Fewer couples got married in 2011 compared with the previous year, while the average age of brides and grooms continues to rise, according to figures released by the Central Statistics Office.

In 2011, the average groom was 34.5 years old when he got married, while the average bride was 32.5.

That was an increase of six months for both men and women compared to those who got married in 2010.

There were nearly 20,000 marriages registered in 2011, just under 1,000 fewer than the previous year.

The statistics show that civil weddings now account for 29% of all marriages.

The age of a bride and groom tended to increase for civil marriages, with the average groom almost 38, and the average bride 35.

The figures show almost 88% of marriages in 2011 were the first for both the groom and the bride.

They also show that there was a 9% increase in divorces granted in 2011 compared to the previous year.

There were 536 civil partnerships registered in 2011, with 335 male unions and 201 female unions.

The average age of partners in civil partnership couples was 44.3 years.

The average age of men being 44.7 and average age of women was 43.8.

Of the 1,072 individual partners, 1,018 (95%) were previously single while 48 (4%) were divorcees and six were widowed.