My sister-in-law is engaged to be married and she has been married once before, which got me to thinking about second weddings. And third weddings and fourth weddings, all of which my very own father has had. It’s a very interesting topic and one I’m rather familiar with, having been to second weddings that were nothing more than a recitation of vows with the requisite number of witnesses present and second weddings that included white wedding dresses, tiered cakes, and all of the other accessories one associates with the traditional wedding.
As divorce and remarriage (due to divorce or the death of a spouse) become more common, I think we’re going to see less of the former second weddings and more of the latter second weddings. The “rules” surrounding second weddings have been relaxed, if in fact they even exist at all anymore. Still, there remain many myths about second weddings floating around that cause second-time brides and second-time grooms no end of anxiety. Imagine trying to plan a wedding and thinking that all of the things you truly want are verboten! Tragic, no? So let’s clear a few things up just in case any of the above applies to our readers.
Myth: Second-time brides and grooms shouldn’t have big and/or formal wedding ceremonies.
And why not? Divorce isn’t something people whisper about anymore — remarrying is nothing to be ashamed of and should be celebrated. Plus, as was mentioned in the comments, divorce isn’t the only reason people remarry… widows and widowers deserve nice weddings! Consider, too, that those vocally opposed to grand second weddings tend to forget that the other member of the marrying couple may never have been married before. Perhaps the bride or groom who has never before been married has been dreaming of an absolutely huge do. How mean to deny it. Note: The same applies for wedding receptions.
Myth: No toasting at the rehearsal dinner or at the wedding for second-time brides and grooms.
I’m not sure where this myth even got started, but anyone who wants to make a toast should feel free to make a toast as long as they’re not in, say, a library or an operating theatre. Wedding attendants, guests, and the parents of the happy couple may be happy and excited and want to say a few words. Besides, how exactly do you specify “no toasts”?
Myth: Second weddings cannot be held in a church or other house of worship.
While many second-time brides and second-time grooms opt for civil ceremonies or ceremonies more spiritual than overtly religious, the only rules they must abide by in this area are those put forth by the religious institution of their choosing. Some religions don’t allow second weddings, others frown upon them, some will make brides and grooms jump through hoops before allowing second weddings, and others are more than happy to marry second-time brides and second-time grooms. Check with your house of worship, and proceed accordingly.
Myth: Second-time brides can’t have bridesmaids, and second-time grooms can’t have groomsmen.
One hopes that close friends will remain close after a divorce, so why wouldn’t those friends want to support the bride or groom when they’ve hopefully found their true life partner? There’s no rule stating that you can’t have attendants at a second wedding.
Myth: The bride can’t wear white when the wedding taking place is her second (or third or fourth or fifth).
This one has always stymied me. I’d like to ask those who point to the dubious association between white and sexual purity if they really think that most of the first-time brides they know actually walk down the aisle as virgins. While white carries society and cultural connotations, it is still just a color. Some people look great in white. Really beautiful colored wedding dresses aren’t always easy to find. Brides who want to wear white should wear white.
Myth: Second-time brides must wear a bridal suit or a simple dress, never, ever a gown.
Some second-time brides wore elaborate wedding gowns at their first weddings and might opt for something simpler and more mature because something simpler happens to suit their tastes. Other second-time brides never got to wear fairytale wedding dresses the first go around and want to finally have their dream weddings. Still others love princessy, poufy wedding dresses. Brides should wear what they love, not what old cluckers tell them to wear.
Myth: Second-time brides and second-time grooms should specify “no gifts” on all wedding correspondence.
Besides the fact that this is in poor taste to begin with, it’s simply not true. Gift giving, as always, is at the discretion of the wedding guests. Some guests will give gifts, others won’t. And speaking of wedding gifts, there’s nothing that says second-time brides can’t create a gift registry, though some people recommend making it more creative than domestic since it’s likely that the couple already has a well-stocked home.
Those, I think, are the biggies, but there are others like no showers… but the bride and groom have little influence over whether someone surprises them with a shower or other pre-wedding party, so that’s right out. Many people will tell you that you absolutely cannot invite ex-spouses or ex-in-laws, but sometimes people have divorced amicably and they should be free to invite who they care for.
Can you think of any others?