More Derbyshire couples getting married in non-religious venues

A record low number of couples in Derbyshire are getting married in a religious venue, new figures reveal.

Humanists UK, Britain’s largest humanist group, said a national decline reflected couples increasingly wanting a ceremony that matches with their non-religious beliefs.

In Derbyshire, 947 weddings were conducted in a church, synagogue or other religious venue in 2017, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

That means just 26 per cent of ceremonies in the county were religious – the lowest rate since records began in 2001.

More couples want their big day in a non-religious venue

That is down from the highest rate, 40 per cent, in 2001.

The figures, which only include opposite-sex couples, show less than a quarter of weddings across England and Wales were religious in 2017.

Humanists UK said they already perform more than 1,000 non-legally recognised humanist wedding ceremonies each year in England and Wales.

Andrew Copson, Humanists UK’s chief executive, said: "The vast majority of people in England and Wales identify as non-religious and this is growing each year with no sign of changing so it's not surprising that couples don't look to religion to celebrate the most meaningful moments in their lives any more.

"Instead they want non-religious ceremonies that reflect their beliefs, their values, and their love."

Across England, the number of marriages has remained steady over the last five years.

Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said a church wedding was a unique occasion where time-honoured vows were exchanged in a ‘special and spiritual atmosphere’.

He said: "We know from research that many couples want this for their wedding day, whether they are regular churchgoers or not.

"I would like to reassure couples that they don’t have to be christened or confirmed, and we welcome couples who already have children – just ask."

The same ONS figures show 1.8 per cent of weddings held in Nottinghamshire were between same-sex couples – 25 between men and 42 between women.

That puts Derbyshire below the average across England and Wales, where a record 2.9 per cent of weddings involved same-sex couples in 2017.

Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said: "While there’s still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people is truly equal and many same-sex couples across the world aren’t able to marry, this news is a hopeful sign of more good things to come."