Why Get Married? The Changing Face of Marriage In The UK.
Although the number of first marriages in the UK is on the decrease, marriage levels over all have not fallen in fact 2016 and 2017 saw increases.
If our experience at Petite Weddings is representative of the wider community we are seeing more first marriages in older couples, often after many years of living together and often with their children at their intimate wedding ceremony.
In today’s world of equal opportunities, if not yet equal pay, there is far less financial and social pressure to marry, indeed only a couple of generations ago women who “failed” to marry were considered failures. So why is it in such enlightened times is it that ultimately, we are still in love with this ritual called marriage?
Ed Miliband married Justine Thornton, in 2011,after a 6-year relationship. Many commentators questioned why? They had two children together: was this not commitment enough?
Their children were present at the ceremony, typical of many of our Petite Weddings and the latest incarnation of marriage.
In the Middle Ages and before marriage ceremonies were conducted in small communities in front of everyone, who "witnesses" the declarations made between man and wife. This public declaration and witnessing still unpins our marriage ceremonies today. However, by the mid-18th century, if a couple cohabited or had children together, they were regarded as being as good as married. It wasn’t until the Hardwicke Marriage Act in 1753 that marriage became a legal concept and unmarried couples were stigmatised.
After the boom years of the 1960s and 1970s, when matrimony was a rite of passage. With co-habotation being sneered and in many communities socially unexceptable, many couple married in their early twenties just months after meeting. My own parents ( who did go on to divorce) are a prime example marrying in 1967 after a 6 month relationship and a 3 month engagement. As attitudes and personal financial pressures have changed unrecognisably over that 50 year period, marriage has struggling to stay relevant in the same way.
Those who marry nowadays do so because they want to make a public statement (even when they do not have many people at their wedding) of their commitment. But that commitment is being made later and later – after the job, the house and, yes, children.
Social morals are forever evolving – but a desire to make a public declaration to a partner, to create officially a family unit, is deep-seated, and live and well. It’s just happening at a different time in people's lives, and many would say a better time. Marriage later in life arguably create partnerships that are sealed by marriage are more stable, made in possession of life experience and love that has been shaped by a shared past, and therefore more likely to be “until death do us part “ as a result.
And as you can see in this gallery from Paul and Lisa’s recent Petite Wedding at Cosawes Barton, this is not just about dressing up for the day and having a party, these weddings are heartfelt, intimate weddings involving the family and their very closest friends and families.