IRISH couples are taking their time to walk down the aisle as they say "I do" later in life.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the average age of a bride, which has been rising steadily in recent years, now stands at 32. Grooms have an average age of 34.
Meanwhile, the marriage rate is falling and is now at its lowest level since 1998 as many couples opt to live together instead. Nevertheless, 20,594 couples took the plunge in 2010, although this was down from 21,627 a year earlier.
But while it was a case of wedded bliss for these couples, the same year also saw 3,113 divorces granted by the courts. This was down 7pc from the previous year.
And, despite our unpredictable weather, summer continues to be the most popular time to get married, with almost two-fifths of all weddings in 2010 taking place in June, July and August.
July was the busiest month for florists and hoteliers, with 13pc of all weddings take place that month – including the star-studded nuptials of Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman who tied the knot in what was described as "wedding of the year" on July 2 in Aughavas, Co Leitrim.
However, it was Saturday, July 31, that was the most popular day of 2010 for weddings, with 257 couples – or 1pc of all the year's weddings – happening on the day.
The CSO used marriage registration forms from 2010 to compile the statistics, which also give a breakdown of the local authority area in which the bride and groom live. While it does not reveal whether they were living together before marrying, it found that the majority of couples kept it local.
Over 93pc of grooms living in Co Donegal married women from the same county, while 91pc of brides living in Wexford married a man from the same area. At the other end of the spectrum, only 73pc of Roscommon grooms married a local lady, while only 75pc of Longford brides tied the knot with a man from the area.
The majority of marriages registered were Roman Catholic ones (67pc), followed by civil marriages (29pc) and Church of Ireland ceremonies (2pc).
The remaining marriages were made up of Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish and other ceremonies.
Muslim marriage ceremonies were not included as there is, as yet, no provision for their civil registration.
The percentage of couples opting for a civil marriage ceremony remained unchanged at 29pc, with just under 6,000 couples choosing this option.
Civil ceremonies were most popular among Dubliners where two-fifths got hitched this way, compared to just a fifth in the border region.
Some 88pc of marriages in 2010 were "first-time marriages" in which both the bride and the groom were walking down the aisle for the first time.
There were 2,226 marriages involving at least one divorced person, including 414 marriages where both parties were divorced.