Record low proportion of Leeds weddings being held in religious venues

A record low proportion of couples in Leeds are choosing to get married in a religious venue, new figures reveal.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The UK's largest humanist group said a national decline reflected couples increasingly wanting a ceremony that matches with their non-religious beliefs.

In Leeds, ​507 weddings were conducted in a church, synagogue or other religious venue in 2017, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That means just 23% of ceremonies were religious – the lowest rate since records began in 2001.

That is down from the highest rate, 41%, in 2001.

The figures, which only include opposite-sex couples, show less than a quarter (23%) of weddings across England and Wales were religious in 2017.

Humanists UK said they already perform more than 1,000 non-legally recognised humanist wedding ceremonies each year in England and Wales.

Chief executive Andrew Copson said: "The vast majority of people in England and Wales identify as non-religious and this is growing each year with no sign of changing so it's not surprising that couples don't look to religion to celebrate the most meaningful moments in their lives any more.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Instead they want non-religious ceremonies that reflect their beliefs, their values, and their love."

Read More
'Thank God we called 999': Leeds mum's urgent warning as five-year-old son battl...

Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said a church wedding is a unique occasion where time-honoured vows are exchanged in a "special and spiritual atmosphere".

He said: "We know from research that many couples want this for their wedding day, whether they are regular churchgoers or not.

"I would like to reassure couples that they don’t have to be christened or confirmed, and we welcome couples who already have children – just ask."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The same ONS figures show 3.8% of weddings held in Leeds were between same-sex couples – 41 between men and 46 between women.

It means the area is above the average across England and Wales, where a record 2.9% of weddings involved same-sex couples in 2017.

Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said: "While there’s still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people is truly equal and many same-sex couples across the world aren’t able to marry, this news is a hopeful sign of more good things to come."