By Charlie Fletcher

By the time you’re midlife, you’ve reached your stride when it comes to understanding who you are, what you want, and what you don’t want! It’s becoming more common for people to get married later in life, often for the first time, and there are plenty of benefits to it. If you’re getting married later in life for the first time, it can be an exciting thing! Midlife marriages are often more supportive, have greater warmth, and have stronger communication.

Or, maybe you’re already married and rediscovered your heart for it or reconnected deeply with your spouse. 

Whatever the case, your love is worth celebrating! 

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by planning a wedding or a vow renewal in midlife. In fact, you can take a lot of pressure off of the event and put more focus on what you and your partner really want. 

With that in mind, let’s cover a few tips that can make the planning process easier, so you can organize a wedding or vow renewal that fits your lifestyle and your love. 

Choose the Right Setting

If you’ve found love later in life and this is your first wedding, it’s still okay to go “all out” the same way people expect couples to do in their twenties. Don’t feel like your age limits you from choosing a traditional venue option, including places like country clubs, event centers, and hotels. 

However, it’s also important not to let yourself be pressured into those venues. Whether you’re getting married for the first time or renewing your vows, your venue needs to be a reflection of who you and your partner are. Some of the best tips to keep in mind as you’re deciding on a venue include

  • Find something that works with your vision
  • Make sure the venue you choose is appropriate for your guest list size
  • Beware of your budget
  • Consider what is included in the venue itself

The average cost of a wedding venue in 2021 was over $10,000. If that’s in your budget and you found the perfect place, go for it! However, for something like a vow renewal, you might want to consider a smaller venue like a park or barn/farm with your closest family and friends. Sometimes, more intimate ceremonies – especially for renewals – can feel more magical. 

Decide on a Dress Code

Finding a venue might be the first (and biggest) thing you have to do, but the overall vibe and feel of your wedding or vow renewal will have a lot to do with your dress code. Your venue can help out a bit – after all, most people expect to have a more casual code when you’re getting married in a barn or in your backyard. 

Again, though, it’s up to you to decide how you want your guests to dress. Maybe you do want a more formal affair if you’re marrying for the first time or trying to recreate your wedding day as you renew your vows. Common types of wedding attire include

  • White tie only
  • Black tie only
  • Formal
  • Cocktail
  • Smart casual
  • Beach formal
  • Garden formal

It’s a good idea to let your guests know what to expect ahead of time. Put a little “note” in your wedding invitations regarding the dress code. The last thing you want is for someone to show up in a suit and tie to your beach wedding when you wanted everyone to wear Hawaiian shirts. 

Think about your personality and how you want your love to be celebrated. If you want your family and friends to be comfortable while you all dance the night away, make that known. If you want a small, formal ceremony, it’s okay to want everyone to get dressed up for the special occasion.

Don’t Forget About Details

A lot of people spend most of their time focusing on the “major” aspects of their wedding, like a venue, a special date, and what everyone is going to wear. However, the success of the day – no matter how big or small – will depend on a lot of little things lining up. Thankfully, you have the final say in all of those details, including whether you want to hire a band or have a DJ for the ceremony and reception. Consider your musical tastes, whether you want people to dance, and your budget. DJs can cost anywhere from $1,000-$10,000 depending on your needs.  

You also need to consider whether you want to offer your guests a buffet, a steak dinner, or a taco truck. It’s not uncommon for vow renewals or smaller weddings to be earlier in the day, so you might even consider a brunch buffet or a dessert-only reception. 

Finally, don’t forget about the decor! If you’re on a budget, try to DIY as much as possible, or utilize nature wherever you can. Fall weddings make that easy since you can use the gorgeous colors of the season as your backdrop, but using fresh flowers in the spring is another great way to cut costs and tie everything together. 

No matter when you decide to get married in life, or how you decide to renew your commitment to your spouse, make sure your wedding or vow renewal is a special event that reflects who you are, why you’re in love, and how you want to celebrate with the people closest to you. By keeping those things in mind, the entire planning process will be more enjoyable and less stressful. 

Getting Married Later  – Other Things To Consider

Getting married later in life, often referred to as “gray marriage,” is no longer unusual as more couples split up from their first marriage but have enough faith to try again! Of course, there are also people getting married for the first time in later life, having had long-term relationships in the past, but not a previous marriage. Getting married for the second time can sometimes be called the triumph of hope over experience! Older couples embarking on later marriage can face unique considerations, with financial security, estate planning, and the well-being of adult children taking center stage.

The trend for later marriages is evident in national statistics, with the median age of first marriage rising quite dramatically. Living together no longer carries any stigma, meaning that unmarried couples no longer feel the need to tie the knot, even when they have children. Unlike young adults who may marry in their early 20s, older adults tend to bring more life experiences, financial assets, and established careers to their unions. Previous bad experiences and also the accumulation of more wealth may mean that a prenuptial agreement is a sensible, if not so romantic way to go! 

Financial security is a crucial aspect of later-life marriages. Couples may have accumulated significant assets, including real estate, retirement benefits, and financial investments. Estate planning becomes paramount, with considerations such as wills, power of attorney, and health care directives taking precedence. Who is next of kin can become very important. Older couples may need to navigate the complex landscape of social security benefits and other financial perks available to surviving spouses. In many jurisdictions there are still financial benefits of marriage, especially when one considers transfer of pensions and other assets when one spouse dies.

In terms of relationships, older couples often prioritize compatibility, shared values, and personal growth over traditional gender roles – thank goodness! The idea of finding the right person becomes a fundamental reason for marrying later in life. Online dating, social media, and mutual friends may play roles in connecting individuals seeking companionship, love, and a committed relationship. Later life can get very lonely without a partner. 

Ultimately, gray marriage represents a significant and positive shift in societal norms, allowing individuals to find the perfect match and embark on a new chapter in the golden years. Whether it’s a second marriage or the first for both partners, marrying later in life offers the opportunity for personal growth, companionship, and a fulfilling journey for the rest of their lives.

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. When not writing, she is a part-time wedding planner and spends time with her nephews.

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Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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