Only three in ten weddings in church

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A total of 447 marriages were carried out in Jersey during 2017 but the vast majority – 70 per cent – were civil ceremonies.

And although the number of marriages dropped by 27 compared to the year before, Superintendent Registrar Claire Follain, who released the figures, does not believe that it is a sign of a downward trend.

Instead, Ms Follain believes that once the amended marriage law, agreed by the States in February, legalising same-sex marriages and outdoor ceremonies, is introduced, the number of weddings will rise. The amended law, which is yet to be ratified by the Privy Council, also allows people to choose a specific person to marry them, such as a humanist celebrant.

‘The fact that marriages were down does not surprise me,’ Mrs Follain said. ‘Feedback from couples in 2017 was that they were waiting for the amended law to be introduce so they can have the marriage ceremonies they wanted.

‘I anticipate that when the amended law comes into force the number of marriages will increase again. Bookings are high for this year. It is not the beginning of a trend.

‘There is a demand in the Island for outdoor ceremonies, particularly in people’s gardens, or outdoor weddings at traditional venues. I think it has captivated the imagination of the public, as they will have freedom outside traditional weddings.’

According to the Annual Life Event Statement, 88 couples travelled to Jersey to get married last year. Ms Follain said wedding tourism was likely to continue to grow in the future.

‘It has been steadily increasing in the last couple of years due to things such as Brexit and the value of the pound,’ she said. ‘The pound does not go as far as it used to.

‘Jersey is a more popular and affordable venue for British couples. It has beautiful scenery and unusual places to have your pictures taken.

‘Couples are coming to Jersey to get married even if they have no connection to the Island. I can only imagine that will increase when the new laws come into force.’

Ms Follain said that the number of church weddings had remained ‘fairly static’ in recent years and the figures ‘echo’ Guernsey’s statistics.

Last year there were 134 church ceremonies equating to 30 per cent of all marriages. Of these, 96 were Church of England ceremonies, 31 Catholic and the remaining seven occurred in churches of other denominations, such as Methodist, Freedom and Kingdom Hall churches.

However, the most popular venue for marriage ceremonies in Jersey was the Register Office, where 157 ceremonies took place.

Meanwhile, the figures also revealed that last year the number of births were at their lowest, while deaths were at their highest since 2002.

The number of births in 2017 was 949 – 59 fewer than the previous year. In comparison, in 2002 there were 930.

And during 2017 the number of registered deaths was 816, an increase of 51 compared to the previous year. In 2002 the number of registered deaths was 841.

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