The average age of brides and grooms continues to rise in Ireland. Figures released this week by the Irish Central Statistics Office also show that fewer couples got married in 2011 compared with the previous year.

In 2011 the average age for a groom was 34.5 years, while the average age age for a bride was 32.5. That represented an increase of six months for both men and women compared to those who got married in 2010.

There were nearly 20,000 Irish marriages registered in 2011, the latest statistics show, which is just under 1,000 fewer than the previous year. Civil weddings now account for 29% of all marriages and the age of a bride and groom tended to increase for them, with the average groom almost 38, and the average bride 35.

Almost 88 percent of marriages in 2011 were the first for both the groom and the bride. Statistics show there was a 9 percent decrease in divorces granted in 2011 compared to the previous year.

According to RTE 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.

According to the latest figures show that the oldest grooms in the country can be found in Waterford City. The average groom in Waterford is aged 36.1 years, while the oldest brides were found in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with the highest average age recorded at 33.7 years old.

The youngest grooms in the country can be found in County Monaghan. The records show the lowest average age for a groom was at 33.2 years, while Donegal had the lowest average age for brides at 30.9 years.

The divorce rate in Ireland has also declined. There were 2,819 divorces granted by the Circuit Court and the High Court in 2011. This was a decrease of 294 or 9 per cent on the 2010 figure.

In almost 64 per cent of marriages, the groom was older than the bride across all age groups except in the case of grooms under 25, where the bride was older in 43 per cent of marriages.