Originally published by:
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  Thursday, February 4, 2010

 

Happily ever after?

  Number of couples walking down the aisle declines
 

By ROBIN RUEHLEN, C & G Staff Writer

Whether couples are putting off marriage due to the lack of jobs, or more young people are moving out of state in search of work, the marriage rates in Oakland and Macomb counties are following states trends - downward. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, marriage rates in Michigan have dropped steadily since 2001, when there were 66, 326 weddings. Recent data shows a decline from 59, 400 marriages in 2006 to 56, 996 in 2007, and a drop to 55, 465 in 2008.

In 2007, there were 6, 906 marriage licenses granted in Oakland County. That number fell by 168 to 6, 738 in 2008, and by 95 to 6, 643 in 2009.

Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson said she believes a number of factors have contributed to the declining number of marriages in Oakland County.

"We have an aging population, and unfortunately, some people have left the area in search of jobs," she said.

"Sometimes when the economy is bad, you see more divorces because of the many pressures on families, but actually, divorces are down in Oakland County also." The fee to apply for a license is $20 for county residents and $30 for all others. Johnson said couples must apply in person at the Vital Records Office, or they can start the process online. Couples are required to wait three days before picking up a license.

Macomb County has seen a more drastic change in the past years than its neighbor. Aaron Johnson of the Macomb County Register of Deeds Office said 5, 108 marriage licenses were granted in 2007. The numbers dropped by 190 to 4, 918 granted in 2008, and then by 336 to 4, 582 in 2009.

"There's no more justice of the peace, so couples wanting a civil ceremony have to go to the district courts," Johnson said.

"I won't speculate on the drop in countywide numbers, but the economy probably has something to do with it." Kris Abraham, director of the White House Wedding Chapel in Warren, said business has remained steady at the white-columned mansion on 13 Mile Road, with about 20 weddings per month.

"Things have stayed about the same since we opened in 2008," Abraham said.

Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman Joe Kohn said the archdiocese has seen a drop in the number of weddings performed in Catholic churches in the past decade. In the late '90s, the church averaged more than 5, 000 weddings per year.

"We treat marriage as a sacrament, and we've long had a process that prepares couples for marriage with a regimen of classes and counseling.

Those things have remained the same," he said.

In 2007, there were 3, 439 weddings performed in the archdiocese, which includes 274 parishes in Southeast Michigan. That number fell to 3, 228 in 2008, and to 3, 086 in 2009.

"You could take into account the possibility that more Catholics are getting married outside the church, or that the area's population has gone down over this time period, as well," Kohn said.

"The drop in the number of church weddings is definitely a trend we're noticing."

You can reach Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at (586) 279-1105 or rruehlen@candgnews.com.

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