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Only one in ten Islington couples opt for religious wedding

Islington couple Peter McGraith and David Cabreza (right), the first gay couple to marry at Islington Town Hall, where 1,900 had civil ceremonies last year. Islington couple Peter McGraith and David Cabreza (right), the first gay couple to marry at Islington Town Hall, where 1,900 had civil ceremonies last year.

Thursday, June 19, 2014
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Vicar’s church bucks trend while mosque ‘happy to help’

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Simon Harvey, vicar at St Mary's Church IslingtonSimon Harvey, vicar at St Mary's Church Islington

Less than 10 per cent of ­Islington weddings are religious ceremonies despite more than half the borough being of faith, it has emerged.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that just 8.6 per cent of those who got married in Islington in the last full year for which figures are available opted for a religious ceremony.

The 1,309 marriages in 2011 saw 1,196 civil ceremonies and 113 religious ceremonies.

The figure is well below the Inner London average of 14.5 per cent and 30 per cent at the national level and is second only to Southwark, where only 6.9 per cent of ceremonies were religious.

Mohammed Kozbar, manager of Finsbury Park MosqueMohammed Kozbar, manager of Finsbury Park Mosque

The census collected in 2011 showed that 53 per cent of residents described themselves as religious, with 30 per cent stating they were not religious. The percentage of couples where the bride or groom had already been married was 23 per cent in Islington compared to a 26 per cent across Inner London.

Simon Harvey, vicar at St Mary’s Church in Upper Street, said: “It’s interesting because in my church we’ve seen the opposite.

“We’ve got more weddings this year than we’ve had in previous years. We’ve had five in 2014 already. I think there are probably a number of reasons. The ­demographic is much younger than a lot of other boroughs and there are more single people than anywhere else in London.

“A lot of people simply don’t realise that they don’t need to be Christian or a member of the church to get married here. When I was 23 I went to the church because my girlfriend at the time wanted us to get married there. I wasn’t too keen but I went to the church reluctantly and that opened me up to what it was all about.”

Mohammed Kozbar, manager of Finsbury Park mosque said that the low percentage could be due to the fact that some couples had a civil and a religious ceremony. “Most people have a civil marriage first and then we’re always happy to do the religious marriage as well,” he said. “People sometimes run into administrative problems if they just have a religious marriage.”

Almost 2,000 marriages took place at Islington Town Hall last year, including many from outside of the borough – while venues such as the Emirates Stadium see about five weddings a year.

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