Important points about marriages data:
- marriage statistics are derived from information recorded when marriages are registered as part of civil registration, a legal requirement
- figures represent civil and religious marriages that take place in England and Wales only
- marriages to residents of England and Wales that took place abroad are not included
- the first release provides final statistics, prior to 2013 data the first release provided provisional figures
- statistics available include marriages by sex, age, previous marital status, day and month of occurrence, type of ceremony (civil or religious) and area of occurrence
Annual marriage statistics are published just over 2 years after the end of the data year. Methods and classifications for marriage statistics have remained similar for many years and time series data are available on a comparable basis back to 1837 in some tables.
Our User Guide to Marriage Statistics provides further information on methods, legislation and data quality relating to marriage statistics.
Each year, a certain number of marriage entries are received too late to be included in the annual dataset, mainly due to a delay in register offices submitting quarterly certified copies. Most of this delay is attributable to the clergy or authorised persons who should provide quarterly returns of marriage entries to register offices. Since 2006, the difference between the number of marriages stored on our database and included in our publications has been 0.4% or less annually (a shortfall of between 700 and 900 records a year: Table 1 User Guide to Marriage Statistics). This is a compromise which must be taken in order to publish timely data.
The registration of marriage is a service carried out by the Local Registration Service in partnership with the General Register Office (GRO). Legally, a marriage is solemnised in either a civil or religious ceremony and is recorded in a register. Marriages registrations have been recorded on the Registration Online system (RON) since January 2011. Civil marriages are entered onto RON by registrars, while religious marriages are collated by registrars before being sent to GRO where they are entered onto RON.
We use marriage statistics to report on social and demographic trends and perform further analyses. Other government departments use our statistics to inform policy making and monitor the impact of new legislation. External organisations, such as Eurostat and the United Nations Statistics Division and those in the voluntary sector, also use marriage statistics.
Annual marriage statistics for the UK and its constituent countries can be found in the Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables.