Weddings, the second time around

Simplicity for the second time bride?

Statistics say that almost half of all weddings involve one or more people who are not unfamiliar in the ways of matrimony. That means there are a lot of second time brides and second time grooms out there. Being that I’m a firm believer in doing what you want when it comes to weddings, I like to imagine all those second-timers out there having the ceremony they want, wearing the dresses they want, and hosting the sorts of receptions that suit them best.

But, according to I Do Take Two, “encore brides,” as they call them, have plenty of extra factors to consider when planning their second, third, or forth weddings. The site has some good advice, ranging from what to expect when marrying a widower to simple ways to word invitations to how best to include blended family members in a wedding ceremony.

Because the bride and groom may already have home items, registry gifts are often lifestyle presents—items that reflect the new couple’s interests, such as cooking, camping, tools and sports equipment. But shower gifts should not be expensive and may be presented jointly by several guests.

When planning your special event, realize that you can invite anyone you want to your wedding. Avoid inviting former in-laws and ex-spouses, even if you’re on good terms. They may become a bit melancholy, and some guests may feel awkward around them.

Similar to first wedding invitations, your second wedding invitation would also reflect the hosts of the event. If you’re paying, you are the hosts. However, if you want to assert that your parents are hosting and they agree, then you may use the traditional form.

But I Do Take Two also has some advice that I consider rather demoralizing. Some of the guidance offered seems to assume that the second-time couple is not interested in having a grand wedding or an ornate gown or even bridesmaids and groomsmen!

Guests invited to the bride’s first wedding should not be invited to her bridal shower, per standard protocol. If they are, for whatever reason, they are not expected to bring a gift. Um, so the bride should exclude her closest friends and family, then? Because I imagine they were at her first wedding.

Not necessary: Attendants; Someone to walk the bride down the aisle; The procession. If that was your plan from the beginning, great. But I see no reason to exclude these things, particularly not the attendants! They also suggest that if you hold a rehearsal dinner, you omit any toasting. Huh?

I can understand second-time brides and grooms being concerned about how their old Uncle Erwin will feel about their getting hitched in a church or how Grandma Martha will feel about the bride wearing this or that type of veil. But I can also understand how a second-time spouse might want to hold a big shindig that totally eclipses their first (failed) marriage. To blot it out, perhaps. So my advice to any second-timers out there is that you have whatever kind of wedding you darn well please.

The floor-length dress above has an a-line silhouette with a matching jacket and is by Landa Designs

13 Responses to “Weddings, the second time around”

  1. Vis Major says:

    I’m a second time bride marrying a second time groom in just 24 days. We’re absolutely having a “real” wedding – cake, dress, attendants, bridal shower, bachelorete party, a string trio, full-on reception…the works! While I was originally in favor of eloping, my groom felt it was very important to include all our friends and family in our celebration, and he wanted it done “right.” While we may have each been married before, we haven’t been married to *each other* before.

    My dad is walking me part of the way down the aisle, and his 12-year-old son (and best man) will take me the rest of the way. We’re including the poem he read to me when he proposed, and we’re writing our own untraditional vows in addition to including the traditional ones. Planning this wedding was much more enjoyable than planning our first ones: this time around we’re older, wiser, more comfortable in our own skins, more likely to do what we want instead of bending to convention and know what makes us happy.

    We’re going to have the best time; frankly, our love story deserves nothing less than the best.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    That’s great, Vis Major! I’m glad that you’re enjoying the wedding planning process. Few folks are lucky enough to have both a great wedding and a great string of months leading up to it 🙂

  3. kristine says:

    I have been to at least two weddings where either the bride or the groom had been previously–and hastily–married. In other words, they didn’t HAVE the big fancy wedding. I don’t think it’s that uncommon, especially among the younger second-marriage set. But to follow I Do Take Two’s advice means those people would NEVER get a traditional wedding. Or their spouse-to-be, who might not have been married before, would be precluded from having a traditional wedding.

    Weddings should not be restrained to the extent of POINTING OUT that the bride or groom had been married before. I think that’s SILLY. I think weddings should fit the personalities of the people getting married, no matter their previous marital status.

  4. JaneC says:

    I attended a wedding in January which was a second for the bride and a first for the groom. The bride’s (very cute) 5-year-old daughter was a flower girl, and was also very much included in the ceremony. After the bestowal of the rings, a pendant for the little girl was blessed by the minister and fastened onto her by her new father. The bride wore a traditional wedding dress, of the variety that looks a lot like the wedding cake. They really went all-out on the reception, too. The favors consisted of two gourmet chocolates and a mint-flavored chapstick that had a parchment with statistics on kissing wrapped around it.

    I had no problem with the bride wearing a traditional wedding dress, although my mother thought she should have picked something else (though, I have to say, the style of the dress looked a little out-dated to me, and I wondered if it might be the same dress from her first wedding). The problem I had with her dress was that the bride was both very petite in stature (about 4’11”), and very, er, well-endowed (I’m guessing DD), and the dress showed off an awful lot of it, especially for a church wedding. I wasn’t meaning to look down her dress, but being 7 inches taller, I had to look down to talk to her, and, well, they were just there!

  5. la petite chou chou says:


    Anyone I know who was married more than once actually went to Reno to get hitched, and they really didn’t dress up—at all.

    Though, my best friend eloped in front of a judge and she wore a real wedding dress.

    That has nothing to do with this thread, though.

  6. Twistie says:

    So…if you’ve got one person who hasn’t been married before marrying someone who has been married before…does that mean one can have fifteen attendants while the other doesn’t have any? While I’m not one of those people who gets obsessed about having perfect symmetry, that would be downright ridiculous. Or does the person who hasn’t been married before get completely cheated of the trimmings of a formal wedding? If so, my wedding would have been a lot sadder, since my beloved was divorced.

    I don’t think much of hard and fast rules for what you can and can’t do for a wedding. I’ve even seen times when it was good to make an exception on the ‘no ex-spouses’ rule. As long as what the couple wants to do isn’t vicious, painfully greedy, horrifically out of their budget, or deliberately intended to make the guests uncomfortable, I think they should do exactly what they want. I don’t care if it’s the first time to the altar or the fifth.

  7. jj says:

    No attendents? Now that’s just silly. How are you supposed to get ready? Who are you supposed to hand the bouquet too? In general, who is there to shepard you through and help you out as you get caught up in the excitement of the day?

  8. Kai Jones says:

    The old rules, which applied when being a second bride/groom meant you were either bad (divorced) or sad (widow/er), and in either case didn’t want to draw the community’s attention, made sense when that was the assumption. (Although an older first-time bride–say, over 30–was also expected to forego the white dress and multiple attendants kind of wedding.)

    Society doesn’t disapprove of subsequent marriages any longer, or remarriage after a death, or late marriage, so I think those rules have become stale.

  9. Chaeriste says:

    Rules suck. I wish I could be more eloquent than that, but really. My best friend and his fiancé are getting married 6/17 and BOTH have been married before. He became a widower at 29 and she was divorced by 25. It happens, people. They are having a knock-down, drag-out wedding, in a hotel banquet hall, with attendants, custom made dress and tux. We, on the other hand, are both first-timers and we’re having a small, 70-person wedding with the ceremony in the banquet hall and one attendant each. It’s what we wanted, and we are comfortable with our choices. To each their own. ‘Encore bride’, feh.

  10. Never teh Bride says:

    A widower at 29? That is so sad!

  11. Soliloquy says:

    My first husband turned out to be gay (surprise!) and actually wanted to be a bridesman in my second wedding. I turned him down, as I thought I already had enough wedding party pictures featuring him, but he did drive 10 hours to come to the ceremony.

    My (2nd) husband hadn’t been married before, and we did the whole church wedding thing. And invited whoever we wanted. The only item my mother put her foot down about was my being married in a red dress, which I though would be fun. So I stuck with ivory, it was pretty.

    Since I had a lot of home stuff from my first wedding, instead of a bridal shower I had a spa party. Everyone brought nail polish, facial ingredients, etc. from home, and my maitron of honor (who’s a massage therapist) did massages in her dining room. It rocked–I highly recommend it!

  12. Never teh Bride says:

    Note: The comment I was responding to seems to have gone AWOL

    Thanks for weighing in, Rebecca. Etiquette is a wonderful thing – it keeps society running smoothly. And while I believe that everyone should have an understanding of proper etiquette, I also believe that we all have the right to buck the rules as long as we abide by the consequences of our choices.

    There is plenty on the site I do agree with…just not everything. I am of the opinion that people should have the type of wedding that pleases them most. If I am offended by their choices, I can respond by not attending.

    Most brides and grooms (encore and otherwise) understand that their wedding style choices have the potential to alienate certain people and these couples must then make decisions based on conscience. Some choose to follow etiquette rules to a ‘T,’ some choose to bend the rules, and some choose to toss them right out the window.

    I support all three groups in equal measure.

  13. Donna says:

    I think you need to revisit our website,, since we never said any of the above. We don’t say second time brides can’t have a wedding or wear a wedding dress or have attendants. The line regarding bridal showers/guests/gifts was misquoted. We said the guests who came to the first shower shouldn’t be expected to attend another bridal shower and bring another gift. They can be invited, yes, but the guest should know that they aren’t expected to bribg anoither gift (many will though). I think the author of the original post was reading from our pages on vow renewal etiquette and not form the second wedding information. And, no, the two of these are not the same. 🙂 Thank you for allowing me to clear up some of the misinterpretation.