The change in law allowing couples to marry in hotels, castles and stately homes, had dramatic affect, research finds
Only one in three people now marry in a church after the law was changed to allow weddings in castles and stately homes, according to research.
The Marriage Act 1994 allowed a wide variety of premises to be used by local authorities for civil ceremonies, allowing couples to marry in hotels, castles, stately homes or sports and leisure centres.
The changes also meant couples were no longer restricted to holding their ceremony at a local register office and allowed them to marry outside their district of residence.
As a result, just 30 per cent of all weddings that took place in 2012 were religious ceremonies – the smallest proportion since records began.
John Haskey, an Oxford University demographer, said the rapid rise of marriages in so called “approved premises” was one of most dramatic changes of the last 170 years.
Mr Haskey, who has analysed data to chart the history of marriage since early Victorian times, said both church weddings and local register office weddings had dropped significantly since the introduction of the Act.
“The growth in marriages in Approved Premises has largely been at the expense of religious marriages – and also, to some extent, of Register Office marriages,” he said.
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