It’s marriage statistics release day, which as many of you know is my favourite nerdy day of the year! So here’s my annual rundown of the marriage statistics for 2022.

You know how in Victoria in particular we were all run off our feet catching up with all the COVID postponements last year? It’s delightful to see that play out in the numbers: 2022 saw the highest number of marriages on record, 127,161 (for comparison’s sake, 2020 had 78,987 marriages, 2021 had 89,167 marriages, and the previous highest year was 2012 with 123,243 marriages). 2019, the last “normal” year before COVID, had 113,8715 marriages. So yes, we really were as busy as we thought we were last year! It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean that marriage is more popular or that the numbers will stay this high; it’s utterly impossible to make any real statements about marriage in Australia based on the last three years, and we don’t think it will be until we see the 2024 stats in late 2025 that we’ll really know whether the marriage rate is going up or down in actuality.

Just because graphs are fun, look at this awesome one with that incredible COVID dip and extraordinary recovery:

Marriages of same-sex people were of course higher than the last two years like all the other marriages, but for the first time we have stats on marriages including at least one non-binary person. This is because the new NOIM introduced in September 2021 asks for gender, either male, female, or non-binary (although this question is not compulsory so there’s highly likely to be some marriages out there in which we can’t make any calls on gender). Anyway, in 2022 there were 159 marriages including at least one non-binary person.

The age people get married at continues to climb ever so slightly: 32.5 was the median age for men to marry (as opposed to 32.1 years in 2021), and 30.9 was the median age for women to marry (against 30.5 years in 2021). Again, it’s worth noting that COVID played havoc with these stats as well; the median age at marriage for men actually dropped each year between 2018 and 2021 and stayed pretty stable for women, but 2022’s median ages are the highest on record.

There were more marriages in every state and territory in 2022, not just those affected by COVID lockdowns, and in fact there were more marriages than in the last “normal” year of 2019 in every state and territory except Western Australia. I think that’s pretty interesting, because it suggests maybe catching up on COVID postponements wasn’t the only thing driving higher numbers last year. I have absolutely no idea what else could be responsible, and we’ll really have to wait for a couple more years to see what happens in more “normal” times (although I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticing a distinct decrease in bookings for 2024, and certainly an increase in lower-cost package bookings with the cost of living crisis, so who knows what impact that will have).

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Marriages and Divorces, Australia 2022

There was an absolutely standout date for marriages in 2022 being Saturday 22/10/2022 with 2,202 marriages (I love that even the number of marriages was filled with 2s), a whopping 454 more marriages than the next most popular date (8/10/2022).

We were back to more usual numbers of divorces with 49,241 finalised in 2022 after the huge number of 56,244 in 2021 due to administrative changes in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. In 2020 there were 49,510 divorces finalised, in 2019 there were 48,582 divorces, and in 2018 there were 49,674 divorces, so 2022 is a much more typical year. I find it interesting that it’s really gone back to normal given how many divorces we expected to see coming out of COVID lockdowns; I think we should keep an eye on the next few years’ divorce numbers before we make any final analysis about that.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has decided to decrease the stats they release this year, so we don’t have numbers on the split between civil and religious ceremonies. I’m going to email them and see if I can find out this information because I think it’s pretty important. I’ll update if/when I hear more!

So that’s my overview of the 2022 marriage and divorce statistics. Let me know if you have any other questions you’d like me to look into!

Update – 13 December 2023

I got a response to my email to the ABS asking about the breakdown between civil and religious marriages. Here’s the rather fascinating (and I’ll admit, disturbing) response:

Thank you for your enquiry. Additional detail on marriages data (including breakdowns by rites – religious or civil) is available through a paid consultancy. The minimum cost for consultancies is around $600. I can advise at a national level, the proportions of marriage rites has remained similar to previous years (with around 80% by civil celebrants and around 20% by religious celebrants). If you are after a more detailed breakdown, please let us know what variables you might like and I can put together a quote (eg breakdowns by state/territory).

I will also advise that the funding for this publication has been significantly reduced. One of the largest processing costs is related to rites as we receive this information as free text from the Notice of Intention to Marry and there is a significant amount of editing and coding that occurs even to identify the proportion of civil vs religious rites. While we haven’t fully worked through our plans for future years, I thought it might be of value to let you know this is a topic that may not continue to be available (or may be available in a further reduced form).

I guess we watch this space and see what happens in future years…