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Couples race to altar in welcome back to weddings

Love was in the air in 2009 with a 33pc leap in the number of marriages.

Couples rushed to get hitched despite the economic turmoil of the past 18 months.

The latest figures from the General Registry Office revealed that 20,553 couples tied the knot in 2009 compared with 15,223 in 2008.

The dramatic rise in the popularity of civil ceremonies was illustrated by the fact that over 6,000 couples had civil ceremonies last year compared with less than 1,000 in 1996.

With 30pc of all ceremonies now taking place in a non-church setting, the latest conundrum for couples has been choosing a suitable venue.

This year saw wedding ceremonies conducted at Dublin Zoo, City Hall and stately homes throughout the country.

Celebs who took the plunge in 2009 included TV pundit Eamon Dunphy and Jane Gogan, celebrity couple Andrea Corr and Brett Desmond and Grand Slam rugby star Donncha O'Callaghan and his long-time girlfriend Jenny Harte.

Figures show an extraordinary increase in the number of couples getting married in traditional church ceremonies -- 14,536 couples compared with 9,845 in 2008.

Further law changes in 2008 meant that minority religions also got to host weddings for the first time. The religious groups include the Soul Winning Pentecostal Ministries, the Bride Christian Fellowship, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries and the Shanganagh Bible Church.

Minority religions like Buddhists, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses were also only recently given the right to host legally recognised wedding services in their places of worship.

Leading marriage experts have attributed the marriage boom to less red tape and the bedding in of new regulations rather than any trends relating to the economic downturn.