Over the last month we’ve been working hard deciphering some of the latest marriage stats to come out of Scotland. What we have below is an analysis and breakdown of the above infographic, which brings our speculation, additional statistics and patterns into the fray.
Let’s look at the last 4 years of marriages in Scotland. Here we can see a relative rise in marriages until 2012, before the numbers drop back down to 2009-levels. We could offer plenty of speculation here, but some anecdotal evidence suggests that some couples avoid getting married in the year 2013 due to bad luck!
You may be interested in comparing this section to our 2013 England and Wales infographic! There’s plenty of more detailed speculation reflecting a socio-economic story which also applies to Scotland.
WW1 – You can see that Scotland’s peak in marriages occurs post WW1, in contrast to England and Wales, where there were peaks in marriages both before and after the war. There was a clear trend for loving couples to marry before and after the war years.
Prior to 1939, any citizen was able to witness a marriage in Scotland, and it would be deemed legal (as exemplified by Gretna Green).
The graph above shows a steep peak in marriages in 1939 and 1940. Both the influences of WW2 and the 1939 Marriage Act could be to blame here.
WW2 – Scotland (and indeed the rest of the UK) saw an equal boost of marriages pre and post-World War II. There was a clear motivation to marry both sides of the war, and the stats were boosted thanks to the fact that hundreds of thousands of foreign troops (from places like Canada and the US) were stationed in Britain, resulting in a mass of registered marriages and the subsequent ‘War Brides’.
Next comes a general downward trend in the number of marriages, followed by peaks in 1956, 1968 and 1980.
Marriage-related acts were introduced in 1965 and 1977 in Scotland which roughly coincide with the last two of these peaks.
In the graphic below, we’ve organised the data to give a clear indication of the most popular areas to marry without large numbers of population skewing the results (using number of marriages per 1000 population in each area).
Dumfries and Galloway is by far the most popular area in Scotland to marry.
This is wholly due to the significance of the village of Gretna Green, which hosts the majority of the area’s marriages.
The romantic significance of this unassuming little village, located close to the England/Scotland border, lies in its historic use as destination for ‘runaway’ irregular marriages. Thanks to Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act in 1754, couples could legally marry in the presence of any citizen as a witness. Gretna Green owes this association simply because it was conveniently accessed via the English border.
In terms of number of marriages overall (rather than per capita), Dumfries and Galloway still has the most number of marriages.
Argyll and Bute is a distant second, with 11.21 marriages per 1000 people residing in the area and its popularity might be down to its proximity to the populous cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and its stunning range of lochs, hills, mountains and countryside.
When comparing number of marriages to population to other regions in England and Wales, Scotland is the most popular, with South West England coming in a close second.
This is due to the high frequency of marriages, compared to its overall residing population – which can only suggest that either people travel in from outside the area, or more people get married on average in the country. Gretna Green’s significant contribution to Scotland’s number of marriages is likely to be a culprit.
Humanist and Outdoor marriages are also legally recognised in Scotland, making the country a tempting destination for weddings for those living outside of Scotland.
Predictably, Saturday (45%) is the most popular time of the week to marry, followed by Friday (25%). In comparison to the England and Wales stats, Scotland has a more even spread of marriages on alternative days to Saturday. 25% of marriages in Scotland happen on a Friday, as opposed to England and Wales’ 19% for example.
There could be many reasons for this, with a less conservative attitude towards weddings (and which days they should be held on) being just one.
The months of May through September constitute the peak season in Scotland, with August being the singularly most popular month to wed, at 3,929 (14%) marriages.
The median age which women married in Scotland in 2013 was 32 years old, which is an increase of one year in the median from 2012. The total average brides’ age stopped increasing in 2003.
The age at which men married in 2013 remained at 34 years old, maintaining the trend of the last 7 statistical years since 2006.
Compared to England and Wales’ 2011 statistics (which are still relevant considering Scotland’s average age of marrying has seen little change over the last 7 years), men in Scotland tend to get married 1 year older than England and Wales.
Perhaps the most noticeable part of this graphic is that 51% of marriages in 2013 in Scotland were ‘civil’, which means they were non-religious and hosted by an authorised Registrar.
This is actually a 16% difference to our England and Wales Infographic, demonstrating that Scotland carries out a higher percentage of ‘religious’-type ceremonies.
27% of all marriages in Scotland in 2013 were declared as an ‘other religion’ – quite unusual for a predominantly Christian country when it comes to religion. This is down to the legally recognised status of humanist weddings in Scotland – elsewhere in the UK these forms of ceremonies are not considered as binding by the government.
In 2013 there were 3185 humanist weddings registered with the Humanist Society Scotland. We can expect this figure to rise over the coming years.
State church religious weddings were less popular in Scotland in 2013 than in England and Wales, with Church of Scotland hosting 17% of the country’s marriage ceremonies, and Anglican Churches hosting 24% in England and Wales.
Gretna Green and humanist weddings have significantly affected some of the statistics that we’ve seen from Scotland. There are some subtle differences in the age that grooms marry in Scotland, and in terms of popularity of weddings in recent years, will we be seeing a continuation of the downward trend, or did the superstition of getting married in 2013 just have a temporary influence on what we are seeing? We can only know in 2015.
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