Age-old adages left on shelf as couples tie the knot later
THAT condescending old expression "left on the shelf" doesn't mean much these days as we are choosing to tie the knot later and later in life, new figures show.
Women and men who would once have been termed spinsters and confirmed bachelors are walking up the aisle well into their 30s and 40s, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has confirmed.
The average age of grooms is almost 33-and-a-half while women are waiting until they are about 31 years of age before taking the plunge.
The latest statistics from the CSO, which cover marriages in 2007, reveal the old-fashioned institution of marriage is just as popular as it was a decade ago.
However, the registry office is gaining ground on the church as the place to exchange vows.
More than 5,000 couples chose to formalise their union through a civil ceremony in 2007, compared with just 928 in 1996.
And Roman Catholic ceremonies, which accounted for 90pc of all marriages in 1996, were the preferred option for 74pc of couples in 2007.
If you are hoping to get married on a Friday or Saturday in August, expect to have difficulties securing a booking as they are the most popular days and the most sought-after month for weddings.
On the other hand, opt for a Sunday in January and you will have your choice of venue -- just 1pc of couples got married on a Sunday and only 3pc in January.
Almost one-in-four couples chose a civil service (23pc) compared with just 6pc a decade earlier. The CSO said "a contributing factor to the increase was the legislation for divorce in 1997".
Civil ceremonies are the union of choice for older grooms (over 45) and brides (over 40) and are more popular in Dublin (more than 30pc of marriages) than in rural counties in the midlands and the west.
Also in keeping with tradition, the groom tends to be older than his bride (in 63pc of cases), with about one-in-four men taking an older spouse.
However, in the case of grooms under 25, almost half (49pc) married an older woman.
Most of those exchanging vows are doing it for the first time (92.7pc of men and 93.7pc of women), together with a small number of divorcees (1,486 grooms and 1,283 brides) and an even smaller number of widowers (175) and widows (154).
There is a slight increase in our tendency to marry local people, with a high proportion of those getting married hailing from the same county.
But for some unknown reason, the people of Roscommon are less prone to do so. Only 64pc of Roscommon grooms married brides living in the county and less than 64pc of Roscommon brides picked county men as their partners.