A new study has found couples are swerving traditional venues in favour of 'approved premises' alternatives
Fewer than a third of UK weddings take place in a church, new research has found.
The study - carried out by discovered the traditional church wedding's popularity has almost halved over the last few decades, with fewer than one in three couples opting to tie the knot in a church in 2012, compared to over half throughout the 1980s.
Alterations made to the Marriage Act in 1994 meant that couples were able to tie the knot in more locations - and is the most obvious driving force behind the transition from church to 'approved premises' weddings.
The decline of the church celebration has also been attributed to the ever-increasing popularity of couples picking venues, such as stately homes and football stadiums, where they can hold both the ceremony and the reception.
Other factors include the rise of couples living together prior to their wedding day - with four out of five couples now living together before they get married - as well as a fall in church attendance.
The rise in pre-marital co-habitation has been linked to the boom in 'approved premises' ceremonies, with the most popular venues now including stately homes, sports ground and hotels, with over half of UK weddings hosted at such locations.
University of Oxford statistician John Haskey,who conducted the research, said: "The growth in marriages in approved premises has largely been at the expense of religious marriages... ouples who do wish to marry want their wedding to be a full flourish with many guests and accompanied by all the social trimmings; there is a reluctance to have an economy wedding.
‘The advent of marriages in approved premises has provided the opportunity for a big splash at a prestigious location – there is no religious connotation and the setting is admirable for a large social gathering and celebration".