Number of weddings falls to all-time low

Dominion Post 18 June 2011

Marriage rates have fallen so far in the past 40 years that what was once an institution is now largely a symbolic gesture. A record low 20,900 marriages took place last year, less than one-third of the number in 1971 and one half of the 1987 rate, figures from Statistics NZ reveal. And Victoria University anthropology senior lecturer Diane O’Rourke sees no chance of those numbers heading back up again. “People don’t need to get married any more to make a living or raise children. You have to specifically want to be married.” Family lawyer Jacinda Rennie said there was no longer any legal reason to be married and the concept had become largely symbolic. “Historically, if you were to give up work and have children, you were in a better bed if you were married. These days it is not necessary for property reasons as de-facto couples have the same rights after three years together.” Even religious leaders concede that marriage is no longer necessary. The Anglican Centre’s canon theologian, Deborah Broome, said: “You can have a recognised partnership and not be married, you can be in a civil union or be in a de-facto relationship. People are still forming couples, but they are doing it differently. “Living together just wasn’t an option before, whereas now couples are already living together when they decide to commit. People don’t need to get married any more, so those people choosing marriage are doing it quite consciously.”