Later Marriage

Nov 12, 2018
a good relationship between clients and celebrant

Later marriage is surprisingly common these days, even if most people still tend to think of a wedding as a “young person’s thing”.

Why marry when older?

There are a variety of reasons why people tend to marry later.

In many cases, people simply choose to put off their wedding longer to defer responsibility. They want to enjoy themselves before being ‘encumbered’ by a family. They may want to establish a business or career, and need to devote their time to this.

Some people believe they shouldn’t marry until they are ‘sure’ that the relationship has a good chance of lasting. They may lack confidence. They don’t want to ‘get things wrong’. I talked to somebody only the other day who had been engaged for over three years, and only now felt the time was right.

Older people are returning to the marriage market for another go. They may be divorcees or widows/widowers.

Gay couples are able to take advantage of the relatively recent change in the law, and get married. Many of these couples are necessarily quite mature.

Should the ceremony be different?

A church wedding (if permitted) and, indeed, a register office ceremony, will be the same for an 18-year-old or for a 58-year-old. They are basically standard ceremonies.

If you’re looking for a bespoke ceremony, you will need a civil ceremony.

Civil Ceremony suggestions

By the nature of the thing, no two civil ceremonies are likely to be the same, so it is impossible to be prescriptive.

Nevertheless, when approached by more mature couples, I still have the preliminary chat and establish what elements (if any) they have in mind. I make suggestions and then, over time, send them drafts for them to approve.

The areas I am likely to cover include music, rituals and readings.

  • Older couples can enjoy the same sort of music as youngsters (if that’s their choice). They may choose the same rituals (a Unity Candle is always lovely, as is the Loving Cup – but older pairs may have families they want to involve, so these rituals may be expanded to include offspring etc.). Either age group may decide to include the offering of a gift, such as a red rose, to their parents during the marriage.

A good celebrant ought be able to supply suitable suggestions.

At a second wedding ceremony

“Jumping the Broom” photo courtesy of

Of course, some rituals (such as ‘jumping the broom’) may be less advisable for more mature pairs!

  • There’s no reason why age should prevent couples from writing and/or reciting their vows or having the rings blessed.
  • Readings can be whatever the couple want, and many are not age-specific in any way. However, some are suitable for more mature couples. I like this anonymous passage (for very mature couples!), and I conclude with it:

“The question is asked: ‘Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?’ And the answer is given: ‘Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired but still strong with love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.’