with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: non-tradtional brides

Book review: “Love For Grown-Ups”

by SweetMidlife

Here at Bride at 35, we’re all about creating your own traditions, which is why we dig the idea of The Garter Brides, friends over 35 who passed on their wedding garters to each other, and then kept it going – my sister Lynne described it as the grow-up version of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Neither of us wore garters for our special days, but we like the idea.

And I liked their book, “Love For Grown-Ups: The Garter Brides’ Guide To Marrying For Life When You’ve Already Got A Life,” because it fits in so much with our own philosophy. We set out to talk about what brides over 35 go through, but have realized that our audience is more than women who’ve either gotten their rings or are dusting off their wedding photos. It’s those who haven’t found their soul mate yet but like the blog because it gives them hope. Love happens when it happens, and sometimes that’s later than you thought.

That’s the sweet, honest charm of “Love For Grown-Ups,” credited to the original Garter Brides Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl, and Trish Rabe. With advice ranging from dating to what to wear at the wedding, the writers reference not only their own experiences but those of other brides.

To me, the varied nature of that advice is what makes the book works, because it acknowledges that no two women are alike – that’s one of the major fails of some wedding industry advice, that assumes that everyone’s the same. The Brides talk about how sometimes, over 35, you’ll be with someone who has kids, or maybe you do. Maybe it’s your first wedding, or your third.

There’s a very detailed chapter called “Who Are All These People?” that talks about becoming a part of someone’s life when that life is full of friends, family, maybe kids. How do you deal with that? This is the chapter I think I’d have found the most valuable had I read it before I got married, because both my husband and I have, and have had full lives whose human parts didn’t always initially mesh smoothly – I’d been unmarried for 37 years when I started dating Scott, and it was an adjustment.

And that, again, is why I liked the book – You are not alone as a single 35-year-old, and you’ve got sisters all around the world who want to share their experiences with you. That means, of course, that not all of the experiences will relate to you. Of course, it’s interesting to read about stuff that happens to other people, but there were parts that seemed to assume that most of the women reading the book had already been married at least once, or that their spouse- t0-be had. Neither Lynne or I had, and neither of us had considered wearing a non-traditional wedding dress or forgoing bridesmaids or not doing anything we wanted just because of our age.

And to its credit, the book is most specific about something we’re adamant about – there is no one way to get married, or fall in love, or be a wife, or a mom, or a stepdaughter. It’s an easy read, which I devoured on a three-hour bus trip to New York last week. You’ll enjoy it. Again, depending on who you are, you might not not relate to every piece of advice. But that’s life. It’s breezy, fun and a worthwhile guide.


Run, Bride, Run!!

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne Streeter Childress

So, yesterday, my sister Leslie wrote about “Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss”, and she talked briefly about her own wedding dress shopping experience, when she bought a beautiful sample dress at an intimate salon in Maryland. Well, my wedding dress story was a bit different. First of all, I bought my dress before I was officially engaged.

A little back-story…

Last year, my now-husband and I started pre-engagement counseling; this meant that we wanted to get married, but got all of our stuff out on the table before there were rings and down payments and stuff.  After we completed our sessions, AC said that the only thing left was for him to get the ring. This started a period where every time he bent down to tie his shoe or reach into his pocket to get a breath strip, my heart started beating really fast.   Since I couldn’t predict when the actual proposal was coming, I moved onto other matters. See, I knew that Filene’s Basement’s annual Running of the Brides was coming to my area. This is a once a year, one-day event staggered throughout the year and around the country where tons and tons of designer bridal gowns are WAY-discounted, starting at like $249.   It’s so named because, like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, people sprint wildly through enclosed spaces, dodging danger. Only instead of running away from charging animals, brides, many who have been waiting in line for hours outside the store waiting for the 8am door opening, are running towards racks and racks of beautiful dresses at insane prices.  I love when people complement my earrings and I say, “$4 at Target!!”, and I feel all smart and happy that I could spend the extra $ on those petite vanilla scone things at Starbucks. So spending less money on a wedding dress could mean I could spend what I saved on scones for everybody!! Which is why I asked A.C. if it was appropriate for me to attend such a sale to purchase a dress of such a kind for such an occasion that might be happening since he had already asked for my ring size and for me to send him pictures of what I liked.  And he said yes. So I made some phone calls.

So on July 30 of last year,  5 of my best friends (including the Leslie, who flew in just for me because she rocks) gathered at my house, and we embarked on trip to find me a wedding dress.   I had done some research on the Filene’s website, plus done a mess of Googling, and I came up with a game plan of how the day would go.  It turned out to be an AMAZING, AMAZING day, and here are some of my tips on manuvering the day, if you go to an upcoming Running.

  • Assemble a team of folks whose opinion you trust and make them dress alike.  The friends who helped me look for a dress were all people who know me really well, and want me to be happy, but not to look like a hot mess.  They all have STRONG views, but I knew they would be helpful and supportive.   I also asked them to all wear red, so we would be able to identify each other during the madness, but also because it made us feel like a unified group on a mission. Plus there were dollar store tiaras involved.  Here’s my dear Maria and I getting all Starbucked-up for the journey…

Maria and me, getting all caffeined-up for the trip

  • Go later in the day.  I know that there is an an excitement in standing on line with people for a common purpose, but I also knew that I did not want to fight people and rip dresses and trip and have to bail out my bridal party as “Meeting in the Ladies’ Room” plays on the store speakers (Klymaxx shout-out!!!).  I heard that you could go later in the day and still find good deals. So we went around 11:30. There were still PLENTY of dresses left, but they were now hung back up. And there was still lots of excitement and lots of people, and although we didn’t have to punch people, Maria did have to tell a few other brides to keep moving as they eyed the pile of dresses we gad assembled and were considering.
  • Be a little bold.  The dresses are on long racks in the middle of the store, and brides and their teams grab dresses and bring them to their bride, who has staked out a spot in the main showroom. Because you don’t use dressing rooms.  The Filene’s people advise wearing bathing suits because they cover you up but aren’t bulky. I wore a strapless bra and bike shorts.  Of course I wouldn’t normally shop in that, but again, it kind of added to the whole group feel, because all of the other brides were wearing the same thing.
  • Know what you like, but be willing to change your mind. I had gone through bridal magazines and ripped out pictures of dresses I thought would be good, and I handed them to my friends before we left so they would have an idea of what I was looking for.  Many of them were what Leslie calls “The Voice of Spring” dresses; floaty and romantic.  But I also know from my many hours of “Say Yes to the Dress” watching that brides often choose a dress that’s nothing like what they THOUGHT they wanted. This is why I had my friends pick all of the dresses that they could find in my size, a bridal 14 or 16.  (Another note: My friends brought me a good 15 dresses or more that day, all in larger sizes. This sale is a GREAT place for girls with curves to actually be able to try on dresses that they can actually wear).
  • Go with your gut. So we narrowed it down to 2 dresses. One was a beautiful almost-champagne colored strapless A-line that had no detail but a thin band of jewels under the bust, accented with a small bow. It was a grown-up dress, that made me feel really elegant, and actually made me tear-up a bit when I looked in the mirror, and was the fave of several in our party. The other was also an A-line, but more of the Voice of Spring variety.  It had these crazy embroidered detachable sleeves, beading across the top, and embroidery on the bust. Then there was the train. It was long and flouncy and had more embroidered flowers and when I looked behind myself in the mirror, I felt light and giggly and like I always thought I would feel. And in the end, even though the first dress made me cry in a good way, I went with the one that made me smile. And everyone was happy!!
  • Make a party out of it by including those you love.  In the end, not only did I have an amazing dress to wear on the big day, but I had whole day with some of my favorite people, and we laughed and loved and ran and oohed and ahhed and tried to zip up some things that wouldn’t zip and were all treated to a victory lunch by my roommate, where we texted pictures of the dress to my mom in Arkansas, and called my grandma and described what I got. The dress itself  it was a group-buy, with contributions by myself, my sister, and a dear, dear friend who prefers to stay anonymous but made a really, really, sweet gift towards the purchase of the dress. That’s love.

So, we pulled up to my house at the same time as AC, who was meeting Leslie, her husband and me to go to a party. We made him close his eyes and hide in the kitchen until I got to hide the dress upstairs where he wouldn’t see it. That was Friday.  And 2 days later, after church, and lunch, and a George Clooney movie on DVD,  he pulled out this little box that he actually had had with him on Friday and he opened it, and I couldn’t breathe, and he asked if he could put what was in the box on my left hand, and I said yes, and we kinda stared at at each other, and it was blurry and somewhere in there I said that if there was a question attached to this then the answer was yes and he said that if I wanted to keep it, I had to marry him and I said I could do that.

And 2 months later, I walked down the aisle in the smiley floaty dress, surrounded by my friends and family, feeling as pretty as I ever have.  In the end, though, it’s not about the dress, but about WHY you’re wearing it, and who you are walking down the aisle in it to meet.  And if you got that part right, then you’ve already gotten the best deal ever.


The Inaugural Bride at 35 Book Club!!

by SweetMidlife

Hey, this is Lynne, one of the Brides at 35.

So, I was in a Borders in San Antonio last week with my husband perusing the stacks for something to read for the plane trip home when I came across Emily Giffin’s book, “Baby Proof”.  It’s about a couple in their 30’s who get married because of all they have in common, including the non-desire to have kids.  All is going well, until a few years into the marriage, when the husband changes his mind. This caught my attention, because as newly-married people, my husband and I traded “So when are you gonna get married?” for “So when are you gonna have kids?” as the question we hear most often.  The question looms, though, since he’s in his 40’s, and I will be by this time next week (Yep, that’s happening).  And it’s not just because other people ask; we both really want them, but wanted to get a hang of this marriage thing first. Still, every time I see a baby, I get a bit giddy. We hung out with our 4 nephews in TX, and the 7 month old and 2 year old are hilarious, and the 7 year-old and 11 year-old are smart and polite and sweet and just cool people, and after a week with them, the baby thing was way up on things I was thinking about that day in the bookstore.

So I bought the book, and I read it on the plane, and it was the first time in a long time that I couldn’t put a book down. It’s funny and touches not on just the desire to have or not have children, but also issues of infertility, or what you give up of your current life when you have kids or a spouse, but mostly about what you will or won’t do for love.  It really made me think, and I think it will make YOU think too (and I say this to all of you guys, whether single, married, parent or not will get something out of this book because it has something for everybody).

So I propose this….

BOOK CLUB!! BOOK CLUB!!

I want y’all to do this….

– Go out and buy “Baby Proof” or get it from the library (there is a picture of it above. It’s yellow)

-Write us at bride35@gmail.com or on Facebook or Tweet us or something and tell us that you are in by this Monday, 4/25

– Read the book by May 20th (that’s a month), look at the Reading Group questions at the back of the book, and we will set-up an online conference and discuss the book

-We’ll print the exciting parts in our blog!!

So, you in? So far, it’s Leslie (the other Bride) and me. If we get 1 more person, it will be a go!!  Again, I think that most of you, Bride at 35 readers, will see yourself somewhere in this book. Let us know by Monday, April 25, and we will get our read-on!!

See ya then, we hope!


Happy Valentine’s Day from your Brides at 35!

by SweetMidlife

It’s the universally recognized day of love, folks, and your Bride at 35 team is joining their voices to the Cupid-covered fray to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are our special holiday wishes for all of you:

— That you have love, and lots of it;

— That you have someone to give your love to, all of it;

— That whatever your relationship status, that you believe strongly and completely in your right to be loved, and in the knowledge that love has no age limit or time buzzer.

And today, we want to hear everyone’s stories of love, no matter what your age! Tell us all about it, in the comment section of this here post. We need a little Valentine’s, right this very minute!

And have a chocolate heart on us! With bubbly, heart-y love,

Lynne and Leslie, the Brides at 35


Bride at 35 Presents Tales from the Hoboquarium – Inspirational Bad Dates!

by SweetMidlife

A dog who liked me more than my boyfriend did.

Or: Girl, we’ve felt your pain. Recently.

While we conceived this blog as a planning and inspirational guide for brides over 35, we’ve gotten some really encouraging feedback from women who aren’t, in some cases, even in relationships. They just like reading stories that prove that there’s hope, that there is someone out there in the world just waiting to meet them, even in the midst of BadDateLandia.

We like that. And because we’re full disclosure people, we’d like to add some more inspiration to the mix by sharing some of our bad dating stories that happened in our mid to late 30s. – in some cases as recently as three years ago. We do this because they’re horrifying and funny, and also because they happened within a blink of finding The One. Just think about it: That guy who breaks up with you via text message today could be the guy you’re pointing at and whispering about as you and your new man pass him, hand in hand, on the street. Not that you’re not more mature and grown-up than that. We sure aren’t.

Read the rest of this entry »


Indian destination weddings: Upscale twists on tradition

by SweetMidlife

To me, a small wedding means less than 50 guests; a large wedding is north of 150. But the other day, over drinks with my friend, upscale Indian wedding planner Amen Pawar-Larosa, she mentioned her “very small” Indian wedding in her native England, one of three nuptial celebrations she and husband Derek had.

“So how many people did you have at that one?” I asked.

“120,” Amen said casually, as if she was saying “Well, just me and Derek and my cousin Jerome.”

Clearly, we’re working with a different ruler when it comes to Indian weddings. This was particularly interesting to us at Bride At 35, because there’s an even greater expectation of marrying young in this culture than in the mainstream American one –  “It’s between 25 and 30, nothing older,” Amen says of the brides she helps with her wedding planning company, Pawar Inc.

So we like Amen’s concept because Pawar, Inc., like this blog, is about making tradition beautifully, uniquely your own – “To marry tradition and modern style,” she says. She got her start working for another planner who happened to book an Indian destination wedding – the bride met Amen and saw a kindred spirit, “which helped seal the deal.” After helping several similar brides, Amen decided to hang her own stylish shingle. She’s even seeing non-Indian brides, like singer Katy Perry, having Indian weddings, which she sees as not an appropriation of a culture but a celebration.

Here’s what you need to know:

— Amen wasn’t technically a Bride at 35, but given cultural equivalency, she might as well be – “To be married and have children by (the age of 28) is so expected,” she says. “My mum would get invited to so many weddings and wonder why I wasn’t getting married. She tried – ‘I have a nice guy coming to meet you!’ It was not happening.” Amen eventually married an Italian-Catholic New Yorker named Derek Larosa (They had three ceremonies: One with the Justice of the Peace, the Indian wedding in England and a blessing by Derek’s pastor in New York).

“We wanted it to be about us, but we saw how things were affecting our parents,” she says. “So we had these awesome parties and said ‘Do whatever you want to do.'”

— Why Indian destination weddings?: Well, why destination weddings, period? Brides want something beachy and probably warmer than their home town, both improving the scenery and cutting the guest list. Where the average guest list is somewhere around 300 for Indian weddings, Amen says, the destination weddings she’s seen host around 150. Although Miami has become a haven for these, Palm Beach, with its swanky hotels like the Breakers and the Four Seasons, “is a hidden gem that no one knows about,” she says. “The beauty of it is that is that you can cut down the guest list. The thing is, that these are well-to-do families, and they hear ‘The Breakers’ and bring the whole family. You think people aren’t going to come, but it’s a good assumption that more will than you think.” (Ain’t that the truth?)

— Many upscale hotels on Palm Beach have Indian chefs already in-house, “but nobody knows this,” Amen says. Well, they do now!

— Traditionally, if the wedding is held in the bride’s home town, it’s a several-day affair that includes an entire community, where the bride’s parents pay for everything. She says that the biggest adjustment has been trying to convince fathers that since “it’s not in their hometown, they don’t have to feed everyone for every meal the whole weekend.”

— Amen says  more and more of the weddings are keeping some traditions but bringing some new twists, like having one partner of a different religion or race,  decreasing the guest list and more – “A lot of these brides grew up in America. They love Louis Vuiton.The ceremony keeps the family element and blends those element with the latest, hipper styles.”

— I have never met an ethnic person who didn’t believe that their ethnicity is traditionally…tardy. Seriously, black people, Cubans, and apparently Indians have a self-recognized reputation for not starting things on time. Amen says that timeliness is the number one obstacle at the weddings that she’s planned – “Indian Standard Time!” she says, laughing. “Keeping everything on time is the priority. With hair and make-up being done I need everyone to be on time. I run a tight ship.”


The words of love on Gabrielle Giffords’ wedding band

by SweetMidlife

Like all of you, Lynne and I were shocked by the events of last Saturday in Tuscon, mourn the loss of the lost and pray for the recovery of the wounded and the nation. I personally was not familiar with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before this, but was struck not only by how reportedly steadfast stance on the issues she believes in, but her love story with husband (and astronaut!) Mark E. Kelly.

In case you don’t know this, Giffords didn’t get married (for the first time) until the age of 37 (she’s 40 now). Their courtship was kinda funny (their first date was a tour of a prison!) and they’re obviously successful, attractive people. They apparently met each other right when they were supposed to.

Giffords was, obviously, on my mind a lot this week, when my editor (I’m a reporter in my day job) sent me an email suggesting a Valentine’s Day story about the inscription inside Giffords’ and Kelly’s wedding bands. It’s “You’re the closest to heaven that I’ve ever been,” a line from the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.”

I’ve always loved that line, because it’s about vulnerability and self-contained happiness. And given that Kelly’s job is to fly into the heavens, yet he considers his wife more celestial, is awe-inspiring. I pray and hope as she recovers that their love gets to continue to soar.


Today’s Bride-At-35 Beauty Blast!!

by SweetMidlife
Part of being a bride is looking freaking awesome on your wedding day, and that doesn’t change when you’re north of 35.  We asked fabulous Charlotte-based stylist Caron (just Caron, because she has it like that), her thoughts. Caron has been in the beauty business for 22 years, working nationally as a stylist and as a national educator for a global beauty manufacturer.  She’s recently opened Noir, a salon that specializes in beautiful hair color and eyebrow styling.  In January, Noir will be opening the Wedding Suite, a place exclusively for wedding parties to get beautified on the big day, either in the salon or at your wedding site (stylists will even travel to your destination wedding! We want to come too!! Okay, back to the point…).
Here’s what Caron had to say about ageless beauty….
On Who’s Taking the Plunge:
“I am seeing brides in 2 age groups; either very young or older than me. Lately, I am seeing more women in their  late-30s to 60’s, some first timers and some getting remarried. The remarried ones are finding the courage to get married again after being bound to a bad marriage, but they are now bound by what’s “appropriate”, either because of what people are telling them, or because they don’t see themsleves in magazines.  But I saw one bride whose grandson walked her down the aisle.”
On Doing You:
“I had one client in her 40’s with very fine hair, and she wanted to
grow it out so she could wear her hair up for her wedding because that’s what people told her to do. This is a woman who (was choosing on her wedding day) to go barefoot, walking down the hallway of the home that she owned with her fiance’, but when I asked her why she wanted to wear her hair up, she didn’t know why. I told her to cut her hair and be herself, so on her wedding day she wore a short bob and a strapless gown and that is (supposed to be) a no-no at 46. She said that it was the best thing she could have done. It’s because it wasn’t a mask. It was her walking into the next part of her life.
Women grow their hair out for a year and cut it after their honeymoon. You can do what you want with your hair; showcase it; it is an asset; don’t hide it. You don’t have to work through a head of shellack on your wedding night.”
On Doing It Yourself, but With Some Help….
“The biggest mistake that people make is doing their own make-up without a professional lesson; there are ways to do it without breaking your bank or your heart- you need your guidance.”
On Embracing The Beauty That You Are RIGHT NOW:
“#1 advice- don’t focus or be so hard on what you look like now as opposed to how you looked the first time (you got married) or what you would have looked if you got married when you were younger. Where you are now is more beautiful than where you were at 22 because in your maturity because you know who you are,  and that produces a beauty that no make-up or hairdressing is going to accomplish.”
On True Radiance:
“A radiant bride is in 2 ways:  I know of a recent young bride; (when you are young) you can be happy because you are young and getting married; everything was in place. Everything went well. But the 46 year old bride I worked with was beautiful and was in her own hallway that she owned; her eyes were open. She wasn’t blinded by the perfection. You can’t top that day. (At that age) you see the possibilities and not the limitations. When you see a woman walk with grace and poise it’s a different kind of amazing.”

Why you should read this blog

by SweetMidlife

So you’re over 35 and you’re getting married! Maybe this is your second time (or third – we don’t judge). Or maybe, like us, this is your initial trip down the aisle fantastic, because you didn’t find anybody awesome enough to marry before now. Anyway, congrats (or in the words of Leslie’s husband’s people, Mazel Tov!)

Like any bride, you might be hitting the wedding salons, grabbing every magazine with the word “bride” in it, or Googling ideas for dresses and hairstyles and funky trendy places to get your photos taken (is EVERY  hipster wedding at a carnival now?).

And if you’ve done that already, you may have noticed that you’re apparently supposed to be the mother of the bride.

Because what else could explain the lack of women over the age of, we don’t know, 25, in bridal gowns in the ads at your national chain bridal emporiums? Or their absence in bridal magazine ads or most features that aren’t obviously meant to be a token inclusion so you won’t get disgusted and not pay $6 for their rag. Or just the weird looks you get when you walk into a bridal store and ask to try something on and the clerk tries not to look surprised when you say, yeah, the appointment’s for you.

Yeah, yeah, we know. Youth and beauty sells. And we get it. We fully expect beautiful, thin, young girls to populate those amazing, slinky, expensive gowns and to look awesome doing it. Here’s the thing – if you NEVER see yourself reflected in a store, or an ad, or in cool awesome blogs, you start to think that maybe you’re not supposed to be there. It’s like “Take your old wrinkly butt over to Chico’s bridal department…wait, they don’t have one? Whoops.”

Remember that awful Newsweek story from 1986 that said that women over 30 had only a 20 percent chance of getting married, and that for women over 40 that went down to 2 percent? First of all, screw that story. Apparently, it wasn’t even true then, and it certainly isn’t now. In 2006, Newsweek revealed that 40 year old women now have a 40 percent chance of getting married.  Now, that’s better, but we have a feeling that in this day and age of people waiting later and later to walk down the aisle that number will continue to grow. Shoot, among a random sampling of people whose last name is Streeter (our maiden name) and were born in April of 1971, that stat goes up to 100%!

Bottom line, we’re not the unicorn.  That’s why we wanted to provide a place for brides over 35 (or even those under 35, if you feel like it) to post their photos, look for advice, encouragement and signs that say: You’re not weird. You’re just in love!


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