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Hall says Kleinfeld’s older clients are spending $4,000 to $7,000 for a gown. That compares with the average purchase of $3,500 for the under-30 set.
"They used to be subtle," Hall says. "Now, they’re saying, ‘Who cares? It’s my day.’ They want the dress."
That’s especially true for older first-time brides.
At 64, Yolanda Royal, who lives in Irvington, N.J., is preparing for her first wedding next July. After living together for 20 years, her partner popped the question in May. The couple plan to spend about $11,000 on the reception for about 100 people, but for Royal, it’s all about the dress. After that’s secured, the other details will fall in place, she says.
Royal, a nursing attendant, was at David’s Bridal in Manhattan with her 41-year-old niece on a recent Friday, trying on white wedding gowns that had small trains. Royal, who says she wants something "sexy," tried everything from off-the-shoulder to strapless designs.
"For my wedding, for my day, I want the dress I want," says Royal, who did not want to give details about the gown she settled on because she wants to surprise her future husband. "I really don’t think about age. I think age is something that people shouldn’t think about. It’s all about your life and the way you feel. I feel good about myself and my life."
That’s not to say that some brides planning big weddings aren’t getting any pushback from their friends or relatives. For instance, Joan Hunter, a 76-year-old widow for 33 years, is planning a big wedding with her fiancé, Guido Campanile, an 87-year-old widower, for October.
The couple are spending $10,000 on the reception, which will be at a wedding hall. They are planning to have 10 people in the wedding party, including her two grown sons, ages 56 and 54, who will be giving her away, and her 5-year-old great-grandson, who will serve as the ring bearer. The couple also hired a DJ and a florist who is creating a floral arch.
When Hunter told her sons of her plans, they thought she was "crazy." They wondered why she wasn’t just eloping to Las Vegas. "I told my kids that this may well be my last big party," says Hunter, who lives in Rosemead, Calif. "I’m really young at heart. I just wanted to do something that everyone would remember."
Still, the older bride has limits. She plans to throw a bouquet and is considering wearing a garter belt, but she will not be wearing white. Instead, she’s planning to don a taupe gown she purchased at David’s Bridal.
"I felt white wasn’t appropriate for me," says Hunter, who will be wearing a chiffon gown with a fitted bodice and layers of ruffles cascading from the waist.
Apparently, the groom has limits, too. He proposed by giving Hunter a 5 1/2-carat diamond ring. But he stopped short of getting down on one knee.
"He did not get on his knees. That’s for sure," Hunter said with a laugh. "He may not have gotten back up again."
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