Marriage Report 2017

Last updated: 5th Oct 2023

The UK’s divorce rate is at its lowest level for nearly 50 years. Couples now enter marriage knowing their partner and relationship better than ever before leading to marriages becoming increasingly strong and lasting.


Wedding planning app and website has surveyed 4,000 recently married couples and discovered a change in this generation’s perception of marriage: 


Results show that couples are getting married considerably older than the last generation (average bride or groom is 8 years older than in the 1970s) and the majority already live together (89% of couples). They have long relationships before marrying (4.9 years on average) and have had previous serious relationships before ‘finding the one’ (2 previous serious relationships on average). Marriage has become a consensual independent decision free from external pressure (84% discussed marriage before the proposal, 83% felt no pressure to marry) – it is an ‘opt in’ personal choice. The number of weddings has started to rise (2.7% annual growth in latest figures) after a steady and dramatic decline in the past 50 years and the number of divorces is at its lowest level since 1971 as people are more secure in their relationships prior to marriage than ever before. Commitment as a concept has become refreshingly relaxed in comparison to previous generations.



  • The average age of a single woman getting married in 1971 was 22.6 years old, now it is 30.8 years old.
  • The average age of a single man getting married in 1971 was 24.6 years old, now it is 32.7 years old.
  • The average couple were in a relationship for 4.9 years before getting married. This breaks down as –
  • Dated for 1.4 years (17 months) before moving in together.
  • Then lived together for 1.83 years (22 months) before getting engaged.
  • Then were engaged for 1.67 years (20 months) before getting married.
  • The total average time living together before marriage totals to a whole 3.5 years.
  • The average number of serious relationships each member of the couple had before marriage = 2.



– 95% of couples would recommend getting married.

– 91% of couples choose to get married to demonstrate commitment. Only 2% due to social pressure, 2% financial, 2% convenience.

– 85% of couples say marriage makes a relationship stronger.

– 83% never felt any pressure to get married. 92% feel there is less pressure to get married today than parents’ generation.

– 73% stated that they value marriage more now than they did as a child.



– Whilst 41% of couples got married in a church, 52% of couples claim to be “Not at all religious”.

– Only 8% of couples cited religious reasons as one of the primary reasons for getting married (91% cited demonstration of commitment, 30% cited planning to have children).

– 57% of couples who chose to get married in a church chose due to “Sticking to traditions” and 22% due to “Parental expectations”.



– 80% feel that since getting married the level of commitment has increased (3% decreased).

– 60% feel that since getting married the level of happiness has increased (5% decreased).

– 57% feel that since getting married the level of trust has increased (4% decreased).

– 56% feel that since getting married the level of love has increased (4% decreased).

– 41% feel that since getting married they share a better mental wellbeing (4% worse).

– 33% feel that since getting married they have a better sexual relationship (11% worse).


Key findings: OTHER

– 46% of couples have a child within 2 years of getting married.

– 26% of couples hadn’t broken up in their relationship before marrying.

– 82% would consider marriage counselling if the need arose.

– 83% don’t believe you have to be married before having kids.

73% of third marriages in USA end in divorce.

Hamish Shephard, founder of,  says:

“It is fantastic to see how the marriage is evolving with today’s modern couples for the positive. Marriages are becoming stronger than ever, relationships happier and more committed than ever, and couples more independent and consensual in their decisions than ever.”

“Whilst living together before getting married, having serious relationships out of wedlock, or getting married when you are older were previously frowned upon, for the modern couple these can clearly be very positive steps to finding “the one” and having a fantastic long-lasting marriage”.

“Weddings are now focused on the celebration of a couples’ life-long commitment to one another, rather than the start of a new life together, and hence have become bigger and bigger occasions.”

“We have reached a tipping point where the divorce rate will likely be on the decline for the foreseeable future as marriage increasingly becomes the fully informed independent choice of couples wishing to demonstrate their commitment to one another without the pressure seen in previous generations.”


For further information, interviews and images please contact Harriet or Sarah-Jane at Harriet Hunt Communications

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