Love may indeed be lovelier the second time around, as the song says. Many second marriage couples and mature couples renewing their vows would agree. But what is the best way to properly capture the spirit of these celebrations?
Second wedding options
Much fuss is made over whether mature brides entering into a second marriage choose to wear white, for example. White was associated with joy long before some Puritan decided it should represent virginity. I say, let mature brides wear whatever they choose.
Gift etiquette is an area of confusion. Bridal showers and acceptance of gifts is appropriate for a second wedding, but many couples prefer to discourage gifts because they are blending households. Excellent gift alternatives for them include an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast inn, a restaurant certificate, a gift certificate to a plant nursery or hardware store, even a donation to a favorite charity.
Who pays for a second wedding? Some parents will assist, but over-30-something couples and second-timers commonly pay for the wedding and reception. As a point of etiquette, the bridal couples’ names appear on the invitations as hosts of the celebration, rather than the names of their parents.
Large second weddings are socially acceptable, but many second-timers opt for small weddings, attended largely or exclusively by family members. Second weddings and vow renewals tend to be simple, intimate affairs.
Reception food stations are popular and allow friends and family more opportunity to socialize. This is especially appreciated if guests travel some distance to attend the celebration.
Weekend or destination weddings may be preferred over a large guest list. Destination weddings allow extended sharing and festivities removed from the everyday setting. Those meeting for the first time have more opportunity to become acquainted.
Vow renewal ceremonies often take place in conjunction with an important anniversary celebration or shortly after an elopement. Since they preclude showers and pre-wedding parties, guests may give gifts. A reception for a recently married couple may stand alone or follow the vow renewal.
More on family involvement
Children from previous marriages often participate in the ceremony as a unifying gesture and commitment to successfully blending families. Children can also stand up as members of the bridal party. An older son can walk the bride down the aisle. Young and teenaged children can be assigned responsibilities such as ushering or monitoring the signing of the guest book.
Rings or triple circle pendants, signifying the creation of a new family, may be offered to the children during the ceremony. Children over eighteen years of age can legally sign the marriage license as witnesses. Regardless how you choose to involve them, consider ways each child can participate to make the day more special.
If you are going around a second time with the same person, display first wedding photos, newspaper announcements, your original wedding dress and veil, if you have it. Dust off the toasting glasses and call the original cake topper into service again. Invite guests who attended the original ceremony to share a memory with other guests.
There’s nothing like experience to make our hopes and expectations more focused and meaningful. Pledges written by second-time and renewing bridal couples are special because they draw on shared experiences etched in their hearts and memories. I encourage anyone who is marrying the second time or renewing their vows to write their own pledges to enrich the celebration for your partner and to touch the hearts of those gathered to celebrate with you.
©2011 Robbin Montero
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.”