Regardless of the make-up of couples getting married, weddings rely on a diverse range of businesses — venues, caterers, photographers, retailers, florists, tailors, chauffeurs, jewellers, hair and beauty suppliers, accommodation providers and so forth.
But given that same-sex marriages have only been legal in Australia since 9 December 2017, the first release of data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provides valuable insights for all of these businesses into catering to this segment of the market.
“There are distinct differences between male and female same-sex marriages that emerge from this data,” the bureau’s director of health and vital statistics, James Eynstone-Hinkins, said.
According to the ABS, there were 3,149 same-sex weddings in the first six months since the law was changed (from 9 December 2017 to 30 June 2018).
Of those, more than half (56.3 per cent or 1,773) were female couples, meaning male couples made up only 43.7 per cent (1,376).
As well as the actual number of weddings being different by gender, so too was the median age of the couples.
Female couples had a median age of 39 years when they tied the knot, while male couples were almost a decade older at 48.5 years.
Perhaps less surprising is where the majority of same-sex weddings were held. Australia’s most populous state, NSW, accounted for more than a third (34.6 per cent or 1,090) of the weddings, followed by Victoria (26.2 per cent with 826) and then Queensland (18.9 per cent with 595).
More broadly, the trend towards people getting married later in life showed no signs of letting up.
For the first time, the median age for women getting hitched exceeded 30 (at 30.1 years, compared to 29.3 years in 2007). Men are also getting married later, at 32.0 years in 2017 (up from a median of 31.6 years a decade earlier).
At the other end of the spectrum, Queensland remains Australia’s divorce capital, with a rate of 2.3 divorces per 1,000 residents. The divorce rate is lowest in the Northern Territory, where it sits at 1.6 per 1,000 residents.
The Australian Bridal Industry Academy (ABIA) also noted that the overall number of weddings as a percentage of the population is continuing to decline, and not even the introduction of same-sex marriages into the statistics was enough to halt the trend.
It noted that there were 112,954 marriages in 2017 (the last full year for which there is data available), more than 5,000 less than the 118,401 recorded in 2016.
“The number of marriages and weddings as a percentage of the population has been in decline for almost three generations, from 8.3 per cent in Grandma’s day (mid-1960s), to 7.2 per cent in Mum’s day (mid-1980s) to 4.6 per cent per thousand of population today,” ABIA's chairman, John O’ Meara, said.