Every year, the average age that women are getting married creeps up a little bit. Depending on whom you believe, it's because women are going farther in their careers, we're opting to have children later in life, and/or because we don't feel the same pressure to get married in our early 20s, the way our own parents did.
I believe that's probably all true, but I think women (and men) have benefited from the more relaxed lifestyle choices today. It's almost expected for a couple to live together before exchanging vows. And that time together makes us wiser as we grow older. We don't make rash decisions in the hopes that we'll like living and making a life with somebody. Most of us try it out first, to make sure it works.
The fact that more women are getting married in their mid-to-late 30s changes the demographics of who is attending a wedding when the bride and groom are closer to 40 than to 20. Take a look at your guest list — if most of your guests are in their 30s or above, understanding the following five things may make your wedding planning more pleasant.
1. Many of your friends will have to work around family commitments if they have children. You'll need to decide early on if you're going to include their little darlings in the wedding invitation, in order to give everybody time to make childcare arrangements if you are not. When you opt to invite children, you need to plan to make some accommodation for them, especially if they're too little to enjoy late-night festivities.
2. Older guests prefer to make their own travel and accommodations selections. They have preferred hotels and airlines, and they like to get their points, and the whole traveling together like a "party bus" concept might not appeal to your more sophisticated guests.
3. You might want to reconsider having a giant wedding party. If a lot of your friends are already married, they all understand the pressure the bride feels to include everybody. But they also understand how unimportant being asked to wear matching dresses really is, in the grander scheme of things. Many of your friends might be pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, and therefore unsure of what they can commit to more than a couple of months ahead. Choose your sister and a good friend whom you know will actually enjoy the honor. You can always add to the group if you feel like something is lacking.
4. People are snarky about wedding posts on social media. You need to be a bit more cautious about over-publicizing your wedding than your friends might have been years ago. It may be hard to restrict your postings to just a few interesting articles — especially if you vividly remember envying your girlfriends who shared every little detail when they were marrying their college sweethearts 10-plus years ago — but you need to consider how many people on your "friends list" you're actually inviting to your big day. Chances are, you haven't seen most of them in a decade or even longer, so in my professional opinion, this is one of those cases where less is more.
5. You will have friends who have a "been there, done this" attitude about your wedding... Ignore them! This is your wedding, and just because you didn't rush down the aisle years ago doesn't make it any less special. Those are the folks you don't need to include in your wedding party, even if you were in their weddings 10 years ago. Surround yourselves with the friends and family who are as pumped as you are about the impending wedding.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.