by a religious celebrant accounted for 64pc of all marriages, including same-sex unions. Besides the traditional churches, couples have more options nowadays. Only 1.6pc of weddings were celebrated by the three main Protestant denominations combined (Church of Ireland, Methodists, Presbyterians).

Many will be surprised that the Spiritualist Union of Ireland, which is counted among the religious celebrants by the CSO, performed almost 10pc of ceremonies.

9.3pc of couples opted for a Humanistic ceremony, which is considered non-religious.

In 2022, 618 same-sex marriages were celebrated, representing the 2.7pc of the total. This percentage continues to decline.

People are getting married at an older age. In 2022 the average age of grooms was 37.4. Ten years ago the average was 34.7. The average age of brides was 35.4 last year, compared to 32.6 in 2012.

Covid had a detrimental impact on the marriage rates. While the number of marriages registered last year has seen a temporary increase, this rise was mainly due to the weddings postponed during the Covid pandemic. Marriage in Ireland is still declining.