When Prince Harry walks down the aisle at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle next spring, he’ll be following in his father’s footsteps and many of his family before him. And he won’t be the only one following a family tradition. New research reveals that almost a third of 18-34 year olds who get married in a church do so in the same one as their parents or grandparents. Almost a fifth (18%) of those in the same age group also said that they would be disappointed if they were told that they couldn’t get married in their local church.
The national survey, which was commissioned by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical which insures most of the UK’s Anglican churches, showed that local family ties run deep for those marrying young. In fact, 45% of 18-24 year olds who had married in a church said they exchanged vows in the same church as their parents or grandparents, over three times as many as those between the ages of 45-54 (14%).
Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, said: “Churches are places people return to again and again to celebrate and commemorate key milestones in their lives. They are deeply rooted in family history and tradition and hold a special place in the hearts of the nation.”
Holly Merrett, 30, from The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, got married at St James’ Church in 2012. Like the Prince, her family have a connection to their church that spans generations.
“My sister and I, my parents, aunts, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents and even further back than that, have all got married in the same church. In fact, one of my ancestors is William Shakespeare and I believe some of his grandchildren got married in the church too.
“For me, the knowledge that I was making my marriage vows on the same spot as so many of my family members was very special. It felt like I was joining a dynasty, hopefully of happy marriages, and that in some way, the church building was bearing witness to my family and its changing members down the ages.
“It feels like this is what church should be about: a place where you belong and that never changes. We can go back to the building at any point and re-live our special day. Hopefully my children will carry on the tradition.”
Nationally one in five gets married in the same church as a parent or grandparent with London having the highest proportion of people marrying in the same church as a family member (24%) and the South East the least likely at just 9%.
The research also revealed that 79% of us have visited a church that has played a significant part on our own family history.