Is marriage getting more and more attractive? What about registered partnerships? With the first seven months of 2022 showing an increase in marriages compared to the same period in the previous three years, one can only wonder about the reasons behind these trends. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the leading statistical office in the Netherlands, lifts the veil, so to speak, on these questions.
Catching up after Covid
After two tough pandemic years, many more couples decided to celebrate love and get married. The number of marriages carried out up to and including July this year was more than 40,000. In the previous two years, when Covid-19 hit the world hardest, the number of people who said yes was significantly lower. Last year, under 30,000 marriages were carried out in the same period, while the same seven months in 2020 saw only about 25,000 marriages.
Not only has the number increased after Covid, but even 2019, the year before the pandemic, had fewer married couples than this year, with under 36,000 weddings performed from January to July.
Why is everyone getting married?
Tanja Traag, Chief Sociologist at Statistics Netherlands, explains there are probably two reasons behind this increase in the number of marriages. The first thought is that many weddings were cancelled due to Covid. It was not possible to get married for a long time in 2020 and 2021, or at least not to have a large party with friends and family. Therefore, many couples had to cancel plans or postpone their saying yes until it was possible again in 2022.
The second reason is that 2022 had a viral wedding date: 22 February 2022. On this exact date, nearly 1,200 couples tied the knot, according to the statistics agency. Not only this date was especially popular, but the entire month of February saw many people getting married, with a total of 4,100 marriages signed, sealed and delivered. In previous years, February has usually seen an average of 2,800 couples getting married, so the number of marriages this year is a significant increase, even comparing to peak days in the popular wedding months of May, June and September.
Marriage vs registered partnerships
Registered partnerships were fewer this year compared to the previous years. According to Traag, a relationship registration is often made from a more practical point of view, usually accompanied by another significant event. For example, 53 per cent of couples who entered a partnership in recent years recently had a child together or moved to a new house.
And although the popularity of the registered partnership has been on the rise since 2014, during the period from January to July 2022 there were fewer registered partnerships compared to the same period in 2021. This tendency is interesting, seeing that just as Covid hit in 2020 and marriages decreased, the trend of registered partnerships actually increased.
Registered partnerships saw a slight fall in numbers during the first lockdown in 2020, but not as significant as the fall in the number of marriages. In 2021, even more couples decided to have a registered partnership in the registry office.
Similarities and differences
Getting married or registering a partnership is often done for practical reasons, for example when a child is involved. But what exactly happens when either decision is made?
There are some similarities: one person can take the last name of a partner, to be addressed by government authorities with that name. Thus, the couples need each other’s permission for particular decisions, such as selling their house. In case of a lawsuit, married and registered partners won’t have to testify against each other. Both persons are obliged to provide for each other’s livelihood. Finally, each individual is the legal heir of their partner.
But there are, of course, some differences between a registered partnership and marriage. First, the romantic ‘yes’ given to each other at a wedding is not mandatory for a registered partnership. Second, a marriage is recognized worldwide, whilst a registered partnership is not necessarily. If no children are involved, a couple can terminate the registered partnership out of court, which can’t happen with a marriage.
Thus, couples who needed to set their affairs in order in 2020 and 2021 are likely to have chosen a registered partnership. Those who wanted to marry for romantic reasons postponed their marriages until 2022, so they could celebrate their love in front of a large gathering of family and friends.
Written by Bárbara Luque Alanis