The Best Days of Your Lives
Maybe it took you five or six decades to find true love but you’re finally ready to stroll down that aisle. These golden years unions are certainly deserving of a fabulous celebration, regardless of whether it’s your first go at marriage or your fourth. But just how, exactly, do you define “fabulous” at 50 or even 70-plus?
According to Sally Kilbridge, deputy editor for Brides magazine, there aren’t actually any hard-and-fast rules about what’s “age-appropriate” for a first-time wedding – anyone can have a traditional ceremony, a huge reception and a registry for fabulous new china. It’s also fine for an older woman to wear a wedding gown if she looks good, says Kilbridge. “Just go for sophistication rather than lots of frills and bows.”
Nevertheless, she adds, most senior sweethearts find that what feels right for them is frequently different than what feels right for a 25-year-old.
“We often find that couples who get married later in life have smaller, more intimate celebrations, their children and grandchildren are typically involved in the engagement and ceremony, and the bridal parties might consist of just a matron-of-honor and a best man,” says Anja Winikka, editor for TheKnot.com. In addition, she notes, the engagement period tends to be shorter, the invitation text typically differs because the couple is probably footing the entire bill, and, of course, the music and décor is likely more Etta James and simple elegance than Lady Gaga and all-out glitz.
The Second Time Around
If you happen to be tying the knot for the second-plus time, Kilbridge’s foremost suggestion is to make sure this wedding is very different from previous events. “Don’t go back to the same place, dance to the same first song or take off on the same honeymoon,” she says. “Also, think about who you’re inviting – it’s fine to have your closest loved ones at your second or third wedding, but duplicating the entire guest list time after time could become awkward.”
In general, these once-again weddings also are on the small side, says Winikka, and couples don’t ask for gifts. As for the dress, contrary to popular myth, wearing white is not symbolic of virginity; however, because it remains a rather entrenched belief, many 50-plus brides prefer to don off-white, ivory or pastels.
But while all brides have the right to wear white, the veil is in fact an emblem of girlhood, thus older second-time brides are better off at least forgoing the blusher, if not skipping the veil altogether.
Other than that, getting married when you’re older really has more perks than limitations. Unlike younger couples, chances are you’ll have complete control over your event, so use it as an opportunity incorporate details and activities you love (Home videos of your children! Contra dancing!), and modify traditions to suit your own needs, such as walking down the aisle together.
“The bottom line with later-in-life weddings is that you should go with your gut,” says Kilbridge. “Self-awareness is a gift that comes with time, so make use of it.