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Wedding Essentials

2011: bumper year for 'I dos'

Number of marriages hits all-time high, with more than 27,000 couples tying the knot
The Straits Times - February 15, 2012
By: Leslie Kay Lim
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2011: bumper year for 'I dos' Wang Jiehui, 25, and Vincent Yu, 29 wed last year. -- PHOTO: WHITELINK BRIDAL STUDIO

THE number of marriages here hit a record high last year, surpassing 27,000 for the first time.

To be exact, 27,256 marriages were registered, out of which 22,838 were under the Women's Charter, and the remaining 4,418 sealed under Muslim law.

The last all-time high was in 2009, when 26,081 unions were formalised.

Aside from a slight dip in the number of unions in 2010, the general trend since 2003 has been up, in proportion to the growth in the population here.

The figures come from the Department of Statistics in its monthly digest for January.

With Singapore's policymakers having fretted in the past decade about the birth dearth here, the rise in the number of marriages could well mean the stork could get busy this year.

But Marriage Central, a resource body under the National Family Council, does not want to make too much of the figure - at least not yet.

Marriage Council chairman Anita Fam said the rise in the number of marriages is a natural consequence of the growing population.

Singapore's total population grew 2.1 per cent to 5.18 million last year.

She said that although factors such as the economic slowdown and the Chinese almanac could have led to the dip in 2010 and the recovery since then, 'you can't read too much into it'.

The year 2010 was a Tiger year and is traditionally not an auspicious year to get married. Hence, those not wanting to tie the knot that year might have decided to do so last year instead.

'It is a good sign that it is going up, but it is too soon to come to any conclusions,' she said.

Then, pointing to this being a Dragon year, she said it could well nudge couples into marriage and making babies this year.

'I am willing to bet there will be a spike in marriages and babies this year,' she said.

Anecdotal evidence from among couples who got hitched last year indicated, however, that external factors - such as the economy and how auspicious the Chinese almanac says it is - matter less than it personally being the right time for each couple.

For civil servants Kelly Ang, 25, and Clement Chua, 29, last November was the right time to get married after a two-year engagement: Both had finished their studies.

Teacher Wang Jiehui, 25, also picked a time between life stages to get married to fellow teacher Vincent Yu, 27, last year. Both were then about to start careers in new schools.

Attaining financial stability was a priority for civil servant Elfian Abdul Hadi, 30, and his bride Siti Norizan Hussain, also 30.

They got married last October after two years of planning and saving up. They move into their HDB flat next month.

Getting a comfortable marital home set up first was a goal for Ms Gaya Sivasurian. The 26-year-old lawyer said she spent two years planning for and buying her home before getting married.

The increased number of weddings made it a good year for the service industry. The Shangri-La hotel, for example, hosted a record number of weddings last year. Its director of events management Choi Chin Chin believes the economy's growth and stable financial climate definitely played a big part.

The weddings that took place last year may not produce babies this year.

But Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his Chinese New Year message last month, expressed hope that the traditional belief that Dragon children are smarter, more successful or lucky will be enough to make the stork deliver.

Hospitals are already expanding their maternity facilities to deliver more Dragon babies, he said, adding: 'I fervently hope this year will be a big Dragon year for babies.'

Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) last year was just 1.2. TFR refers to the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime.

Of the one dozen newlyweds The Straits Times spoke to, 11 have parenthood in their plans, either soon or down the road.

Said Mr Elfian, who is planning to have a child soon: 'Having children will complete the whole marriage experience.'




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