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Midlife Weddings Need Love Too

Why does Google think that every midlife bride wants to wear the same frumpy dress? Lisa Joiner wants options, people! Read more of Lisa’s midlife marriage tips on her blog

I’m no Che Guevara. I do, however want to ignite a revolution. What sent me down the path to revolt? Google.

In 2011, while planning my wedding, I’d Google wedding dresses, shoes, venues, books, and so forth under the categories of (among others), “Older brides” and “Mid-Life Brides.” The results were pitiful. My brick & mortar searches were equally non-productive. Google’s empty results revved up my desire to inspire change within this overlooked, under-served category.

Midlife Weddings Need Love Too

When I started writing my book, Unveiled Wisdom: Wedding Planning for the Mid-Life Bride, it was to bring support and ‘how to’ savvy to mid-life brides and grooms. That mission has grown to include revolutionizing the wedding industry. Yes, I know it’s a lofty goal for an insipid industry. My desire is to see them acknowledge mid-life brides by readily offering products and services that fit the age, status, and lifestyle of this woman.

Let’s be clear: we’re talking stylish not frumpy and not something designed for the mother of the bride. While a mother-of-the-bride dress is fine when our child gets married, it is not the only dress option we want when we get married.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Rebecca Perkins, life coach, speaker and author of Best Knickers Always: 50 Lessons for Midlife, says, “I long for the day when you type ‘midlife’ into Google and it comes up with something other than ‘crisis’ I want to see words like ‘heroes’, ‘mentor’, ‘inspirational women’, ‘careers’ … ” Yes, Rebecca! I’d also like to see wedding gowns, shoes, books etc. AND when you click the links, actually have the products be tastefully designed, specifically with this woman in mind, for her body, age, beauty and wisdom.

My revolutionary cry is for these women to have more options and services available while planning their wedding and to eliminate the social stigma attached to being a mid-life bride.

I understand for significant change to happen there has to be a need and viable customer base. Our Midlife Population is currently a combination of Baby Boomers and GenXer’s, with almost twice as many Boomers (76 million) as there are Xer’s (40 million). Combined, they have an annual spending power of over $600 billion.

According to the 2015 Wedding Report there were roughly 2.2 million weddings in the U.S. last year. In raw economic terms it’s a $57 billion dollar industry. Out of that 2.2 million, there were over 564,000 mid-life brides last year alone (up from previous years). That means 26% of all U.S. brides are over the age of 40, and represent nearly $15 billion dollars in annual sales. That’s more than the state of California, which represents approximately 15% of the entire wedding market with $8.3 billion dollars in sales. I’d say mid-life brides are a viable niche.

Mid-life brides can hit what I call the “establishment” wall while shopping for products and services. The genuine disinterest by insiders to properly serve our niche is frustrating. At times, it also proves embarrassing and intimidating, partly because of the youth focused market, and partly because of the uninterested, dismissive behavior demonstrated by store personnel. Being ignored as a mid-life bride (whether a first-time bride or third-time bride) is commonplace. Thank goodness we have the mid-life tenacity to persevere.

Turns out, apathy towards mid-lifers is widespread, and unfortunately, the “cloak of invisibility” is a real phenomenon. Therefore, I’m expanding my revolutionary call; bring more products and services (and an attitudinal shift) to the general marketplace for all Mid-lifers.

In a 2011 article about growing strong in middle age, clinical psychologist Mindy Greenstein, PhD, referred to mid-life as “Life’s Long, Lovely, Afternoon.” A fitting analogy since we spend more time (4 decades) in mid-life than any other life phase. I’ve got a secret for you; mid-life is a glorious life stage that feels like a sweet reward for surviving youth.

I’d like to think by recognizing the value of mid-lifers and utilizing the positive impacts they have on our world and economies, we will create stronger inter-generational connections, and reap the benefits of this ‘generative’ demographic.

It’s time for mid-lifers (especially mid-life brides) to throw off the cloak of invisibility and stand proud. It’s time to be recognized in the marketplace and stir up a revolution! Mid-lifers…we’re 116 million strong and we’re ready to do business. Let’s speak up and create a change!

Lisa Joiner

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