Whether a first, second or third marriage, older brides are also big fans of the “fairytale wedding”! It used to be considered “poor taste” for brides over the age of 55 to plan lavish ceremonies, especially if said brides had been married before, that is no longer the case. So what’s behind the change?
Celebrities of all ages go the “big and bold” route with their weddings, which many industry experts believe set this trend in motion. However, the “anything goes” era we currently live in is also responsible for this new approach to nuptials, as is the fact that more and more couples are marrying while in their “golden years.”
“The rules are out the window … whether it’s what you’re wearing or the cake you’re serving,” says Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. “Sixty is the new 40 and that is reflected in the wedding.”
Couples age 55 and older may have made up only 8 percent of 2013’s $53 billion wedding business, however that number has doubled since 2002, according to Shane McMurray, CEO of The Wedding Report. The “report” tracks wedding industry spending trends.
In 2011, women ages 55 and over accounted for 5.2 percent and men in the same range made up 7.9 percent of the over 2.1 million marriages performed that year in the U.S., according to Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, based on analysis of census figures. That’s an increase from 2001 when 2.6 percent of wedding ceremonies among women in this age group. For men, it was 6.6 percent.
Older Couples and $$$
Another thing about older couples and weddings? They spend more. They’re often empty nesters who don’t have the same financial concerns as younger couples. No one is saving for their first home, and they aren’t burdened by huge student loan debts among other things.
Consequently, older couples spend about 10 percent to 15 percent more than the average wedding cost, which was $25,656 last year. This is down from the pre-recession peak in 2007 of $28,732, notes The Wedding Report.
That’s meant huge business for companies that cater to engaged couples. Simon G. Jewelry CEO Zaven Ghanimian says men in their late 50s and older have been paying more for engagement rings. A few years back they spent between $1,500 to $2,000; now they’re spending $4,000 to $8,000.
Staff members at David’s Bridal, the nation’s largest bridal chain with 300 locations across the U.S., notes business from older couples has doubled in the past two years. This is compared with modest growth for the younger age group, says Brian Beitler, the chain’s chief marketing officer. And while older customers may represent two to three percent of overall sales, the company believes that figure will increase.
The company also says older brides spend about $700 to $800 on gowns, including accessories such as necklaces. Customers in their 20s and early 30s spend between $500 to $600 on dresses.
Older brides are spending differently as well. For example, in the past older brides tended to stick with special-occasion dresses, but now prefer more traditional wedding gowns.
Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld’s, a huge New York City bridal salon, has also seen a change in attitude in the last year or so among the older crowd. Business from that group has doubled, he says.
Hall remarked Kleinfeld’s older clients are spending $4,000 to $7,000 for a gown, as opposed to the under-30 set, who are spending about $3,500.
“They used to be subtle,” Hall says. “Now, they’re saying, `Who cares? It’s my day.’ They want the dress.”
This is even more true of older first-time brides! And hey, if it’s your wedding, why not do whatever you want?