by Edgar Alan Poe (excerpt)
I DWELT alone
In a world of moan,
And my soul was a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride —
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.
I don’t know if there is a specific age limitation on the appropriate use of the term “blushing bride”, but I do know that at 61, and getting married for the third time, the term just doesn’t fit me. But then, I don’t like labels so this is one I have no desire to wear.
What I do want to wear is an outfit that reflects me — my personality, my nature, my style and my stage in life. And that’s where the real challenge lies in getting married at this age. Wedding dress-makers don’t cater to the mature bride, or any other term I’ve plugged into Google to try to find information and ideas about getting married in my sixties.
It’s funny. Okay, not really funny, more disheartening in a ‘if I don’t find the humour in this I might just cry’ kind of way, to be looking for dresses and wedding ideas in my sixties. So much of the online information is geared to young, ‘blushing’ brides who are embarking on married life for the first time.
And it’s understandable.
In 2008, there were 147,288 marriages in Canada. At 4.4 marriages per 1,000 people, the marriage rate was at the lowest level it has been in the last century and half of what it was in 1972. (Source) Given that the average age of a bride at first marriage is 28.9, focusing on ‘the mature bride’ is not a booming business. Focussing on second and more marriages is also not a growth area if the data is any indication. Only 10% of all marriages in Canada are thought to be ‘second time’ with only 1% attributed to more than two marriages. (Source)
So many of our social norms are focused on the notion that the wedding is all about the bride and groom. It’s their day and as many a first time bride has spent much of her life dreaming of this special day, it’s understandable that there’s a sense that for her, it just might be the most important day of her life.
There is a difference though when you’ve been married before and together have four adult children. This day is not just a statement about the two of us. It’s a statement about our families becoming one. About the six of us becoming united. It’s an opportunity to celebrate with our children, to involve them in a symbolic union of our families that states, we are family, we are united, we are together.
And, in that union, it is a recognition that we have thought long and hard about what we are doing. There is no reason for us to be married other than we want to do it. In our desire to wed, we are stating we are deeply committed to making it work, not just for our sakes, but for the sake of our children who have already suffered the stress and sadness of their parents’ divorce.
Getting married at this age is no light matter and while it may not be big business, it is serious business not to be stepped into lightly.
Though being light of heart does help!
And that’s where I struggle. I read the data. Search for articles on planning my ‘mature’ wedding and all I stumble upon are dire predictions of why second and third, and even first, marriages are not necessarily good predictors of future happiness.
According to Stats Can, forty-percent of first time marriages in Canada are predicted to end in divorce before the 30th anniversary. In a US infographic titled Divorce in America, it shows that 60% of second marriages are more likely to end in divorce, and 73% of third.
And I wonder, does it matter? Aren’t we more than the statistic? Aren’t we more than a prediction of failure, or success?
Isn’t this day and all the planning leading up to it, about focusing on happiness, fun, celebration? Isn’t it about celebrating family and all that binds us in Love? Isn’t our willingness to publicly declare our love for one another, no matter our age, a statement of our belief in the power and majesty of love to overcome the odds and not remain relegated to mere statistics? There’s also the consolation that getting married at this age is more likely to find its end in the demise of one or both of us, rather than divorce!
Ultimately, our wedding is our celebration. Though Google has not been a fount of wedding planning how-to’s in planning our big day, I’m no blushing bride. I don’t need anyone to tell me what is the right, or wrong way, to tie the knot. We don’t need anyone to tell us how to create memories. We’ve got lots of those already!
What we need is exactly what we’ve got, two people who love eachother deeply. Two people who have been willing to stand in the whole of their relationship, with all their pasts and broken places between them and acknowledge, the shortest distance between two hearts is always the path of love.