Last updated on Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:29 pm
We met, fell in love and were married. Only we did it in our 50s
There were a few ways I used to imagine my wedding day when I was growing up. To be honest, I wasn’t passionately bothered about it actually happening, but if – with a heavy emphasis on the if – it did, well, I had a few ideas of how it would go down.
On a beach maybe, in Goa, barefoot on the sand, with fresh mangoes and a tiger prawn and dal curry for our wedding feast. Or a quick trip to the court house, arriving in a black car, dressed in a vintage Chanel suit, carrying a simple posy of roses from my mother’s garden, followed by an old-fashioned, earthy knees-up at a local restaurant.
In every scenario, my groom was young and dashing, maybe a little bohemian and tanned. And me? Well, naturally, I’d be young, too, wouldn’t I? In my 20s or 30s. Hair still glossy and youthful, waist wasp-like, skin flushed and dewy.
I certainly never envisioned myself to be in my 50s, way beyond the flush of youth.
Yet that’s what happened, last July, when I married my husband Kevin when I was 53. And I should point out that this was my first marriage (although not his).
Nor had we lived together for decades and only formalised our union for administrative reasons.
In that respect, we were very traditional; we met, fell in love and were married. Only we did it in our 50s.
Older first-time brides are becoming more common
Older first-time brides are becoming more common, it seems. The Office for National Statistics revealed earlier this year that the average age of brides has passed 35 for the first time, with only four in 10 brides under 30 in England and Wales in 2015.
The reasons were easily explained: couples are waiting longer, living together and raising families before getting married. Nor is there the societal pressure for people to marry nowadays.
Around 35% of the population never enters into marriage at all. Although a sizeable proportion of these people will, nevertheless, be in faithful, monogamous relationships, it remains an unshakeable fact that soaring numbers of people in the UK (and the rest of the world) live alone.
We’ve come a long way…
We’ve come a long way from a single woman in her 50s living on her own being seen as an object of pity, too. They’re more likely to be called a ‘career girl’ in 2018 than a ‘spinster’. So it’s perfectly understandable that many, like me until last year, don’t bother at all.
Why did I bother, then? I was long past my child-bearing years and Kevin, who’s an engineer and the same age as me, has two grown-up daughters from his first marriage and didn’t want any more.
The timing was absolutely right: connecting in our 50s, we’d grown towards each other and this was the perfect age for us to marry
I was financially independent, with my own bridal accessories design business and two properties. I had no need to get married. But that is what makes our story so romantic and, in my view, weddings of older people like us so special.
I married him because I loved him, pure and simple
There were no expectations or pressures; just two people who loved each other so much, that they wanted to get married. In a church. With a pastor. And with me in a white dress and veil. Honestly, if you’d described this to me as that young, idealistic dreamer of my youth, I would have laughed.
But, most importantly, we have fun. We feel blessed to have found each other at a time of life when we were expecting, and were quite comfortable, to remain single forever. I cannot see any circumstances arising that would drive us apart. There are no financial conflicts. Kevin doesn’t support me, nor I him.
At 53, he much prefers a nice home-cooked steak and good bottle of red in front of the fire to nightclubs, so I can’t see him chasing down a young filly anytime soon. Nor me, if the inclination was even there!
Until I met Kevin, I would describe myself as a serial monogamist. I’d had several long-term relationships, none of which lasted more than a couple of years. Most – OK, all – broke down at my instigation.
I suppose what kept me flexible was the fact I never felt maternal. I like children – I am devoted to my sister’s two, Lois, who’s 21, and Joe, who’s 18, and Kevin’s girls, Luella, 22, and Clover, 19 – but I never felt the lure to have any of my own.
That meant when a flaw showed in a relationship, I instantly started looking around for something better. Most of the time, I was happy. I had a fantastic social life with an enormous circle of friends – but was I content? Probably not.
Kevin, meanwhile, was in a totally different situation. We actually knew each other at school and were in the same year, although we had different sets of friends and didn’t keep in touch.
He married a local woman when he was 26 and, apart from his time at university, never lived more than around 20km from his childhood home. He and his wife grew apart and separated a couple of years before Kevin and I met. A school friend had died and we found ourselves at the memorial and just about remembered each other’s names. We were both in our late 40s. I was, once again, single and was concentrating on building up my business.
Kevin was a divorced dad, who, when he wasn’t working, was doing his share of childcare. A few weeks later, he invited me out for dinner.
I’d never dated a proper ‘dad’ before – someone who had two children who came before me. He didn’t seem in a rush to settle down, either. After one divorce, he wasn’t in any hurry to risk another.
All we had to do was have some fun – and we did. I introduced him to the city, music festivals and art galleries. He introduced me to family weekends when the girls came to stay and we went ice-skating and had tea parties.
After a couple of years, my business was doing so well that I took the plunge and gave up my day job. It made sense for me to stay with Kevin while I established a reliable cash flow.
And, suddenly, I found myself living with a man, as a couple.
We started to own things together – first, a new kettle, and then a bank account – and had huge family braais in the garden with his extended family and mine blending together. I found I liked it – a lot.
One evening in 2016, when we had been together seven years, Kevin had been away on business in for a week.
After years of railing against conventionality, I adored designing my dress and organising my seating plan
We were enjoying a cosy night in and discussing our plans for the weekend. He wanted to see his ‘crew’, as he put it. I wanted to see ‘my crew’ – my mum and sister.
Suddenly, there was an epiphany. Kevin said he wanted to make it ‘our’ crew, one big family. He wanted to get married and asked me. There was no ring, no dropped knee, just a simple question. Would I?
Well, I was flabbergasted. Was he actually serious?
He was, and suddenly, I was, too. The timing was absolutely right: connecting in our 50s, we’d grown towards each other and this was the perfect age for us to marry.
We could have stayed living together in a committed relationship, but a wedding was a public celebration and confirmation of something of which we were extremely proud
Yes, we could have stayed living together in a committed relationship, but a wedding was a public celebration and confirmation of something of which we were extremely proud.
My family were shocked – I suspect a few doubted we’d actually see this plan through to fruition – but then, the invitations were issued and the day arrived.
We married in our home town last July. My nephew Joe gave me away.
After years of railing against conventionality, I adored designing my dress and organising my seating plan.
As a mature bride in my 50s, I didn’t have the element of parental control over arrangements, either, which I know my sister did 20 years earlier. This was our day, arranged by us, and our families were honoured guests.
Although I adore being married, I’m afraid to say, eight months into our solemnised union, I still haven’t taken the plunge and taken my husband’s name. After 53 years, my name feels a part of me and I really cannot envisage ever taking another one.
Nevertheless, I like seeing Mr and Mrs on letters as they drop on to the doormat, and, most of all, I love the sound of Kevin’s key in the door at night.
I love being here, married to him and knowing that’s how it’s going to be forever.
Article by Heather Cooper, first published on the © Daily Mail
Author: ANA Newswire