Turning Tradition on Its Head, Older Couples are Opting for Big Blowout Weddings
A flowing ivory gown, replete with a veil and bolero jacket. Ten bridesmaids; seven groomsmen. A dinner for 100 that included a three-tiered vanilla cake. To top it off, a fireworks display during the reception.
Total cost of the wedding: $45,000.
The surprising part? The couple, SherryLynne Heller-Wells and her husband Clyde, who tied the knot last year, are are 64 and 65, respectively.
“I met my Prince Charming. He swept me off my feet,” the Clearwater, Fla., widow whose first husband died in 2003, told the AP. “We're hoping this will be the last marriage. Why not celebrate?”
A big, lavish celebration with a white gown and all the accouterments was once considered in poor taste for older couples, perhaps those heading to the altar for the second or third (or more!) time. But they’re no longer shying away from the big blowout and all the traditions that go along with them.
First, more older couples are getting married. Of the 2.1 million marriage performed in 2011, women 55+ accounted for 5.2 percent, and men 7.9 percent, both up from 2.6 and 6.6 percent in 2001, according to Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family and Marriage Research, based on analysis of census figures.
Secondly, unencumbered by the financial constraints that may be felt by their 20-something counterparts, such student loan debt or saving for a home, these couples have more to spend. According to Shane McMurray of The Wedding Report, an industry tracker, couples 55+ made up 8 percent of 2012’s $53 wedding business, a percentage that has more than doubled over the past decade.
That’s good news for wedding vendors. Gown retailer David’s Bridal says older brides will spend $600 to $800 on gowns and accessories, around $200 more than a bride in her 20s or 30s. At high-end retailer Kleinfeld Bridal the difference can be even bigger, with older clients spending $4,000 to $7,000 versus an average of $3,500 for the under-30 bride.
A growing number of brides-to-be looking to plan their dream weddings, however, could mean brides of all ages need to book their preferred vendors even further in advance, while they’re still available.