Planning a Wedding After 50: Lawyers, Botox, and Tombstones

Planning a Wedding After 50:  Lawyers, Botox, and Tombstones

I am 53 now and will be 54 by the time I get married this summer.  No, this is not my first rodeo.  My first “rodeo” took place when I was 21.  It was a different place, a different time, and I was a different person then.  I married a very nice man and we were married for over 20 years, but it ran its course, as these things often do when one marries too young.

Now, as an adult marrying the right person, at the right time, for the right reasons, I find myself planning a wedding.  At first, I wasn’t quite warm to the idea (not unlike my feeling about marriage for much of the last ten years, but that is a topic for another blog post . . .). However, after a while, I set my reservations aside and realized that, yes, a bride over 50 has every right to be as excited as a 20-something bride.  So, I bought bride magazines, signed up for a wedding website, and started planning.

But being a bride over 50 isdifferent than being a 20-something bride – in a good way.  For starters, our wedding budget doesn’t include a bachelor party, a bridesmaids’ trip, or birth control.  Instead, our budget includes lawyers (for a prenuptial agreement), Botox, and a new headstone for my father (we’re getting married at the country church where he is buried).

More importantly, we are NOT planning for “the best day of our lives.”  Countless wedding magazines and wedding planning books refer to “planning for the best day of your lives.”  There is so much wrong with that statement.  Where to start?  Well, for one thing, the man I am marrying has two sons.  They are grown men who are, and always have been, wonderful people. Doesn’t “planning for the best day of our lives” ignore the fact that for my fiancée, the best days of his life so far have probably been the births of his boys?  And it takes absolutely nothing from me to yield that to him. After all, this is not our first rodeo. Second, doesn’t “planning for the best day of our lives” concede that it will be all downhill after the wedding? I certainly don’t expect that will be the case for us.  We’ve been together for nine years (yes, nine, perhaps that is a topic for another blog post too?), and have shared much joy, adventure, and some sorrow and disappointments in that time.  But, isn’t that what real life – and the best marriages are made of – joy, adventure and shared sorrow and disappointments?  The best marriages and the happiest lives aren’t all cupcakes and rainbows.

Instead, as a bride over 50, I’m embracing the differences from the 21-year-old me.  We are planning the wedding we want, not the wedding we “should” have or the wedding that people expect or the low key affair relegated to brides over 50.  Instead, we are planning a big “weekend at the lake” with our friends and family, including a group bike ride, a pontoon boat cruise, a triathlon, and a lot of cross pollination among the various family and friends in our lives.  At the end of this weekend, we’ll celebrate with a wedding.  It will be small, but it will be meaningful and will be just what we want.  It won’t be our “best day ever,” but it will be among the most meaningful.

Deborah Nelson


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