In line with national trends, new figures have revealed that more and more people in Westmeath are opting for civil marriage ceremonies as opposed to religious ceremonies.
Some 17 per cent of the marriages that took place in Westmeath during 2006 were civil marriages, with the figure rising to over 23 per cent nationally.
These figures represent a dramatic increase from 10 years previously, when just 6 per cent of all marriages in Ireland were civil marriages.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO ) reveal that of the 450 marriage ceremonies taking place in Westmeath in 2006, 365 (81 per cent ) were Catholic, 79 (17 per cent ) were civil ceremonies, while six (just over 1 per cent ) were Church of Ireland.
At a national level, the number of Roman Catholic marriage ceremonies fell from 90 per cent of all marriages in 1996 to just 73 per cent in 2006. In fact, experts are predicting that, if current trends continue, the number of civil ceremonies could overtake religious marriages by 2012.
A further breakdown of the figures reveals that of the 378 grooms from Westmeath who married during 2006, 290 had a Catholic ceremony while 80 opted for a civil ceremony.
Similarly, of the 374 brides hailing from Westmeath, 290 had a Catholic ceremony, and 78 a civil one.
Reflecting the rise in divorce figures in recent years, 32 of the total grooms from Westmeath were divorcees, while 345 were single men. One was a widower.
Of the Westmeath brides, 29 were divorcees, 344 were single women, and one was a widow.
The average age of grooms in Westmeath in 2006 was 32.9, while the average age of brides was 30.4.