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By Suzanne Henry, founder of LateBloomerBride.com.

These days, many women over 40 are trying to deal with the motherhood question, and planning a wedding, all at the same time. In fact, given the priority of our bio clocks, the wedding can often take a back seat. With all that stress, what can we do to make planning a midlife wedding easier?

I was 42 years old when I put on a wedding dress for the very first time. I call myself the “late bloomer bride” (or LBB) because it took a few tries with the guys to find Mr. Right.

When I finally met my Husband, and we were planning our wedding, I discovered I still wasn’t beyond the age of having to consider “wedding things,” such as strapless, or high neck? A vineyard, or a hotel? Do we invite our work colleagues, or not? I fussed over the menu and wine list like any-aged fiancée.

But, some decisions around our wedding just felt different than what I believed my younger counterparts might have to deal with. (I had two younger sisters who got married in their 20s, and somehow I don’t think they asked themselves if a completely strapless gown was appropriate or not.)

When looking for advice specific to the 40+ bride I found, well…nada. The bookshelves and Wikipedia aren’t exactly brimming over with guidance (of any sort, not just the wedding kind) that applies to a woman who has had her own career, finances, ideas and more already established before merging her life with another person’s. Clearly, there was the seed of an idea for a blog here!

Let’s address the wedding, specifically. Yes, budget, theme, location, invitation list and more can be somewhat similar. But, below is a list of particular questions for the LBB that may yield different answers, or carry more or less weight than someone who is contemplating marriage much earlier in their life.

1. How will you and your spouse handle the budget? My husband and I primarily paid for our wedding. Since we split the wedding – and the honeymoon — down the middle (I paid for my dress, however) there was much negotiating on how much we should spend and where we should spend it — and it was entirely based on our own tastes and desires. No in-law input here!

2. What is the most important quality for your special day? Are you interested in a spiritual vibe or have it be the most fun party ever had? Want your mom to walk you down the aisle instead of dad? Release butterflies or hand out peacock feathers to wave you off to your honeymoon? You are only limited by your imagination because “being older” means you get to break all the rules.

3. What do you want to do about gifts? If you are over 40, you probably already own enough cookware, linens and other things normally gifted to newlyweds. Do you want to try something nontraditional, such as asking for donations to a special charity or things that follow a certain theme? (One LBB I know asked for things to support their honeymoon to Thailand, including electrical adapter kits and a new set of luggage.)

4. With whom do you want to share your special day? The older bride has usually settled into certain social and family circles, which don’t change as quickly from her earlier days. You needn’t give into “obligatory” invites as much as our younger brides might believe. But, you’ll probably have a longer list to cull, so ensure your spouse and you are on the same page as to who gets the invitation, who does not, and why.

5. What “look” do you want to convey? Let’s face it, you’re probably more financially stable at this point and have more options for the dress, hair, make-up and jewelry than a younger bride. Do not follow any rules about what you “should” look like, but rather what will make your feel the best. Because the one thing that doesn’t seem to change – no matter your age—is every bride wants to look beautiful. And, yes, it’s okay that your dress cost more than your first car. Mine did.

What did you find different in planning your wedding today than if you were much younger?

Notes for this blog:

Suzanne Henry is a writer, blogger and PR consultant who found herself walking down the wedding aisle for the first time at age 42. Finding so few resources around getting married for the first time over age 40, she launched her blog, www.LateBloomerBride.com (http://latebloomerbride NULL.com/) in 2009 in an effort to bring women in similar circumstances together to share resources, stories and ideas on how to merge their fully formed lives with another who turned out to be Mr. (or Mrs.) Right. Suzanne lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with a year old Westie dog and “Husband,” who tolerates Suzanne’s blogging passion always with a smile.


9 Responses to How To Plan Your Midlife Wedding

  1. Lylas says:

    The big difference now that I’m older is that there was no wedding and no marriage. When I was young, that seemed SO important to raise a family. Now, it doesn’t seem important at all. And the tax implications of getting married when both parties have a good income – horrendous.
    I guess that decision made me a 51 year old unwed first time mother.

  2. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.flowerpowermom NULL.com) says:

    I think you’re right–for many men and women over 40, the wedding ceremony is just a bonus, especially if you are on round 2 of marriage. The critical element is that conception and starting a family must take precedence over a wedding ceremony when you’re older: the biological clock becomes more important than a commitment ceremony. I think a lot of women are getting married AFTER having the baby, like in this blog by Pamela Ferdinand, who wrote the book “Three Wishes”, about 3 women over 40 and an anonymous sperm donor. It’s called “First Comes Baby, Then Comes Marriage” and she talks about how she planned a wedding after motherhood: http://flowerpowermom.com/baby-marriage/ (http://flowerpowermom NULL.com/baby-marriage/).
    As to the tax implications, I think it would be really worthwhile to have a tax specialist write an article for us!

  3. Christina says:

    I got married at 45. My husband and I had been together for 7 years by that time. We had a destination wedding. We only had 2 guests – the couple who stood up with us. However, we had the traditional ceremony with a judge presiding, tux, the dress, the cake, the champagne, I had my hair done, professional photos, all of that as it was my first (and only!) wedding and I wanted things traditional. An aside, while trying on dresses there was a very young beautiful gal on a pedestal beside me as we were both being fitted in front of a large mirror and that was rather depressing. ;D Not one bridal dress looked right on me (they were made for much younger gals) and the sales gal at the last minute suggested a “mother-of-the-bride” dress that was on the rack. Ouch. But it was perfect and I felt beautiful in it for sure. Our wedding did not take a lot a lot of work or expense. We adopted from Vietnam soon after that and now also have a little girl from China.

  4. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.flowerpowermom NULL.com) says:

    I was totally depressed trying on wedding dresses for younger, slimmer women. I ended up having mine custom made. Like Suzanne says in the article–don’t worry if it costs more than your car. 😀 We also chose a small wedding party of 25 and got married in a castle. It was better to give a fantastic party for a small group, than feed roast beef to 200. We also didn’t have our in-laws to please because we were older and no one was going interfere with out choices! Congratulations on your little girl!!

  5. Suzane (http://www NULL.latebloomerbride NULL.com) says:

    The beauty of mid-life relationships is there appear to be so many more options — even NOT getting married like Lylas. Sadly, as Christina pointed out, the wedding dress manufacturers haven’t kept up that trend. I had my dress made in the end. And, like Angel, we had a smallish wedding (42 people) and went for quality over quantity. But, regardless of what one chooses it seems by the time we reach our age we’re at least past trying to please others! Thanks for reading everyone.

  6. Carolyn (http://www NULL.mommyinthmiddle NULL.com) says:

    I got married for the first (and hopefully last!) time at 40.

    I’m a dentist, and was moving my practice to a new town. So I was planning the new facility and the wedding at the same time.

    Choosing color schemes, cabinetry and equipment at the same time I was selecting table settings and a gown could have been overwhelming. Instead, I decided to put things in perspective.

    My wedding was “just one day”. My practice and my marriage were going to be with me a lot longer.

    I kept the wedding simple, refused to obsess over ANY of the details, and had a small but beautiful traditional wedding.

  7. Suzane (http://www NULL.latebloomerbride NULL.com) says:

    Carolyn, You have a good attitude! Best/Suzanne

  8. LaRae says:

    I was 43 when I married my soul mate, we had a simple yet beautiful wedding at a vineyard with only close family and friends attending. Where the gifts were concerned we simply wrote at the bottom of the invitation “Let your presence be our presents. However if you really would like to give us something we would love flower bulbs to plant at our new home so every time they bloom we are reminded of our special day”. It has been 2 years and we LOVE seeing all our flowers come up in the spring!

  9. Genevieve says:

    I was married for the 1st time when I was 51. It was an odd experience when dealing with vendors. I felt like I was expected to make excuses for my age…saying I was two busy with my career or it is a second marriage or something. Truth being at 50 I found the only man I ever wanted to marry. My husband and I were going to be married in a B&B, which we called intimate, just the two of us. However, it didn’t seem right. I didn’t want to make excuses .. I wanted a wonderful ceremony on the beach with the people that meant the most to my husband and I. We had a beautiful beach side wedding, a harpist, a pastor and our families. Family members took pictures, and a catered reception in our home. So, please just have a beautiful wedding with the people you love; just don’t have any doubts or second thoughts to the way you want your wedding.

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