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Catholic wedding rate in Ireland falls by nearly five points

Church Wedding

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J-P Mauro - published on 05/14/24

After a surge of weddings that may have been due to the end of the pandemic, religious wedding rates are beginning to fall on the Emerald Isle.

Marriages in Ireland were seen to largely bounce back from the pandemic years, but marriages within the Catholic Church have continued to decline. New data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that while marriage rates are still a bit higher than the pre-pandemic 2019 figures, 2023 saw fewer marriages overall than 2022, with Catholic marriages lagging quite a bit. 

According to the CSO’s data, there were 21,159 weddings in Ireland, in 2023, with 646 of them being same-sex unions. This is a 8.7% decrease in the total number of weddings from 2022, but the report notes that this is still 4.2% higher than the rates seen in 2019. In 2023, Aleteia previously reported that the recent surge in weddings is most likely due to couples having put off their marriages during the pandemic years.

Of the 20,513 marriages that could qualify to take place in the Catholic Church – which the report calls “opposite-sex marriages” – only 7,256 of them did so. This accounts for 35.4% of all weddings in Ireland in 2023, which is a significant decline from 2022, when 40% of all Irish weddings were held in Catholic churches. Of the remaining “opposite-sex marriages,” 6,474 (31.6%) were conducted as civil unions and 1,614 (7.9%) were “Humanist” ceremonies.

While a Catholic wedding is still the most popular choice in Ireland, the continued decline suggests that it could fall below the rates of civil unions in just a few short years. We have already seen a marked decline in the number of Catholic weddings since the pandemic ended (6,721 in 2021, 9,376 in 2022, 7,256 in 2023) and if this trend continues, 2024 could see Irish Catholic wedding rates return to the levels of the pandemic years

The report also found that the age of brides and grooms continued to rise in 2023. Brides are still, on average, a little younger than grooms, but their median age was 35.8 in 2023, up from 35.4 in 2022. The average age of grooms rose at a similar rate, with their 2023 average at 37.7 years old, up from 37.4, in 2022. 

See all the data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, here.

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