It’s no more difficult for an older bridal couple to plan their wedding, as long as they remain mindful of whom they are and in what way they wish their wedding to reflect that. Wise and thoughtful decisions can make the wedding of an older couple and absolutely delightful for themselves and for their guests. As an older bridal couple you have the advantage of not having to deal with someone else picking up the tab. That allows you to express your own creativity, your own tastes and your unique personalities. Keep in mind that a small budget is not the only reason for having a small wedding. In the case of an older couple, it may be preferable and much more appropriate.
Choose a time of day that lends itself to a “grown-up” affair. An evening would be most appropriate, because it denotes a more elegant event. An intimate sit-down dinner party will be a good fit. Ultimately, it’s up to you, as the bridal couple to decide, but somehow a sophisticated evening event seems to lend itself better to the more mature couple. That sophistication can be carried throughout the event in everything from the menu items to the music. A more intimate reception will allow you to emphasize what’s important to you and your families, putting less emphasis on the frills and “accessories” that are considered so very important to young bridal couples.
A wedding for a mature couple follows some of the same rules of etiquette prescribed for second weddings, even if this is a first time marriage for the couple. Start with putting your invitation together and keep a few things in mind. Gifts at your wedding, if it’s a second marriage, should not be required, and you can indicate that on your invitation by simply writing “no gifts please.” If it is a first marriage for either of you (more typically, the bride), you can opt in or out of asking for gifts. More about gifts later… It’s especially important that you make it clear that you will be hosting the event. If you are sending out a formal invitation, use the following wording.
The honor of your presence
at the marriage of
Janet Addison Smith
Evan Barkley Doe
on Saturday, the third of June
two thousand and fifteen
at six o’clock in the evening
St. John’s Church
Anytown, New York
Reception immediately following the ceremony
Smith Country Club
If you choose to have attendants, just one is most appropriate. The bride’s attendant should follow the style of attire that the bride is wearing. If, for example, the bride wears a long formal gown, her attendant should also wear a long gown. The groom’s attendant and the groom should wear either a dark suit, or, for evening weddings, a tuxedo. For an afternoon wedding, the bridal couple and their attendants can be dressed in dressy business clothing.
As the groom, whether you choose to go the formal or informal route, here are a few hints. If you decide to wear a suit, you’ll look better in charcoal gray or dark brown than you will in black.These are both softer colors and will better suit an older, perhaps more ashen complexion. As for jewelry, gold cufflinks and studs will fit your tuxedo. If you’re wearing a suit, wear a good watch, and not much else.
The bride will look better with a little more coverage than a strapless gown affords. Some fabrics will be more flattering to her than others. Specifically, silk and taffeta will be better than satin, or other shiny fabrics and also better than chiffon. The more traditional wedding consultants advise the older bride against wearing white, but there are many older and/or second-time brides who, nevertheless, choose to wear long white gowns. White will not be your best and most flattering choice. Instead, consider choosing something softer like a dark ecru, or champagne. As for the style of your gown, if you are slender, opt for a sleek style. If not, select a style similar to what wear every day that you find figure flattering. At your age, you already know what style fits you best.
When you look to accessorize, go for an elegant, rather than blingy look. Pearls, or simple gold jewelry (necklace, bracelet and earrings) are better than a flashy look. Most older brides stay away from wearing a veil, unless one is necessary for religious reasons. In that case, a blusher veil, perhaps attached to a small hat, is the best choice.
Your ceremony should reflect your level of maturity and your personal style. It’s best to discuss the wording of the ceremony with your officiant, so that you can adjust the text so it is suitable to you. For this and other reasons, many older bridal couples write their own vows. Doing so will give you the opportunity to discuss your plans for the future and then to express your wish to share this next phase of your lives with your friends and family. When it comes to the ceremony, it’s all about personalization and making sure that the rituals sync with who you are. That being said, cutesy or preachy are inappropriate, while an emphasis on partnership and sharing are very appropriate. Feel free to include any traditions that feel comfortable to you and add any new rituals which you feel are appropriate. If you decide to put together a program, it will afford you an opportunity to explain any traditions or rituals you are including in your ceremony, especially new ones.
If you are a first-time bride and your parents are alive and healthy, you absolutely can have your father walk you down the aisle. If this is not your first marriage, you may want to consider giving the honor of walking down the aisle to one of your children, or even a close friend. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with walking down the aisle on your own and, by the way, if you choose not to have attendants, you can ask all of your guests to “stand up for you.”
It is appropriate for you to have a receiving line, if you wish. That can take place if you exit the ceremony location first and then greet your guests as they exit. In the alternative, you can greet each of your guests at the reception itself. This is a more personal way of thanking your guests for sharing your special day. Of course, you can do both!
As far as a reception is concerned, what works best is a small party at home, or in a favorite restaurant that has a separate, private room. Another option is to select a reception venue that can only accommodate a small group. In that way, a small group of guests won’t “get lost” in the room. Choosing an out-of-town, or out of the country venue is another option. You will need to keep in mind that expensive plane flights may keep some of your more budget conscious guests from attending. But, if you have the wherewithal and your guest list is small, perhaps you can cover some of those expenses. Some older couples may be in a position to host a destination wedding for which they cover all their guests’ expenses. For a wedding that’s not out of town, if your budget allows, provide your guests with transportation from their hotels to the ceremony and/or the reception venue and perhaps even cover some of the expenses for local attractions that your guests may be interested in visiting.
Your reception should also follow a “no cutesy” guideline. It would be best if you eliminated such rituals as throwing the garter, or your bouquet. In keeping with the sophisticated tone of your wedding, you may also wish to forgo traditional wedding favors and indicate that instead of paying for those, you have dedicated the funds to be donated to a charity. It’s perfectly appropriate to put the name of that charity on a card at each table. If you feel strongly about the particular charity, you can set up a wishing well where guests can choose to make a donation. The well can also be a place where guests can deposit the wedding cards that they have brought you. Especially if the numbers of your guests are small and you know your crowd, you may wish to ask anyone who wants to speak to do so. Let me emphasize that you really have to know your guests. Poorly worded, embarrassing wishes or toasts can easily ruin the mood you have tried so hard to create.
Music. Follow a more sophisticated bent and select adult-oriented selections. This can happen with a small band, quartet, soloist, or any musical combination that you feel you and your guests would enjoy. This doesn’t mean stodgy affair, but rather one that suits you as a more mature bridal couple and equally suits your more mature guests.
Keeping true to the guiding principles of maintaining an adult atmosphere with personalized elements, consider wrapping a small piece of wedding cake for each guest to take home. In lieu of, or in addition to floral centerpieces, you can give each of your female guests a small corsage or wristlet. If you choose to have flowers, consider more “adult” choices, such as tulips, gardenias and orchids are best.
As an older couple, your wedding can be just as wonderful as any other. The key is to be true to yourselves and to consider your guests. Your maturity has earned you the right to have a fabulous experience.