Snicker proof your second wedding (reprint)

By request, Mannersmith is happy to re-post a series of wedding articles written in 2006.

Historical Perspective ~ In order to understand some of the guidelines for a second marriage, it is important to understand the significance of the first marriage. Back in the "olden days," marriage was a right of passage. It signified the change of status from child to adult. Children left the house of the parent and established their own home. As with most change of status ceremonies, much pomp and circumstance surrounded the wedding to mark the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. The ceremony included public pronouncement of the impending change, elaborate costumes, a sumptuous feast, music, general merrymaking and the giving of gifts to help the child fill the new home. A second marriage, however, is considered the formalization of a relationship by two people already recognized as adults in the community. Hence, there is presumably no need for the lavishness of the first wedding.

Baseline ~ What I will be discussing are the guidelines for a snicker proof second wedding. There are many factors to consider when actually planning the event, including; you, your spouse, personalities, religion, finances, preferences, family customs and life situation. But as a mentor of mine was fond of saying, "you must know the rules before you break them." Please keep in mind these are simply guidelines, some of which I do not advocate for my clients. For suggestions about your particular event, please contact me directly.

Theme ~ The best way to think about your second weddings is to think "Sophistication."

Those In The Know ~ Traditionally, second weddings are a much smaller affair. Usually, only close friends and family are invited, so there is no need for an engagement announcement or notice of the wedding in the local paper. Showers and engagement parties are kept to a minimum and usually called something like "A Tea in Susie's Honor" or "A Let's Toast Susie and Bill Dinner."

Pull Out Your Pen ~ The second wedding announcement is generally written by the bride to those invited. However, it is also acceptable to have engraved invitations printed. If the bride and groom are over the magical age of 30, they would be hosting their own affair and the invitation would be worded as follows:

Jodi Rae Smith
Douglas David Jones
Request the pleasure of your company
At their wedding reception
On Sunday, the first of December
At five o'clock
The Bay Tower

I Do Take Two ~ The second wedding ceremony usually is attended by immediate family and close friends. For widows and widowers, this is out of respect for their deceased spouse. For divorcees, this is to minimize the obvious, (i.e. that they had already taken a public oath that included "till death do us part," which clearly did not come to pass). There is no processional and the bride typically enters from the side. There is also no need for a bevy of beautiful, young bridesmaids. One or two close friends can stand up for the bride and groom.

Going, Going, Gone ~ If the bride has already been given away at her first wedding, then there is no need for her to be given away again, especially since the logic would dictate that her ex-husband be the giver.

What to Wear ~ Keeping in mind stark white is unbecoming on most women, second time brides should look to ivory, champagne, and pastel attire. The dress should not have a train, but a sweep is acceptable. Veils are no-no's, but hats and headpieces are encouraged. From haute couture to off the rack, second time brides can often find very appropriate dresses far from the poufy dresses found in a typical bridal salon.

Seen, But Not Heard ~ Children of the bride and groom are encouraged to take part in the ceremony. Older children can stand as their parent's attendants. Younger children can act as the flower girl or ring bearer. While the children may not have a say in who their parents marry, they absolutely should be included in the process.

Celebrate Good Times ~ While the marriage ceremony is typically small, there are no restrictions on the number of guests or scale of event for the second wedding reception. Life is short and causes for celebration are too few and far between. Eat, drink and the more the merrier.

Bill Battles ~ For the second wedding, typically the bride and groom host their own affair. It is equally common for the parents of both the bride and the groom to offer some financial support. However, if the parents have already contributed lavishly to the first wedding, they may feel, and rightfully so, that they have already done their part.

Presence as Presents ~ As with any occasion, gifts are never expected and never required. The guest of honor is always pleasantly surprised that his/her friends and family are generous enough to give a gift in addition to attending the affair. Since the bride and groom each are already coming from established homes, the typical wedding gifts are not appropriate for a second wedding. For second weddings, gift registries are even more important so that guests who wish to are able to purchase something the bride and groom truly desire. As with the first wedding, no note of the registry should ever be made. Those who are interested will ask.

You are the One ~ Please remember, these guidelines, as with all etiquette guidelines, are merely suggestions. It is up to you and your groom to decide what is right for you. If you have questions or would like the etiquette perspective for your particular wedding, please contact me.

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