From The Heart: Getting Married Under 25

18 or 80

Will you marry me? The day after my university graduation, on our favourite beach in Northumberland and flask of tea in hand, was not the day I was expecting to hear that question. 24 hours before, I’d been throwing my mortarboard in the air and clubbing in Sheffield’s grimy Students Union. Plus, I was 21! Who gets engaged at 21?

18 or 80 1

Yes, we’d been together since we were in our mid-teens, but still! Of course, I said yes! Our families were thrilled, we had a lot of champagne and got a special discount at Alnwick Garden because the lady saw how happy we were, and we were in our little bubble.

It was incredible, and I completely forgot that in the wedding world, I’d be seen as a baby (side note: I went to one bridal shop who thought my mum was the one having the appointment, and her teenage daughter had come to help her)! The average age women get married in the UK is 30 (32 for men), so by the time I get married in July this year, I’ll still be 6 years off the average!

I recently read an article in the Guardian that described marriages in your early to mid 20s as ‘starter marriages’, that let you learn the lessons for your 30s and your ‘next marriage’ in a way that just living together can’t. This hurts my heart in ways I can’t even describe. That people would describe the relationship I’m entering into as a ‘starter marriage’, that is something to be endured and survived, rather than enjoyed, cherished and seen as having more time to spend the rest of your life with someone.Yes, there will be some people who rush into marriage young and split up before they’ve been married five years, but the same can be said for those who fall within the more conventional ‘marriage age’ bracket. Age does not necessarily bring maturity. Likewise, youth does not necessarily bring divorce.

I see marriage as an opportunity not to settle down, but to become more of a team than ever – to travel the world, establish careers, a household, an identity that brings us more adventure than we’ve ever had before, not to tether us down in the slightest. James makes me the happiest I’ve been, and we complement each other so strongly despite our differences, that I can’t see a time when I won’t want to come home to chat about what sort of youth work I’ve been doing, and hear about what sort of saving-the-world neurology stuff he’s been doing.

Of course, I know it won’t be as easy as that. Marriage is something that has to be built and worked on, more than any other relationship we’ll have. I fully expect that after a while, James talking about video games will drive me mad, and my constant need for a massage will annoy him; that sometimes he will be hard to love. And so will I.

But marriage wasn’t created to be easy – we’re all imperfect people trying to find our way in life. We just choose the person that we think we can get through it the best with!

We live in a throwaway culture, where marriage is viewed as the ‘next stage’ in a relationship, and that if it doesn’t work out, it can simply be abandoned. That humans aren’t meant to be monogamous and it’s only human nature to want to move on and get bored. That the feeling of being in love and feeling butterflies in our stomach is the only thing that should keep us together.

But that is what makes marriage so special, that we go against our instincts to sow our wild oats, and commit for life to one person. It doesn’t matter to me that my 20’s won’t be taken up with one night stands, or that I’ll never kiss another man in my life.

Yes, it started out being difficult speaking to suppliers face to face – being looked up and down when I wasn’t with my mam. Not being allowed out of the dressing room in a bridal boutique is a complete low point of this engagement!

But the realisation that every bride is worth being treated the same, whether they’re 18 or 80, has worked wonders for me. The Love My Dress private group has been completely invaluable for my confidence, because no one judges the other on their choices, their age, their demographic – if you haven’t already joined this group (which Love My Dress founder Annabel set up as a community for brides to be and newlyweds) then you need to.

Through planning this incredible event that will join two families together and create a new family of two, I feel so much more empowered and self-assured than I ever have done, even though it’s been so difficult at times (never mind taking 200 History students to Prague, weddings are SO much harder!), and I am more sure of my future than I ever have been.

Love to all my fellow under-25 brides due to be married soon.

Emily x



The author of this feature is Emily Thompson, who you can connect with on Instagram @emilythompson1992. Emily has kindly contributed to our ‘From The Heart’ series, a collection of posts written by members of our reader community, on all matters of life and love. If you would like to contribute a From The Heart piece of your own, we would dearly love to hear from you. It doesn’t matter what it’s about and it doesn’t have to be related to weddings at all – we’re looking for honest, authentic, personal, sad, happy, family, relationship, marriage, health, light-hearted, serious, baby, trying for baby, children, career, simple, complicated – real life issues.  We just need you to write from your heart. Keep it upbeat and witty, or share your thoughts anonymously on a more challenging or emotional subject. Please drop me a line at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you, Annabel x

13 thoughts on “From The Heart: Getting Married Under 25

  1. Hi Emily

    I’m 25 in April and getting married in September and my oh will be 26 a few weeks after we get married. I agree with everything you have said! We got engaged last year and have been together nearly 10 years, marriage had been on the cards before that but we felt we couldn’t start on the journey because everyone felt we were too young and even now some people raise eyebrows!
    My parents got together young and married at 23 , they were married 20 years before they divorced and I think they were quite hesitant about me being in a long term relationship so young but it made me even more determined that this is what I want! I am so looking forward to being part of a family of 2( plus fur babies)! I’m a member of the group but wanted to post here because I remember how much I loved seeing the comments from my FTH post! Xx

  2. This is a lovely article Emily and it’s really highlighted something that I wasn’t aware would still happen in this day and age! I met the man I love at the young age of 20 and we were together 3 and a half years before we got engaged. All of my friends and family had been asking us when it would happen for years. It didn’t really come as a surprise to any of my family and friends when it did happen but of course everyone was very happy for us and I was definitely surprised. I didn’t think I’d ever yet married. I can’t say I’ve noticed funny looks but I suppose I probably look a bit older than I am. My fiance is 9 years older so I do wonder if that changes things at all. I do worry about what suppliers might say when he’s not by my side, like when I’m trying on dresses. It definitely doesn’t matter how old you are. All that matters is that you’re in love and know that you couldn’t spend the rest of your life without your other half. Xx

  3. When you say “yes” you’re not just saying that you want to be someone’s wife, you are saying that you want to spend your life with that person. Why should it matter whether you make that decision at 21, or 71? People will always have an opinion and share it with you (whether you ask them to or not!!) but ignore them. You do you. My parents married on my mum’s 21st birthday and are still happily married and the best of friends. They have so many happy memories over the years. My godmother (and parents’ bridesmaid) married on her 50th birthday, having been engaged to someone else once before. Her and her hubby are so well suited and she’s so happy she didn’t marry her ex. Age doesn’t matter. Here’s wishing you and James lots of happiness and adventures together X

  4. I don’t know know why everyone around us seems to think that they know better what we need than we do? Anyway, my mum and dad got engaged when my mum was 17, they had their engagement party on my mum’s 18th birthday, and married 3 months later, less than 5 months after they originally met (dad asked mum to marry him for the first time two weeks after they met, she laughed at him). This October they will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, less than 2 months after my fiancé and I get married. They were accused of mum being pregnant, dad wanting a British passport (he’s Polish). And all sorts of other things. My mum’s mum didn’t even go to their wedding she disapproved so much. But 30 years on, he still has a Polish passport and I didn’t turn up until 4 years after their wedding, so they really just must have known they were each others’ soul mates, and everyone else has been proven wrong. I wish you all the love and happiness in the world Emily, who cares what other people think, it’s only the people who love and support you who count anyway.

  5. This was a lovely article and I agree wholeheartedly – I don’t see why people need to share their opinions on a bride’s age, whether 20 or 50! You know your relationship better than anyone else after all!
    Although I got married at 27, we got engaged when I was 22 and still at university (after having been together a year!). I’m sure lots of people muttered about our ages at the time but honestly, their opinions weren’t needed! I knew from the day I met my husband that he was the one for me and am happy to say that nearly 8 years later I’m still firmly confident in my decision to say yes all that time ago 🙂 xx

  6. It is good to hear you are more confident as you go through your wedding journey Emily! It is sad to think you have had to experience judgement during such a wonderful time. I am getting married in 3 months to my other half who I have been with for 10 years after meeting again at college at 17 (we had lived in the same village when we were 3 and I had been best friends with his twin sister before they moved away). I have come across some judgement to being in a long term relationship from a young age, but I would change NOTHING. Do not listen to the statistics, numbers and averages, these no way reflect each individual relationship. The only opinions that matter are yours and your other half! Enjoy every minute leading up to the day and every minute after. Have such a wonderful day! xxx

  7. I really enjoyed this from the heart feature – It’s so important to not let society dictate the way you are “supposed” to do something or “supposed” to enjoy something. Everyone has such a different life and such different expectations it would be ridiculous to expect everyone to do everything at the same time! (also wedding season is busy enough as it is, imagine if EVERYONE you knew got married in the same year! Jeez!). Love is universal and joyous no matter what age anyone is!

  8. I have only just found this article Emily, thank you for sharing. Every word is spot on! I was in disbelief when I read the term ‘starter marriage’. I love how you ultimately describe the experience as empowering you and you’ve used it to your advantage to manage challenges in other areas of your life. Very inspiring! I will be 29 when I get married. However most people assume I’m younger (I’m petite with a ‘fat face that won’t wrinkle’- according to my wonderful Grandma!). I don’t mind being asked for ID, I can just about cope with being asked ‘when do you qualify?’ , or being referred to as ‘a junior’ by someone at work who doesn’t know me-in fact I’ve been working for 7 years and my career has progressed quite nicely thank you very much- I’m not a flipping junior!! People like to tell you that it’s a compliment to look young, but I have sometimes struggled to see that when I feel people are making assumptions about my knowledge and life experience. It can feel patronising. I think with the majority of wedding suppliers, it hasn’t actually occurred to me that they might be wondering about my age. I did find one or two a bit patronising, but didn’t rate the venue or their attitude in general so I suppose I didn’t give it much thought as to whether they thought I or we were young. People are silly! I wish you lots of fun and happiness in planning and preparing for your marriage Emily xxx

  9. Love this! My husband was 24 and I was 23 when we got married last September and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said about our throw away society and how marriage is seen nowadays. I hate it.

    Let’s prove them wrong! Have the best day getting married and thank you for this blog post!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *