Average age to get married rises to 38.2, CSO finds

Roman Catholic ceremonies were down while Friday was the most popular day

People in the State are continuing to get married at an older age, according to new data released on Friday.

The average for both same-sex and opposite-sex couple tying the knot in 2021 was 38.2 years, compared to 37.4 in 2018.

Fresh insights published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) also shows that while the number of weddings last year continued to grow, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, there were 17,217 ceremonies, compared to 21,053 in 2018, a difference of 18 per cent.

"While the number of marriages celebrated in 2021 increased by 81 per cent from 2020, it was still down 15 per cent from 2019 when there were 20,313 marriages, reflecting the impact of Covid-19 restrictions," said statistician Gerard Doolan.

However, the long term trend in ageing couples taking their vows is perhaps the most striking.

While there was a marginal reduction in the average age for all couples between last year and 2020, the longer-term pattern is that people are waiting until later in life.

Opposite-sex couples were just over 35 years of age in 2017 (36.1 for men and 34.1 for women), and this has grown to 36.4 last year (37.4 for men and 35.4 for women), an increase of almost 4 per cent over five years.

For same sex partners, the average age grew from 39.5 in 2018 to 40.1, an increase of about 1.5 per cent.

Ceremonies

Roman Catholic ceremonies were the most popular for opposite-sex couples in 2021 (although only marginally at 40 per cent compared to 34 per cent for civil ceremonies), with Friday being the most likely day they would exchange vows, for all couples.

August was the most popular month for opposite-sex couples, while same sex partners waited a little longer in the year, choosing September in preference to other months.

However, despite the continued dominance of Catholic weddings they are shrinking – down from 47.6 per cent in 2018 and 43.6 per cent in 2019.

For same-sex weddings, civil ceremonies were the choice of 328 couples (66 per cent) last year. Humanist options accounted for 13.6 per cent.

“Friday and Saturday continue to be the most popular days to tie the knot for opposite-sex couples, while Friday, followed by Thursday were the most favoured days to wed for same-sex couples,” the CSO said in a statement. “These are unchanged from 2020 results. Sundays and Tuesdays were the least popular days of the week to marry for all couples.”