Mature Marriage

Mature marriage is in no way rare these days, even if most people still tend to think of a wedding as a “young person’s thing”.

Why marry when older?

In many cases, people are choosing to put off their wedding longer so that they can 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.

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

Gay couples in a civil partnership are increasingly looking to convert their legal status to marriage, and many established pairs are therefore taking advantage.

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.

  • There is no reason why older couples can’t 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 – but older pairs may have families they want to involve, so this ritual can 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.

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

  • 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.’

Ceremonies for the More Mature

Ceremonies for the More Mature

There is no reason why life-cycle ceremonies should be confined to the young. Those who are young at heart (or who actually admit to being “more mature”) can enjoy the benefits too.


Why marry at a later age?

  • To ‘live a bit’ before having a family
  • to establish a career first
  • to be sure the relationship will work
  • to have another go (remarriage after divorce or death)
  • as a gay couple, to convert their legal status

Should it be different from a younger couple’s wedding?

In practice, a wedding (civil or religious) can be the same for any couple (but please note that I would not expect any two civil weddings I conduct to be identical!).

Age may dictate a few differences – some more subtle than others:

  • the mature couple may prefer a smaller ceremony, especially if they have already experienced a big first wedding
  • the mature couple may now have their own families, and want to involve them
  • they may prefer more age-specific  readings
  • a mature wedding may be more fun! There’s less likely to be family pressure, so they can choose what they want to include and whom to involve – they can dictate ceremony tone and content, clothing, celebrant, venue and guests
  • a mature couple may not want wedding presents – instead, people can be given the opportunity to contribute to a charity of the couple’s choosing
  • a ritual like “jumping the broom” may not be advisable for less sprightly people!

Ceremony resized

Vow Renewals

For a full discussion about Vow Renewals (why have one and how to mark it), please click on this blog link.

Vow Renewals have deservedly been gaining in popularity. Like weddings (see above), the couple nowadays has tremendous freedom of choice. Their event can reflect their personality, beliefs and wishes, so is often unforgettably unique. Of course, a good civil celebrant’s  suggestions and advice will be invaluable in putting this together.

So a more mature couple should not feel deterred by age or even infirmity. The choices are out there – a small or large ceremony, religious, non- or part-religious, in a back garden, hot air balloon, dining room, castle etc., formal or less so, intimate or large-scale. The important thing is for the couple to choose what they are happy with so that they can enjoy a memorable and meaningful special day.

Then they can show those young whippersnappers a thing or two!