Royal Wedding effect: Number
of church nuptials rise as study finds living with a partner makes you
happier than being single

Couples living together have higher self-esteem

Unmarried couples are happier than those who have tied the knot

The nation was captivated by the Royal Wedding last year and it seems it has inspired other couples to follow in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's footsteps.

The number of church weddings has risen for the first time in several years, research has revealed.

Despite fewer marriages taking place, four per cent more couples are opting for Church of England nuptials.


Wedding fever: Prince William married Kate at Westminster Abbey, prompting couples to marry in church

The new figures show weddings in churches went up to 54,700 in 2010 compared with 52,730 in 2009.

The statistics are expected to be higher this year following the Westminster Abbey event in April.

Other celebrities who opted for a church wedding include Lily Allen and Kate Moss, who both married last July.

The rise comes after the Anglican Church relaxed rules in 2008, allowing couples to marry in any area where they have lived for six months or where their parents or grandparents were married.

But it seems some couples are opting out of marriage all-together.

Young couple moving house and having celebratory drink

Cheers! Married and cohabiting couples experience greater gains in happiness and self-esteem

Unmarried partners who live together can be happier than married ones, research suggests.

A study found that co-habiting couples reap the same social, health and psychological benefits as those who are married.

But they have fewer obligations and more flexibility, say researchers from Cornell University.

Writing in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Dr Kelly Musick said: 'Marriage has long been an important social institution, but in recent decades western societies have experienced increases in cohabitation, before or instead of marriage, and increases in children born outside of marriage.

'These changes have blurred the boundaries of marriage, leading to questions about what difference marriage makes in comparison to alternatives.'

Previous studies have shown the link between marriage and well being when compared to being single, but the latest research looks at marriage and cohabitation over an extended period.

Dr Musick studied data from 2,737 single and women who went on to marry or live with a partner over the course of six years.

She found that in both marriage and cohabitation there was a spike in happiness and well-being immediately after, during the so-called 'honeymon period'.

But the advantages were short lived, she said.

Marriage and cohabitation both resulted in less contact with parents and friends compared to remaining single, and these effects appeared to persist over time.

Dr Musick said: 'We found that differences between marriage and cohabitation tend to be small and dissipate after a honeymoon period.

'Also while married couples experienced health gains – likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared healthcare plans – cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem.

'For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy, and personal growth.'

She added: 'Marriage is by no means unique in promoting well-being and other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits.'