New statistics paint a picture of a society postponing marriage and parenthood to later in life. Kurt Sansone looks at the latest trends among those tying the knot.

If you are a woman and got married in 2001 it is very likely that you were in your 20s when you walked down the aisle.

In that year, 44 per cent of brides were aged between 20 and 24, while 34 per cent were between 25 and 29.

But roll forward a few years to 2015 when 40 per cent of brides were between 25 and 29 years old, 23.2 per cent were between the ages of 30 and 34 and a further 10.8 per cent were between 20 and 24 years of age.  

Data by the National Statistics Office confirmed the pattern that has been developing over the years: of people getting married at an older age. 

This upward shift in the marriage age mimics the pattern witnessed in the age at which women are having babies. 

While in 2001 the largest group of babies was born to women aged between 25 and 29 (39 per cent), 13 years later the largest cohort was born to women aged between 30 and 34 (34 per cent).

More significantly, while only nine per cent of women who had babies in 2001 were aged between 35 and 39, more than a decade later this had nearly doubled to 16 per cent.

However, delaying marriage and parenthood is not just a female phenomenon.

The figures showed that the number of men who tied the knot between the ages of 30 and 34 doubled between 2001 and 2014.

While at the turn of the millennium, 15 per cent of grooms were in the early 30s, this shot up to 31 per cent in 2014. Last year, 30.6 per cent of grooms were between the ages of 25 and 29 while a further 29.3 per cent were aged between 30 and 34.

The upward movement was more pronounced in the late 30s category. While in 2001 only seven per cent of grooms were aged between 35 and 39, this cohort ranked the third highest in 2014, at 12 per cent.

The age of fatherhood also shifted upwards, albeit at a less marked difference than that of women.

Thirty per cent of babies born in 2001 had fathers aged between 25 and 29. This figure dropped to 20 per cent in 2014.

More significantly, while 15 per cent of babies born in 2001 had fathers aged between 35 and 39, this figure increased to 22 per cent 13 years later.

Grey weddings

Taking a vow of undying love between the ages of 16 and 19 is not everyone’s cup of tea but in 2014, a total of 22 women and one man decided to be joined in matrimony early in life.

However, while these figures may come as a surprise to many, they represent a drastic reduction when compared to the situation at the turn of the millennium. Back in 2001, 148 women and 31 men were aged between 16 and 19 when they said ‘I do’ to their partners.

However, another significant shift in marriage patterns can be witnessed among the elderly. While 22 men and 13 women aged 60 and over got married in 2001, these figures almost quadrupled for males and more than doubled for females 13 years later.

In 2014 there were 84 men and 32 women aged 60 and over who took their vows.

It has to be noted though that the introduction of divorce in 2011 may have played an important part in bolstering marriages at this stage in life.

In 2014, a total of 49 male and 13 female divorcees remarried beyond 60.

Newly wed housewives

Female participation in the workforce may be increasing but in 2014 there were 189 women who declared being a housewife upon marriage.

The demographic figures released by the National Statistics Office gave a snapshot of the jobs and economic status of brides and grooms at the time of marriage.

The women who said they were housewives were mostly in their 20s and early 30s.

The figures also showed there were 37 female and nine male students getting married in 2014.

Marriage is also for the unemployed, and in 32 women and 36 men without a job tied the knot.

The largest cohorts for both sexes were professionals, with 744 women and 621 men. The army saw 36 male soldiers getting married while more than 400 brides worked in the services and retail sector.

Foreigners are boon to wedding industry

Civil marriages by foreigners choosing Malta to say ‘I do’ have been somewhat of a boon to the wedding industry.

Of the 2,871 marriages that took place in 2014, nearly half were civil marriages and the vast majority of those were between foreigners.

Of the 1,388 civil marriages in that year, only 246 involved Maltese-only couples. Another 215 Maltese men married foreign women while 120 Maltese women wed a foreigner.

The rest were bonds between foreigners, of which British couples made up the bulk. A total of 400 British citizens celebrated their wedding in Malta in 2014, a niche market that has grown significantly over the years, according to Sarah Young, a wedding planner.

“I would say weddings by foreigners in Malta are no longer a simple niche industry, and the British market is an important element,” she said.

Why would British couples want to come and get married in Malta?

Ms Young said language played an important part, but not just.

“They come here because we are English-speaking but Malta is also a fun destination and much cheaper than the UK.”

However, just like almost every sphere of the economy, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has cast a shadow on this industry.

“With Brexit, we have been left asking whether British couples will still find it lucrative to fly to Malta and get married here in the future,” Ms Young remarked.

Most popular time to tie the knot

Springtime – May and June – has consistently been the most popular period to have a wedding, according to the NSO.

In 2014, June topped the list with 492 marriages, followed by May with 438. July came in third with 340 marriages.

As expected, the winter months of January and February hit the bottom two rungs with 55 and 62 marriages respectively.

How it ended (2014)

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