— Life —

Survival Tips for the Mid-Life Wedding

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As some of you know, I’m getting married this year. Second time’s the charm.

It’s odd getting married at this stage of life. You feel a little old to be the blushing bride and yet want to do something celebratory. Initially we planned a destination wedding in the islands. That worked until I talked with the resort’s wedding planner about the details of the ceremony. She informed me I’d have to make my way to the wedding gazebo on my own, past three different pools. I had visions of some sweaty guy in a banana hammock, juggling eight Piña Coladas, crashing into me on my way to the altar. In a panic, I cancelled it all and booked the local church.

Now that we’re having a more traditional wedding, we need traditional wedding things like a wedding dress and a DJ. Easier said than done.

Have you shopped for a wedding dress lately? When I got married the first time, it was 1994, and I wore something that looked like a sundae. Two years after I was wed, Carolyn Bessette married JFK Jr., setting the stage for pared-down, bias cut dresses that became popular for years to come.

Somewhere between 1996 and 2016, things became even more minimalist, and now everyone sports the naked dress. This season many gowns feature cutouts to show off the skin right above one’s hip bones. This looks divine on Karlie Kloss.

On me, it’s like someone drew a circle in Sharpie marker right around my love handles.

Also wedding gowns are now seriously expensive. I found one that was perfect, save for the five figure price tag equalling two years of tuition at a decent university. No sale.

In the end I bought a gown from the designer behind Grace Kelly’s gown. Her company was the “it girl” for weddings until the early 2000’s. Somehow I felt a kinship with this label in a way that went well beyond the hand-finished silk.

We’re still in search of a photographer who doesn’t insist on using drones or channeling his inner Wes Anderson by asking us to pose ironically with falcons. All I want are couple of highly airbrushed candids for my Instagram account. Surely it can’t be this hard.

We did find a DJ. He’s our age, which is key. We do not want an evening of nothing but Drake songs. Not even Drake can dance to Drake, so we don’t stand a chance. This guy understands that an excellent playlist includes very few songs written after the 80s.

So this New Year’s Eve, while other brides will be dancing to D.R.A.M. while showing off their midriffs, I’m looking forward to a little Etta James, a vintage YSL jacket, and a groom who knows a lot about life and love. Because that’s what mid-life marriage is really all about.


  • 1010ParkPlace November 1, 2016 at 8:11 am

    A couple of months before James and I got married in 1996, my little voice said, “Your dress is out there, now. Go find it, and I did. I was drawn to it like a magnet. My car drove straight to the right store. When I get things out of storage, I’ll post a photo. It was divine. I’m excited for you! xoxox, Brenda

    • Jen Lawrence November 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Aww thank you. I’d love to see the photo! xo

  • Paula Kiger November 1, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Lovely, Jen (and I loved the humor in your post too!). Wishing you all the best.

    • Jen Lawrence November 1, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Thank you, Paula!

  • Ren Powell November 1, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Congratulations and enjoy the day! I got married this June. Just a few months after my 50th birthday. I found my dress on my lunch hour: browsing alone and totally not planning to buy anything. It wasn’t at all what I had in mind, but I loved it. I hope you have a fabulous wedding!

    • Jen Lawrence November 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thank you, Ren. Love to hear about other mid-life marriages! xo

  • Gigi Schilling November 1, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Love that she is getting a wedding dress because a bride is a bride at any age. A wedding is not just another party so it must be special.

    • Jen Lawrence November 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thanks, Gigi. xo

  • Elaine November 1, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    I bought my wedding suit the year before I met my husband! I was visiting Boston and shopping at the original Filene’s basement in their designer section. I came across a beautiful white suit with a scalloped neckline. I bought it because it was a fabulous find; I wasn’t thinking I would be getting married again some day and will wear it to my wedding! Sometimes you find things when you are not looking! I wish you much love and happiness in your marriage.

  • Beth @GrannyBeth3 November 2, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Oh my yes. My second wedding had all those questions and problems. I ended up ordering my dress, a pale pink suit, online ‘cuz I just couldn’t stand the hustle. Our wedding was soulful and joyful . We knew what we wanted and made sure that we got it. That’s the way our marriage has been.

  • Estelle November 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Big congrsts! I got married in midlife and had my daughter in my mid forties. It’s the best!

  • Esther Zimmer November 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    How wonderful, Jen! You write with such humour but I understand how stressful finding the perfect dress is, more so the second time around, I think! My dress sat in a box under our bed for several months and meanwhile I went to every dress shop in town – until I eventually realised I already had what I was looking for. Esther xx

  • Donna O'Klock November 2, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I am so excited for you Jen, I had tears in my eyes just reading about your gown, and your great DJ!
    Sounds like an affair to remember…

  • Heather Lindstrom November 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    You will be a gorgeous bride, blushing or not, Jen! You hit the most important element of marriage at the very end, a couple who “knows a lot about life and love”. Less blushing but more wisdom and life experience this time around. For those of us on our “lucky 2nd” or “lucky 3rd” marriages, we’ve learned that life experience is everything. We know the conversations to have and we know much more what matters at midlife. I’m so happy that you found your true love, Jen.
    xx, Heather

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