This study investigates how community characteristics influenced the timing of marriage of men and women in nineteenth and early twentieth century Netherlands on the basis of a large scale database consisting of marriage certificates covering five provinces of the Netherlands between 1840 and 1922. The results show the significance of religious context for understanding marriage timing in the nineteenth century. Living in a predominantly Catholic community resulted in a later marriage for both men and women, while living in a community that was dominated by Orthodox Protestants resulted in an earlier marriage, particularly for men. In addition, residence in a municipality with a high mobility, a large population size and a high birth rate speeded up marriage timing among both men and women. The results indicate that religious restraint and the urbanization and openness of places are, next to parental social class, of vast importance for understanding marriage timing. As our study only addressed those who married, future research will have to show whether the same mechanisms were at work for those that experienced permanent celibacy. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.