August’s Annual ‘I do’ Could Be a Case of ‘I don’t’ for Sheffield Couples

August's annual 'I do' could be a case of 'I don't' for Sheffield couples
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.
Bradie Pell
Bradie Pell
Partner and Head of Family Law
Graysons Solicitors

August is traditionally the most popular period for marriages, but falling numbers of couples getting hitched, together with the eye-watering costs of the ceremony at a time when many are struggling with household bills, is seeing more and more couples saying ‘I don’t’ and cohabiting instead.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data confirmed that rates of marriage between men and women had already fallen to a record low in 2019. There were just 18.6 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men and 17.2 per 1,000 unmarried women – the lowest since records began in 1862.

When couples are getting married, it seems the wedding day is changing to keep costs down. A 2022 OnePoll survey commissioned by Gumtree found that a staggering two-thirds of couples planning to wed were scaling back plans to save money in the face of the cost of living crisis.

Everything from getting a friend to take the photos to changing to a date out of peak seasons were methods being used to cut costs.

There’s no doubt, for many couples, marriage isn’t as important as it was, and many will start by living together first.

Statistics show that the number of marriages has been in decline for many years, and the ongoing cost of living crisis has only exacerbated that situation.  But on a more positive note weddings are not the only thing in decline – divorce numbers are also falling at the moment.

Bradie Pell does have a word of warning for couples that do choose to cohabit.

She said: “When couples get married they commit to the sharing of their assets whereas cohabitation does not carry the same commitment.  That is by no means a foolproof option and parties are well advised to consider a formal cohabitation agreement if they are wanting to limit financial exposure in the event of a separation”.

The recent introduction of the ‘no fault’ divorce became the biggest shake-up in marriage laws for years. Despite an initial peak in divorce applications, they now appear to be falling.  Some cite this as another impact of the cost of living crisis.

Bradie Pell always urges couples to ensure they get the correct advice and exhaust all other options before seeking separation advice.

“At the end of the day, nobody wants to see a couple go through the emotional turmoil of a divorce, but if they do have to, obtaining proper legal advice is key. I think it’s very important that people properly understand the process they are entering into and what divorce might look like for them. Sometimes the option of marriage guidance counselling could be the first step.”

More articles by Bradie Pell.

About Bradie Pell

Bradie Pell is head of family law and partner at Graysons Solicitors in Sheffield.

She graduated from the University of Sheffield and qualified as a solicitor in January 2011.  She deals with the whole spectrum of legal issues that affect families, including divorce, separation, finances – with particular emphasis on pensions and property portfolios, injunctions, and matters relating to children.

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