October 21, 2021
Canada’s wedding industry has been one of the hardest hit because of the pandemic. Now there’s word young Canadian couples are sidestepping getting hitched altogether – not because they don’t love each other, but because they feel they don’t need to get married to prove this.
Or so says a new report from Cardus (non-partisan think tank and registered charity) that states couples may not believe in the institution of marriage in the first place – backing up a recent Stats Canada report stating the same thing.
The Cardus report ( cardus.ca ), titled For Love or Money: Why Canadian Young Adults Marry … or Don’t , finds that not believing in getting married is the number one reason both men and women aged 25 to 34, say they’ll skip tying the knot. Almost half of men in this age group who are part of a couple and don’t want to marry cite this as their top reason for not getting married. Among women in the same group and situation, 39% say the same thing, according to the report.
Statistics Canada reports that back in 1981 (and according to a 2011 census report), nearly 26% of adults ages 25-29 said they had never been married. Fast forward to today, and that figure is an eye-popping 73%.
“Clearly there are big, cultural factors at work in why young Canadians choose not to marry,” says Peter Jon Mitchell, co-author of the report, in a recent media release. “Considering that married couples have gone from 91% of families in the 1970s to just 66% in the 2016 census, it’s clear there’s a societal shift here that deserves attention and more study.”
One area is the cost of getting married in the first place: “When my partner and I decided to get married, we had a big, splashy engagement party for our family which cost thousands of dollars, and then we started planning this big, formal wedding for over 300 people with all the bells and whistles, and a gown that would have cost me over six thousand dollars,” said Stephanie, in her 20s, recently (who asked her last name not be used for privacy reasons.) “And then the pandemic came along – we had to cancel and lost our deposit on the venue. We re-booked several months later, and cancelled again. Wedding for hundreds was dropped to about 50 people, and that didn’t work out either.
“Now, we’re living together, happy, and we’ve banked the money we would have spent on the wedding to put towards a condo we purchased.” Stephanie says she and her fiance may consider getting formally married one day, “but we’re in no rush now. We’re in a stable relationship that doesn’t need a piece of paper to validate it.”
Stuart Gray, director of the financial planning centre of expertise for RBC, points out that “since the onset of the pandemic, 53% of non-married (couples) said the money they had been saving for a wedding is now going to other financial priorities, including buying a home (or) starting a family,” as reported in a recent news release. He states that 71% of couples “believe buying a home is more important than having the ideal wedding.”
According to a new public opinion poll by the Angus Reid Institute ( angusreid.org/marriage-trends-canada ) “while wedding planners have fashioned an entire industry centred on that ‘special day,’ Canadians themselves appear unconvinced that the day – or the institution it represents – isn’t all that special anymore.”
That said, a majority of Canadians are of the view that getting hitched is “a more genuine form of commitment,” than living in a common-law relationship, according to the poll.
“In general, Canadians favour treating marriages and common-law relationships identically when it comes to taxation and assets, with majorities saying those who legally marry should not get extra tax benefits, and those in common-law relationships should divide assets equally when the relationship ends,” notes the poll.
There’s also a trend towards age and marriage – the older a person, the more often they will legally tie the knot, either through a religious service or a civil one. The trend has been well-documented: Canadians are waiting longer to get married, if they get married at all.
Have Canadians totally thrown in the marriage towel? “Attitudes toward marriage in Canada may be changing, but most Canadians still report having walked down the aisle at least once in their lives,” notes the Angus Reid poll. “Some six-in-ten (60%) have been married at some point, and 43% are married currently.”
So it’s a question of never say never – the poll shows that while 40% of adults in Canada have never been married, most of them are not opposed to the idea of marrying someday. “While never-married Canadians have many different reasons for their current marital status, the most common one is that they just haven’t found he right person yet.”
“Marriage is not for everyone, but the weight of academic research on the subject shows that marriage is associated with benefits for couples and their children, and for the wider society,” adds Mitchell, in a recent media release. “Healthy marriage contributes to family stability, with social and economic benefits for neighbourhoods and communities. There’s an obvious need for increased availability of information about the benefits of healthy, stable marriage, which could inform young Canadians’ decisions about partnership.”