By Jessica Lawrence
The average age to get married in Ireland is increasing according to new data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In 2021, the average age for men in opposite-sex marriages was 37.4 years, whereas men in same-sex marriages averaged at 40.4 years.
This is up from pre-pandemic levels, with the average age for grooms in opposite-sex marriages being 36.8 in 2019 – an increase of 1.6%. In the same year, the average age of men in same-sex marriages was 39.8, showing a 1.5% increase.
Brides are also waiting longer to get married, with an average age of 35.4 in opposite-sex marriages and 39.9 in same-sex marriages.
This is an increase from 2019, where the average age of a woman in an opposite-sex marriage was 34.8. A woman in a sex-same marriage was 39.3 years old on average.
The number of marriages in 2021 rose by 81% to 17,217 in comparison to 2020. However, levels still have not returned to pre-pandemic levels with a 18% decrease from 2019.
Relationships Ireland counsellor, Tony Moore, says that there are numerous factors which may cause couples to delay their big day.
He said: “The three major reasons are education, employment and money.
“The base line now for many jobs is an honours degree – this can take four years. So, after leaving school many of our younger generation sign up to do their degree.”
Mr Moore says that job-hopping to earn a higher wage will mean that young people are less likely to have money saved.
He also says that money is a large factor in eventually deciding to settle down.
“If our young people do manage to get some job and financial security, they will be in their early 30s before this happens.
“If – and it is a big if – they are in good jobs they may then save not for their house but for the wedding day.
“At that point, they feel they can afford it because they feel secure in their jobs and they are in an optimistic and positive phase of their lives.”
Peter Lunn of the Economic and Social Research Institute said that factors such as co-habitation, the introduction of birth control and expenses also affected numbers.
The figures from CSO also show a decrease in the number of couples opting for a Roman Catholic ceremony in 2021.
The data shows that 40.2% of opposite-sex couples had a Catholic ceremony, down by 3.6% in comparison to 2019.
Over a five-year period, the number of people taking part non-religious ceremonies increased by 6%. Non-religious marriages also accounted for 23% of all marriages in 2021 overall.
Atheist Ireland says that the data shows how modern society in Ireland is turning away from traditional Catholic beliefs.
“[These figures] shows the need for the State to remove the privilege it gives to the Catholic Church in running Irish schools and hospitals, and to Christianity generally in the religious oaths in our Constitution and in our charities and civil registration laws.
“Ireland is no longer a Catholic country. We are now a pluralist country gradually dismantling Catholic privilege in our laws.”
August remained the most popular month for opposite-sex couples to get married, whereas same-sex partners decided to wed in September.
More information about 2021 Marriage statistics can be found at https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-mar/marriages2021/