The pandemic has undeniably had an impact on the marriage industry in Quebec. Some studies suggest a shortfall of more than $250 million for the marriage industry. Although in absolute numbers it is undeniable that the number of civil marriages dropped during the pandemic, this drop is not uniform and is segmented by type of celebrant and the composition of the couple.

Historically fewer marriages

Overall, we are witnessing a drop in the number of marriages year over year in Quebec. Between 1971 and 1991, the number of marriages increased from nearly 50,000 per year to nearly 25,000 civil and religious marriages celebrated per year. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of marriages celebrated in Quebec remained stable, fluctuating between 21,958 and 23,504 depending on the year.

In Europe, there is a decline in marriages that began in the early 1970s. A drop in the celebration of marriages was also observed in the United States during the pandemic period.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and health restrictions caused a 50% drop in the number of marriages celebrated with 11,300 marriages being celebrated. The biggest drop since 1903!

A drop in the number of marriages in 2020 in Quebec accentuated by the pandemic

The various prohibitions and instructions from Public Health, as well as the uncertainty caused on the morale and plans of couples resulted in halving the number of civil and religious marriages celebrated in 2020 in Quebec, as we learn from the Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ) in its July 2021 Sociodemographic Bulletin. There were only 11,300 marriages celebrated in 2020 while previous years had 21,958 to 23,504.

The forms of marriage that have fallen the most

Unsurprisingly, the forms of marriage that have suffered the biggest drop are marriages with several dozen guests, taking place in privatized places such as hotels or reception halls.

Marriages of foreign couples have also declined due to border closures.

Marriages before a religious celebrant and before a designated person have suffered the biggest declines according to data provided by the Institut de la Statistique du Québec

Less marked decline in marriages among mixed couples

Similarly, the decrease was greater among couples formed by two spouses born in Canada (-60%), while it appears less marked among couples in which both spouses were born abroad (-25%) or those in which one of the spouses was born abroad (- 32%) as we learn from the ISQ.

Notaries and clerks, marriage celebrants still popular despite the pandemic

The Institut de la Statistique du Québec tells us that “the decrease in the number of marriages between 2019 and 2020 (-49%) was more or less marked according to different characteristics of marriages or married people. For example, the drop appears greater for marriages celebrated by a designated person (-69%) or by a minister of religion (-56%), but it is much less for marriages celebrated by a notary (-14%) or even by a clerk (- 39%)”.

This is not surprising, since notaries and courthouse clerks are often popular with marriages with small groups, commonly called intimate marriages. During the active phase of the pandemic, Public Health did not prohibit weddings in small groups.

During this period, Me Salehi and her team of notaries celebrated civil marriages in Montreal  with the spouses and two witnesses only, just as the Quebec courthouses did.

Me Salehi was also brought to speak on the subject on Radio-Canada’s Téléjournal

Good news, the resumption of marriage celebrations seems to be on and it seems that the year 2022 will be a record year!

Sources: Institut de la Statistique du Québec, Eurostat

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