Yep, all the rules have changed. With so many mid-lifers taking a second (third?) chance on love, we thought we'd consult with Sharon Naylor, best-selling author and weddings expert, about the new etiquette for those marrying after age 50. Here's what she had to say:
1. Yes, you can and should register for gifts.
First of all, you only think you have everything you already need. Obviously you didn't make it to your mid-50s without acquiring a blender along the way. But, says Naylor, you still should have a few different registries. Why? Because you help your guests and friends when you tell them what you'd like to get.
You may not have any interest in another set of good china, but that's where having a few different registries comes into play. One of them might be a honeymoon registry. Many guests prefer giving an "experience" over "more things," said Naylor.
Which is not to say that more things are necessarily a bad thing. Sure you have a blender, but now that cooking is one of your real passions, maybe you want a serious blender upgrade.
2. You can wear a white gown.
White long ago stopped being worn to represent virginity. First-time brides are now wearing colors, said Naylor, so why not older brides wearing white? There are 100 shades of white anyway -- and nothing is taboo.
There's also the second-gown trend. Some brides wear a more conservative, shoulders-covered dress to a religious ceremony but then change into a completely different look for the party. "Different makeup, have their hair redone, the whole works," says Naylor. And all of it is perfectly fine.
3. Having a big bridal party is also perfectly OK; in fact, it may be easier.
By your mid-50s, you know more people. You have daughters and daughters-in-law and maybe even grandkids. There is no rule saying you must have a small bridal party, said Naylor. When you are older and remarrying, there is likely some blending of families that will factor in. It's nice to be able to include rather than exclude.
4. The bridal party may even be all your combined children or grandchildren.
Well, why not? Naylor says she has seen this grow in popularity with adorable results.
5. Whether you invite your ex is up to you.
Some do, some don't. If your former marriage dissolved a long time ago and you've been co-parenting for ages, chances are you have come to some comfortable level of peace. If it isn't a problem for your new spouse and the ex is still part of your children's life, why not, says Naylor.
"It depends on your situation and how you feel about it," she adds. The current trend is to invite an ex for the reception but not the ceremony.
This also opens the door to the "plus one" question. "Can your ex bring the skank he cheated on you with?" asks Naylor. Hmmmmm.
6. Just don't talk about your decision to invite or not invite an ex.
It's nobody's business. Don't discuss it in person, on the phone or on social media. Why invite other people's opinions on a decision that should be made only by you and your fiance? It will only stress you out.
7. Don't bring your previous marriage(s) to the wedding.
Don't refer to the past in your vows. Naylor says to skip things in the toast like "You taught me to trust again," and any other indirect reference to your ex or how unhappy you were in previous relationships. It's fine to say, "here's why I love you and why our future together will be so great ..."
8. Let tech help.
OK, so you really have your heart set on a destination wedding, but you have elderly parents and other relatives who likely couldn't make it. Set up a Periscope of your wedding, said Naylor. It's a way for them to be "there" and you don't have to cancel what you really want to do. At the basis of all good etiquette, says Naylor, is consideration for your guests. You can get married at a resort and have a celebration when you get back.
9. The kid issue hasn't gone away since your last wedding.
Even though your friends' kids are likely to be young adults now, don't be surprised if the "aren't they invited?" question is still around. "Don't feel like you have to invite everyone's kids," says Naylor. Invite those with whom you have a special relationship, she adds. Should anyone ask -- and invariably someone will -- you can explain that there are limitations on space and/or budgets. Nothing is worse than having to pay $150 for a four-year-old guest who eats two chicken wings all night, Naylor says.
And, at any age, don't be surprised when friends show up with their kids whether they were invited or not. Just remember, memories are magnets and rude people are remembered longer than ones that play by the rules.
10. You likely won't have parents telling you what to do. But listen to them anyway.
In your mid-50s, there's a great chance that your parents won't be telling you who to invite or not to invite. Plus your parents likely don't have business associates or work colleagues anymore who take up space on your guest list. And while there's a nice disconnection from parental control over your wedding, you should probably involve them anyway, says Naylor. "Grab your Mom and say 'let's go to the flower mart and see what's in season so we'll know what our choices are next year'."
"Just do it. You'll be grateful you did later," Naylor said.
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