Consanguineous marriages potentially play an important role in the transmission of β-thalassaemia in many communities. This study aimed to determine the rate and socio-demographic associations of consanguineous marriages and to assess the influence on the prevalence of β-thalassaemia in Sri Lanka. Three marriage registrars from each district of Sri Lanka were randomly selected to prospectively collect data on all couples who registered their marriage during a 6-month period starting 1st July 2009. Separately, the parents of patients with β-thalassaemia were interviewed to identify consanguinity. A total of 5255 marriages were recorded from 22 districts. The average age at marriage was 27.3 (±6.1) years for males and 24.1 (±5.7) years for females. A majority (71%) of marriages were ‘love’ marriages, except in the Moor community where 84% were ‘arranged’ marriages. Overall, the national consanguinity rate was 7.4%. It was significantly higher among ethnic Tamils (22.4%) compared with Sinhalese (3.8%) and Moors (3.2%) (p < 0.001). Consanguinity rates were also higher in ‘arranged’ as opposed to ‘love’ marriages (11.7% vs 5.6%, p < 0.001). In patients with β-thalassaemia, the overall consanguinity rate was 14.5%; it was highest among Tamils (44%) and lowest among Sinhalese (12%). Parental consanguinity among patients with β-thalassaemia was double the national average. Although consanguinity is not the major factor in the transmission of the disease in the country, emphasis should be given to this significant practice when conducting β-thalassaemia prevention and awareness campaigns, especially in high-prevalence communities.