By Lisa Joiner
Midlife brides and grooms (age 40 and over) represent 35% of all weddings in the U.S. each year, and yet the fashion and bridal industry have not woken up to the power of the Silver Spend. They’re missing out on mid-lifers, not just in the U.S. but also in the U.K.
Kevin Lavery, a marketing and advertising specialist for the 50+ co-hort and vice-chairman of the Mature Marketing Association (MMA), states of mid-lifers “they’re bending the rules, defining the “new old” and they hold an estimated 80% of the country’s (Britain’s) wealth.” Here in the U.S. there are over 100 million 50+ adults, and they account for half of all consumer spending, but are targeted by just 10% of marketing (AARP).
Let’s be honest, in the bridal and business world, age isn’t sexy. When it comes to designing a bridal gown or a wedding package for a mid-life bride, age myopia is rampant. Brides over 40 are largely seen as irrelevant in a world focused on youth, technology, and a hip, cool vibe.
The fact is, mid-life brides contribute almost 19 billion of the 54 billion dollars spent each year on weddings in the U.S. Imagine what they’d spend if they had age specific products and targeted ad campaigns. Women in mid-life want to look stylish and current not younger, and definitely not like a stereotype. They want to be relevant, wrinkles, thicker waistlines and all.
On their wedding day, mid-life brides never want to look like the mother of the bride or as if they’re wearing their daughter’s (or granddaughters) dress. They hunger for modern designs that flatter their bodies, and they have spending power.
The wedding industry isn’t alone in ignoring this significant consumer. As blogger Alyson Walsh (That’s Not My Age) writes “It will take commitment from fashion brands and advertisers, as well as continued pressure from consumers, outside agencies, and influencers.” We need more variety. Mid-lifers want to see images of women who look like them, who reflect modern style.
I understand focusing on the young bride is easier. After all, it’s the category that spends the most on weddings. However, this lack of offerings for mid-lifers creates a divisive culture that infers beauty, romance, creativity, and celebration belong only to the young. I know that each year in the U.S, over 750,000 mid-life brides will beg to differ. Culturally, we need to be more mid-age inclusive.
In the meantime, mid-life brides continue creating work-arounds to achieve the wedding of their dreams. They’re highly creative, excellent researchers (yes, they’re tech savvy), and impressive collaborators who persevere amidst the constant barrage of youthful images and dismissive attitudes.
The Silver Spend is noticed and appreciated by vendors who frequently work with mid-life brides. These vendors know how pleasurable mid-life brides are to work with, and state that while the events might be smaller with fewer guests, the commitment to top quality is consistently high.
Mid-life brides know, without a doubt, how incredibly fortunate they are to have found love as an older adult. They may not be model thin or able to sport a pair of 4 inch heels (and actually walk in them) anymore, but they definitely have that bridal glow. Indeed, they are defining the “new old” and they’re wearing it exceptionally well.
Unveiled Wisdom: Wedding Planning for the Mid-Life Bride (Amazon)