Over 55 and in love: Seniors make up 8 percent of wedding business
Couples age 55 and older made up just 8 percent of last year's $53 billion wedding business. But that number has doubled since 2002.
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As a result, older couples dish out about 10 percent to 15 percent more than the cost of the average wedding, which was $25,656 last year, down from the pre-recession peak in 2007 of $28,732, according to The Wedding Report.Skip to next paragraph
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That's meant big business for companies that cater to brides and grooms-to-be. Zaven Ghanimian, CEO of Simon G. Jewelry, which sells engagement rings and other jewelry to about 900 small stores across the country, says men in their late 50s and older have been investing more on engagement rings. A few years ago, they were spending $1,500 to $2,000; now, they're shelling out $4,000 to $8,000.
And at David's Bridal, the nation's largest bridal chain with 300 locations across the US, business from older couples has doubled in the past two years, compared with modest growth for the younger age group, says Brian Beitler, the chain's chief marketing officer. And while older customers represent only two to three percent of overall sales, the company expects that figure to keep growing.
And they're a lucrative bunch. David's Bridal, which is based in Conshohocken, Pa., says older brides spend about $700 to $800 on gowns, including accessories like necklaces. That's higher than the $500 to $600 that customers in their twenties and early thirties typically spend.
But older brides aren't just spending more, they're spending differently. For instance, in the past, older brides tended to stick with special-occasion dresses, but now they want more traditional wedding gowns.
"She's our dream bride," says Catalina Maddox, fashion director at David's Bridal. "She wants everything that the 25-year-old bride wants, but more."
The trend is so prevalent that David's Bridal is looking at ways to better connect with the older wedding crowd. In fact, its store in Danbury, Conn. recently held a bridal fashion show at a nearby nursing and rehabilitation facility; the event was a hit with the residents, the store says.
"It really sparked something," said Jenna McNamara, the assistant store manager at David's Bridal in Danbury, Conn., which has noticed residents in nearby retirement homes as customers for either weddings or commitment ceremonies. "We realized this was something huge."
Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld's, the New York City bridal salon that has the nation's biggest selection of designer bridal wear under one roof with more than 1,000 designs, also has seen a change in attitude in the last year or so among the older set. He said business from that group has doubled.