June is the month of weddings and after years of gradual decline, it seems matrimony is again on the increase in the Czech Republic. Last year, over 54,000 couples tied the knot, which is the highest figure since 2007. Czech couples are also increasingly giving preference to church weddings and more intimate wedding ceremonies over civil marriages.
According to the Czech Statistics Office, some 54,470 couples in the Czech Republic made their vows last year, which is the highest number in over a decade. In comparison, 2013 saw the lowest number of marriages in the Czech lands since World War I, around 43,500.
The number of weddings taking place in the church increased to 5,470, which is about one tenth of the overall figure. Traditionally, most religious weddings in the Czech Republic take place in Moravia, the most pious part of the largely atheist Czech Republic. Monika Valentová from the press department of the Czech Bishops’ Conference outlines more details:
“The biggest interest in church wedding was recorded in southeast Moravia, where over 80 percent of all wedding took place in a church. By contrast, the lowest interest in religious weddings is in northeast Bohemia, the region of former Sudetenland, where it is only about five percent.”
Despite the pledge to stay together until the end of their lives, an increasing number of non-believers prefer to enter the wedlock in front of the altar. Another trend specific for the Czech Republic is the increasing number of couples in which only one person is religious. Monika Valentová again:
“A recent survey of the Czech Bishops’ Conference has shown that there is an increasing number of Catholics marrying people outside the church. Some 40 percent of church weddings in the Czech Republic involve couples, where only one person is a Christian. That puts us way above the world average, which is around 10 percent. In Slovakia, it is 15 percent.”
Unlike in most other European countries, Czech Catholics mostly marry people who are not baptised; such weddings amount to around 30 percent of all church weddings. Only around seven percent of Catholic weddings involve an active member of a different religion. Czechs increasingly search for original wedding locations. While the number of civil wedding ceremonies at town halls and municipal offices is on the decline, weddings are increasingly taking place in unusual settings, such as parks, castles or golf courses. But, according to Monika Valentová there are also religious wedding ceremonies that happen outside the church.
“Such weddings do take place, but they have to take place at a respectable location. For instance, I attended a wedding that took place outside a chapel right on the bank of the Slapy reservoir, so religious weddings can be really original.”
The average age at which Czechs got married for the first time in 2018 was 29 for men and 27 for women. While the number of weddings increased to over 54,000 last year, more than 24,000 couples got divorced.
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