Meghan Markle married Prince Harry at age 36. Amal Clooney was the same age when she tied the knot with George Clooney. Ditto for when Serena Williams walked down the aisle.
These days, an increasing number of women, not just celebrities, are deciding to get hitched later in life. As women continue to outnumber men in colleges, more of them are focusing on building a life of their own, prioritizing careers and independent success, before settling down. Today, the average age for a woman’s first marriage is 27 and 29 for men, significantly higher than back in 1990, when the average age was 23 for women and 26 for men.
And yet, I’m what you might call an outlier. Even though I never actually planned on getting married young, and was certainly never one of those who dreamt about my wedding since I was a little girl—in fact, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do it—I ended up meeting my husband when I was only a year out of college. We became inseparable, moved in together, and ended up getting married when I was only 24 years old.
As is the case with everything, there are pros and cons to getting married so young—although in my completely unbiased opinion, the positives far outweigh the negative. But in the sake of oversharing, I’m here to tell you what I learned along the way.
It’s good to do some research first.
Even though your wallet might not agree, I’ve learned that it’s actually beneficial to attend a few dozen weddings in your late 20s and early 30s. Wedding seasons can double as research by helping you figure out exactly what you want and don’t want to do for your own wedding. For example, I realized I would have much preferred to have had a day wedding after attending a friend’s garden party reception in the afternoon. (Sadly, this was four years after I got married.)
But it’s also an advantage to be the first to walk down the aisle.
How many times have you gone to a barn wedding? Or seen the bride wear a floral crown? Or seen a bachelorette party in Tulum on Instagram? The point is, weddings go through trends, and the good thing about being one of the first ones to get hitched is that you get to try out something before everyone else, and before it starts to feel done.
You get to grow up together.
While some young newlyweds end up outgrowing each other, other couples love growing up together. In my case, I went through most of my 20s with my husband by my side, but that didn’t mean we just stayed at home on Friday nights and watched Netflix. We went out and did wild things just like all of our single or unmarried friends, but we were lucky enough not to have to endure bad Tinder dates along the way—we also had a handy hangover partner on Sunday mornings. It’s fun to be young and reckless with the person you love, it also gives you plenty of colorful memories to share with your grandkids later on in life.
But you also might grow apart.
A friend of mine got engaged at 23, married at 24, and divorced by 27. She mostly blames the end of her relationship on the fact that they grew apart as she grew up. When she got engaged, she was fresh out of college and had barely started adulting. Once she settled into her grown up life, she realized she was outgrowing her partner. It’s a risk people take when they decide to commit to someone else at such a young age, and sometimes it backfires.
You have someone to lean on during some important years.
Someone once said that getting married young is like a startup, while getting married later is more of a merger. In a startup marriage, a couple weathers early careers and financial uncertainty together, while a merger marriage is more about figuring out how to join the lives of two financially stable and successful adults. The great thing about a startup marriage is that you essentially have a consigliere by your side throughout those crucial early beginnings. You have someone that can hand out important advice, or pick you up when you’re going through a rough patch. And while making it on your own is definitely admirable, having a partner along the way also has its perks.
But you also might feel like you didn’t sow enough wild oats.
Do I sometimes have dreams about Ryan Gosling? Sure. Does it ever cross my mind that I’ll never have another first kiss? Of course! Do I ever meet someone who I think is super cute and fun and think that in another life we could’ve gone out on a date? Yes, I’m only human! While I’ve never been tempted to stray from my vows (even by that cute barista at my coffee shop) some might find settling down early on harder than others. And that’s ok, commitment at a young age isn’t for everyone. It’s better to wait and be certain than to rush into something you might regret down the line.
You have less pressure to start a family.
Meghan Markle hadn’t finished walking down the aisle when commentators were already wondering when the future Duchess of Sussex was going to have kids. And let’s face it, it’s a valid question considering the bride was 36 years old and her biological clock is ticking. Another unspoken benefit of getting married young is that nobody will be bugging you about when you plan to have kids for a good amount of years. And while this might seem like something minor, you’d be surprised at how tiresome it gets to have to explain your reproductive choices over and over again to your family.
It ultimately makes you a less cynical.
My friends say I’m terrible at giving out relationship advice because I always believe people have the best of intentions. (I’m the person who thinks somebody is busy or out of town when he or she is clearly ghosting my friends.) That blind optimism might have something to do with the fact that my husband and I made a lifelong commitment to each other so early on; we were sure we wanted to be together above everything else. That commitment ended up making me less cynical, more willing to believe in happy endings. And I for one much rather be a glass-is-half-full-kind of person any day of the week.