You're in shock. You're looking down at the ring on your finger and you can't believe he just popped the question. You're going to be a bride! This, of course, means it's time to plan one of the biggest days of your life, and you're going to need your best friends and closest family members by your side when you say "I do."
One of your first tasks is to choose your bridesmaids. These are the gals who you'll pick out matching dresses for and will throw a shower and bachelorette party for you. Most importantly, they'll be part of your wedding party and will help plan your big day. But what if one or more of your most trusted girlfriends is over 30? Does she really want to wear the matching dress and go on crazy pub-crawls with your 20-something friends?
The answer to the first question is "yes." If she's a true friend or close relative, she'll want to be there for you on your big day, and age shouldn't play a part in that decision. Being a bridesmaid can strengthen the bonds of friendship and family, bringing the two of you closer together and giving you a shared experience like no other. Besides, the concept of older bridesmaids -- and brides -- is becoming more commonplace. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of an American bride has climbed to 26.5 years old, compared to 25.1 at the beginning of the new millennium. In the U.K., most brides wait until they're 30 before they get married. So it's only natural that bridesmaids may be older, and thinking that the role is reserved for younger women is now antiquated.
Of course, older gals might not be gung ho about stepping in to (and paying for) a matching dress that more closely resembles slinky prom gear than a traditional bridesmaid gown, and they may not be too excited about playing the "suck for a buck" bachelorette party game. But don't worry; there are things you can do to make your older bridesmaids feel included and, well, not old.
Planning a Wedding with Bridesmaids Who Are 30 or Older
Once upon a time, a bride had bridesmaids to serve as physical protection from ne'er-do-wells. Today, they offer the bride emotional support throughout the wedding planning process and stand by her side on the big day. No matter what the age of the bridesmaid is, she's expected to take on certain tasks associated with the wedding. She'll have to buy a bridesmaid dress, help throw or plan wedding showers and the bachelorette party and buy a gift for you and your soon-to-be hubby.
One thing to take into consideration if your bridesmaids are a little older is to pick age-appropriate clothing. That cute, kinda low-cut dress with ruffles and a sash that's perfect for your 23-year-old sister might not look so great on your 33-year-old cousin. Think about finding one dress that's appropriate for all ages, or choose a color and let your bridesmaids pick their own outfits. Even if everyone wears a different dress, they can still look coordinated.
Also keep in mind that older bridesmaids may be beyond the clubbing phase, so when you're throwing out ideas for the bachelorette party, make sure everyone's comfortable with the plan. A bridesmaid who's over 30 may look forward to a night of dancing, but might not be so keen on wearing novelty necklaces or hats that identify her as being part of a bachelorette party. She'll want you to have a great night, of course, but making her feel comfortable and part of the group will help her, you and everyone else relax and focus on having fun. If you still want the crazy party, consider giving her a pass if she's going to feel like the odd woman out. Instead, maybe consider throwing an additional, more low-key celebration like a day at the spa that all your bridesmaids, regardless of age, will enjoy.
Ultimately, the role of bridesmaid is all about being a true friend or family member, and age has nothing to do with it.
- Ellicott, Claire. "Here comes the bride...but not until she turns 30 and has lived with her husband for three years." The Daily Mail. Oct. 4, 2010. (Feb. 11, 2012) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1317489/Here-comes-bride--turns-30-lived-husband-years.html
- Mirriam-Webster. "Matron of Honor. 2012. (Feb. 17, 2012)http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matron+of+honor?show=0&t=1329500889
- Passero, Kathy. "The Bridesmaid's Handbook." Sterling Publishing. 2005.
- Roney, Carley. "Wedding Party: Am I Too Old to Have Bridesmaids?" TheKnot.com. (Feb. 11, 2012) http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-questions/picking-bridal-party/qa/okay-for-an-older-bride-in-wedding-party.aspx?MsdVisit=1
- Telegraph, the. "I'm 35. Am I too old to be a bridesmaid?" Nov. 20, 2011. (Feb. 11, 2012) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/8891289/Im-35.-Am-I-too-old-to-be-a-bridesmaid.html
- U.S. Census Bureau. "Families and Living Arrangements: 2011." Nov. 3, 2011. (Feb. 11, 2012) http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ms2.xls