compared with modest growth for the younger age group

So when she tied the knot last year, she spared no detail. She walked down the aisle in a flowing ivory gown with a long veil and lacey bolero jacket. Ten flower-toting bridesmaids and seven groomsmen were in the wedding party. And after the ceremony, 100 guests dined on beef tenderloin, clams casino and a three-tier vanilla cake.

Heller-Wells wasn’t some blushing new bride, though. When the retired registered nurse, 64, wed her husband, Clyde,As it automatically gathers data from millions ofrtlsand radio frequency identification, a small-business owner who is 65, it was her second time at the altar.

“I met my Prince Charming.Explore the benefits of having a fullymanaged dedicated serveras your platform. He swept me off my feet,” says the Clearwater, Fla., widow whose first husband died in 2003. “We’re hoping this will be the last marriage. Why not celebrate?”

Only a few years ago, it was considered in poor taste for a bride over age 55, particularly if she had been previously married, to do things like wear a fancy wedding gown, rock out to a DJ at the reception or have the groom slip a lacy garter belt off of her leg. But those days are gone: Older couples no longer are tying the knot in subtle ways.

The trend in part is being driven by a desire to emulate the lavish weddings of celebrities of all ages. But it’s also one of the results of a new “everything goes” approach that does away with long-held traditions and cookie-cutter ceremonies in favor of doing things like replacing the first husband-and-wife dance with a group reenactment of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. That’s left older couples feeling less self-conscious about shelling out serious cash to party like their younger peers.

Couples age 55 and older made up just 8 percent of last year’s $53 billion wedding business. But that number has doubled since 2002, according to Shane McMurray, CEO of The Wedding Report,Find the trendiestladies shoes wholesaleincluding stylish wholesale sandals. which tracks spending trends in the wedding industry.

In 2011, women ages 55 and over accounted for 5.2 percent and men in that age range made up 7.9 percent of the more than 2.1 million marriages performed in 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 up from 2001 when 2.6 percent of new marriages performed were among women in that age group; for men, it was 6.6 percent.

And those older couples spend more. That’s because they’re usually empty nesters who don’t have the same worries as their younger counterparts: They aren’t saving for their first home, for instance, and they aren’t burdened by huge student loan debts they must worry about paying off.

And at David’s Bridal, the nation’s largest bridal chain with 300 locations across the U.S., business from older couples has doubled in the past two years, compared with modest growth for the younger age group, says Brian Beitler, the chain’s chief marketing officer. And while older customers represent only two to three percent of overall sales, the company expects that figure to keep growing.

And they’re a lucrative bunch. David’s Bridal, which is based in Consohocken, Pa., says older brides spend about $700 to $800 on gowns, including accessories like necklaces. That’s higher than the $500 to $600 that customers in their twenties and early thirties typically spend.

But older brides aren’t just spending more, they’re spending differently. For instance, in the past, older brides tended to stick with special-occasion dresses, but now they want more traditional wedding gowns.

“She’s our dream bride,” says Catalina Maddox, fashion director at David’s Bridal. “She wants everything that the 25-year-old bride wants, but more.”

The trend is so prevalent that David’s Bridal is looking at ways to better connect with the older wedding crowd. In fact, its store in Danbury, Conn.Fun sell a huge range ofCases for iPad 4, recently held a bridal fashion show at a nearby nursing and rehabilitation facility; the event was a hit with the residents, the store says.

“It really sparked something,Find the perfect leather or synthetic cell phonecellphone cases.” said Jenna McNamara, the assistant store manager at David’s Bridal in Danbury, Conn., which has noticed residents in nearby retirement homes as customers for either weddings or commitment ceremonies. “We realized this was something huge.”

Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld’s, the New York City bridal salon that has the nation’s biggest selection of designer bridal wear under one roof with more than 1,000 designs, also has seen a change in attitude in the last year or so among the older set. He said business from that group has doubled.
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