Fewer couples are choosing to tie the knot in a church, synagogue or other religious venue in Lancashire.
For the first time ever, across England and Wales, less than a quarter of marriages were religious ceremonies.
In Lancashire, there were 1,515 religious weddings in 2016, compared with 1,868 five years earlier, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data. That’s a drop of 19 per cent since 2011.
Despite the downward trend, religious weddings are more popular in Lancashire than the rest of the country.In England, a quarter of marriages were held in religious venues, while in Lancashire the proportion was 29 per cent. These figures only include opposite-sex marriages.
Across England and Wales, three in four religious weddings were Anglican, while a further 11 per cent were Catholic. Non-Christian ceremonies only amounted to four per cent of the total.
The 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.”
In 2016, 5,364 couples got married in Lancashire , six per cent more than in 2011. Across England, the number of marriages has remained steady over the last five years, with 236,238 in 2016.
Kanak Ghosh, from the Office of National Statistics, 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 Lancashire, only 2.1 per cent were between same-sex couples – 29 between men and 83 between women. That’s in line 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.