How to Plan Your Over-40 Wedding

Photograph: iStock Photo

Donnie Brown has planned close to 2,100 weddings in his career. We spoke with the Dallas-based wedding consultant and picked his brain on tips and trends. Here, Donnie gives some sage advice on planning an over-40 fête.

MORE: What are over 40 brides wearing?

More than half of my clients go with traditional ivory or off-white wedding dresses, whether they’re getting married for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time. I have seen a lot of strapless dresses with empire waists. Over-40 brides choose less bling and less flash in terms of beading and lacework; instead you’ll see lots of silks and satins. It just really seems to work for them. I would recommend St. Pucchi  for the more elaborate bride; Maggie Sottero does a beautiful gown that is more affordable.

MORE: Tell us about the wedding party. How do you dress over 40 bridesmaids?

I talk a lot about mixing and matching the bridesmaids’ dresses. Your girlfriends have different body types. Why not let them wear something that flatters theirs? Let them select what works best because you want them to feel comfortable in what they have. Jim Hjelm makes bridesmaid dresses for every body type.

MORE: What kind of venues do midlife brides book?

With my older couples we book a lot of private clubs, country clubs, and intimate environments. We’ve even done weddings at the family home. Elegant atmospheres appeal to older couples— that’s why I love the Four Seasons. Their consistency from hotel to hotel is so incredibly well intact—from service to food, you know the quality will be great.

MORE: Tell us about the ceremony and reception. Is there as much pomp and circumstance as there is at younger weddings?

You’ll see more traditional, less contemporary, receptions as a rule. As they get older, couples are more set in their ways, especially with regard to food and beverage. I think more older brides walk down the aisle to the traditional wedding march, where as younger brides like to personalize their wedding.  I did have one older groom, however, who walked down the aisle to "Hail to the Chief."

MORE: What kind of advice would you give a bride who can’t afford a wedding planner?

I’d tell them to ask themselves, what kind of wedding is it that you want? How many guests do you foresee being there? Have you been dreaming about this wedding a long time? How have these dreams altered as you’ve gotten older? Get inside your own head and make a determination as to what you want, then find a way to make it happen.

Tune in December 9, 2009 to see Donnie in action on the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? His book, Donnie Brown Weddings: From the Couture to the Cake, is out now.

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