LGBT LIFESTYLE Relationships  >  Save the Date: Planning a Late-in-Life Wedding

Save the Date: Planning a Late-in-Life Wedding

Save the Date: Planning a Late-in-Life Wedding
Print pagePDF pageEmail page


Planning a wedding, at any age, can cause both pleasure and pain. For a mature bride, stress may be exacerbated by the limited amount of resources available. Wedding planners tend to focus on younger brides, leaving older brides to fend for themselves.

Remarriage is on the rise for older adults. According to a Pew Research study, in 2013, 67% of adults ages 55 to 64 remarried. Of adults age 65 and older, 50% were likely to have remarried and older newlywed were likely to be entering their third marriage (33% of adults age 55 and older).

With these staggering statistics, you would think wedding planners would fall over themselves to woo older brides. Not so. Elizabeth Berberich and Marsha Connellan, found this out the hard way, while planning their own weddings. After successfully planning their own weddings, the lack of resources sparked an idea. Why not write a book, they wondered? From this idea emerged, Marrying Later in Life, an informative and interactive wedding guide that deals with what they call “the emotional side of getting married”-issues couples should iron out before saying, “I do.” Issues like finances, pre-nups and blending families. “You have to figure out if you are of the same social personality,” said Berberich. You might like to go out dancing and your new beau might be a couch potato. “You have to figure it out before you get married, otherwise you’re going to have issues down the road,” she added.

Marsha Connellan and Elizabeth Berberich

Marsha Connellan and Elizabeth Berberich


Whether this is your first marriage, a remarriage or a renewal, older couples face challenges that younger couples don’t. One important issue is finances. Young couples probably haven’t amassed many assets, so they typically pool their limited resources. Older couples often come to the marriage with considerable assets. A widow may have inherited money or property. Couples may have retired with fat nest eggs. You’ll have to decide whether to combine your assets.

Older couples may have different spending habits, which is a problem if one is more conservative. Berberich said that couples need to ask themselves, “Are you on the same financial money management page?”

Retirement is another issue. You may have always dreamed of retiring to sunny Florida or traveling the world in a Winnebago. Your spouse-to-be may have different ideas.

An older couple will probably have their own homes and have to decide which house to live in and whether to sell the vacated house. Dealing with the ghost (figuratively) of a first spouse, is an issue couples may face when moving into their spouse’s home.

You may think children wouldn’t be an issue for an older couple but you’d be wrong. Both minor and adult kids may impact the relationship. Adult kids may butt in. They may harbor resentment or feel the parent is moving “too quick”. If assets are involved, they may wonder if mom or dad is being taken advantage of, or worry about their slice of the inheritance pie. They may have received financial support that might cease. Other issues include child support, alimony, estate planning and whether to file individual or “married filing separately”.

A simple routine, like who will pay the bills, can become an issue. If you’re used to paying your own bills for 30-odd years, you may resist letting go of the purse strings.

If you’ve never been married or have been divorced or widowed and living alone, you tend to be more territorial and may have problems adjusting to new routines. Frankly, it may take some time getting used to having someone around all of the time.

Name changing is also a big issue for older couples who may not want to get rid of a name they’ve had for so long. For the groom, this may present a problem, especially if their intended has retained her husband’s name after divorce or becoming widowed.


Now that you’ve ironed out all your issues, it’s time save the date. Are late in life weddings different? All weddings are as unique as the couple planning them, but older couples tend to plan smaller weddings and they are less stressful. With generally shorter engagements, there’s less time to worry about the minutiae of wedding planning.

A top consideration is figuring out who’s going to pay for the wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding but many older couples foot the bill themselves.

Many older couples forgo gift registers and may ask for charitable donations, instead. Connellan notes that couples may ask for gifts related to the honeymoon such as paying for a dinner, a bike ride or a bottle of wine.

Another issue is who will walk the bride down the aisle. An older bride’s father may be deceased. Some brides have their son(s) escort them or walk down the aisle alone. “The bride may have the attitude that she’s getting married but nobody has to give her away. She is giving herself to her husband. A younger bride may not have that same confidence,” said Connellan.

“Wedding Cake” by Amy Quinn

“Wedding Cake” by Amy Quinn

Another consideration is whether the bride wants a traditional wedding. Younger brides often plan the wedding they think they should have or to please others, while older brides plan the wedding they want. Younger bridges do most of the planning with minimal input from the groom, while lots of older couples plan together.

Older brides typically don’t have a problem breaking traditions. “At our age, you can do anything you want. If you don’t want to wear white, you don’t have to wear white,” said Berberich. “When I was married before, I didn’t have a traditional wedding. When I married again, I wanted a traditional wedding. I wanted to wear a veil,” she said. She adds that some people were horrified at her decision, but she’s glad she did it her way.

Connellen’s first wedding was traditional and for her second, she did the opposite. She got married on a golf course and her two sons walked her up the grass. “I gave my husband a gold watch instead of a ring,” she said.

Berberich says that some older brides may even rent their bridal gown because they can get a designer dress. “After all, what are they going to do with it after?” she said.

Same-Sex Couples

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that same-sex marriage was a national right. As a result, many older gay couples are expected to get married. Gay couples face many of the same issues outlined above, plus additional considerations. For example, if they’ve already had a commitment ceremony, a decision whether to purchase new rings must be made. Some couples may opt to inscribe their wedding date on their old rings.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock for same-sex couples is finding gay-friendly vendors and officiants. A great resource for wedding planning is the The Knot, which has an entire section devoted to same-sex wedding planning.

Other issues include wedding showers. Are you going to have one and if so, should you have a separate or joint shower? Gay couples have to decide on how they are going to walk down the aisle. There are options. For example, if the venue has three aisles, the couple can walk down separate aisles, then meet in the middle. They can also walk down the aisle together.

Like older straight couples, same-sex couples may forgo a big wedding in favor of a more intimate, smaller affair and may do away with traditions like throwing the bouquet. They also have to contend with name changes. Typically, couples will keep their own name, decide which of their names to use or hyphenate.

“Table of the Wedding” by Kondo Yukihiro

“Table of the Wedding” by Kondo Yukihiro

The bottom line is, planning a wedding shouldn’t be stressful.

“As an older couple, you don’t worry as much about the details,” said Berberich. “If it is, you need to step back and evaluate what’s causing your stress,” added Connellan. Ultimately, all weddings should be a cause for celebration and joy.


You don’t have to go it alone. Check out these great websites as a starting point for planning your wedding.

Marrying Late In Life

A wonderful resource specifically geared toward the joys and challenges of marrying late in life. Includes a blog, real wedding spotlights, a gallery and helpful articles.

The Knot

One of the most popular wedding planning sites, with a mother lode of useful information on planning your big day.

Planning tools, a vendor search, real wedding spotlights, forums.

EnGAYged Weddings

Wedding planning, forums, resources and a directory of LGBT-friendly vendors

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...