Suffolk/Essex: Love really is blossoming as number of weddings is on the rise

Maxine and Ben Bryant, got married on Valentine's Day last year

Maxine and Ben Bryant, got married on Valentine's Day last year - Credit: Archant

HUNDREDS more couples are getting married across Suffolk and Essex every year, it has been revealed.

Religious leaders in some parts of the county have reported a 20% boom in the number of church weddings and attributed the rise to people seeking “something spiritual” and “solid” in a transient society.

The most recent figures for the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which covers all of Suffolk except Lowestoft, 758 couples got married in 2008. By 2011, the most recent figures available, that number had increased almost 15% to 914.

And figures released by Suffolk County Council show that the number of civil marriage ceremonies has increased year on year since 2010. The number of ceremonies in 2012 was 2,592 - a 13% rise on two years before.

According to most recent figures, the number of church weddings in Essex has gone up from around 1,880 weddings in 2009 to about 2,000 in 2012 – a rise of 6%.

Figures released by Essex County Council show the number of weddings in the register office have gone from 1,827 in 2008/2009 to 1,900 in 2011/12. The number of weddings on approved premises in the county has also gone up from 2,984 in 2008/2009 to 3,572 in 2011/12.

Yesterday, the Reverend Mary Sokanovic, chaplain to the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, said the figures demonstrated the continued importance of marriage and joined relationship experts to urge couple’s to use Valentine’s Day to strengthen their bonds with loved ones.

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Speaking to the EADT she said: “People at the moment are on a spiritual surge.

“I think the rise in marriages speaks about a longing perhaps for something more solid and lasting in society than many of the things that in our world are more transient today.

“Perhaps people are seeing marriage now as that particular thing.”

Rev Sokanovic said that marriage in Christian context is about community and family life.

She added: “I think people are striving to get back to that feeling of belonging. In the last four years we have seen a 20% rise in the number of weddings we are doing.”

Rev Sokanovic said moves to make it easier to marry in church had also been behind the surge.

She added: “It has encouraged people to go back to their roots and get married somewhere that they know and have grown up in.”

The reverend, who said that “people are beginning to look for something more than the legal status of being married”, said there has also been an increase in people using churches for a second marriage.

Rev Sokanovic said that whether a wedding takes place in a church or in a civil ceremony, Valentine’s Day has a vital role to play in modern marriage.

She said: “It is fundamental. If you lose that sense of joy and wonder in each other then you lose what began that relationship in the first place. I think what Valentine’s Day is able to do is create a real point of focus in our busy life.

“It is fundamental to celebrate these times like we do anniversaries. It brings back to us what it was originally that set on this journey.”

Liz Farrow, general manager for Relate Suffolk said that marriage clearly still has a place in society.

She added: “I think it does. Some people want to show their commitment in that way, they want to acknowledge their love for each other in front of friends and family and make a commitment for what everyone hopes will be for life. “I think it is still a lot of people’s aspiration. But equally, you also see lot of long-term of partnerships where people haven’t got married.”

Ms Farrow, who said that the number of people coming for sessions had remained constant over the past four years, added that Valentine’s Day is a “good excuse to be romantic.”

She said: “I think sometimes when you get caught up, especially when you’ve got children, it is important to remember your relationship and your loved one.

Ms Farrow added: “You do have to make time for each other to keep a relationship going. Perhaps we should all use Valentine’s Day to say from now on in, for every month or every week we should be putting time aside for us and our relationship and keeping that healthy.”

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