Wedding Etiquette Advice

Second Wedding Etiquette

Not that long ago, popular thought dictated that second weddings should not be elaborate, formal or extravagant; rather, one should aim for smaller, quieter and more intimate. Today, however, more than 30 percent of today’s weddings are encore weddings and decidedly more commonplace. The focus is on celebrating two people who have found each other, discovering love again and embarking on a new beginning. In truth, celebrations can be as elaborate or as intimate as we desire, without fearing social stigma.

Ceremonies and Vows

Civil ceremonies tend to be the most popular with encore brides, but a religious ceremony is entirely appropriate. If you choose a religious ceremony, meet with your officiant, clergy member, etc. about any “hoops” through which you might need need to jump.

There are endless possibilities for making your second wedding even more special. Writing personalized vows is very popular for encore couples, and entire books are devoted to the subject. Including your children in the ceremony is a wonderful way to symbolize the joining of your two families and to help them feel as though they are an essential part of your celebration. They can escort you down the aisle, read a poem or scripture, serve as attendants or as a part of my favorite ritual: the lighting of a unity candle.

Who will walk you down that aisle?

Happily for us, these days it can be anyone: your mother, child, two children or best friend—or you can choose not to have anyone do so. In fact, traditional Jewish processions include both sets of grandparents and parents. The parents stand with the bridal party under the chuppah (wedding canopy) during the ceremony. You can create your own tradition, with all of your children walking beside you and your groom and standing with you at the altar. You’re bound only by your imagination. More: Second Marriage Ceremony | Second Marriage Wedding Dress | Vows for the Second Time
second wedding etiquette


Announcing Your Engagement

When planning your encore wedding, one of your major concerns will be the effect it has on your children. They should be the first to know of your decision to remarry. After all, you will be uniting two families, and two sets of children will naturally experience stress.

family medallion ceremony

Your parents should be informed next, followed by your ex, if you have joint custody. Your ex may be an asset when it comes to reassuring your children about their role in the new family.

Note: Don’t wear engagement rings from the past. Once you begin planning and announcing the news, all signs of former loves should disappear.

Announce your plans to marry in the newspaper, by email, phone, and at an engagement party. Even though there is no ‘rule’ against it, the couple’s parents will probably not be hosting this party. Friends and family may wish to, which is fine. Typically, the couple doesn’t host one either, but they can host aparty in which they announce that they are now engaged. This is not considered a gift-giving event.

Note : If hosting your engagement party, do not expect gifts. We don’t host gift giving events for ourselves.

And, speaking of gifts, go ahead and register. Even if you don’t want gifts, there will be people who love you and want to give you something and they will need guidance. Plus, it is perfectly appropriate for encore couples to register.

second wedding invitations

Whom to Invite?

When planning your special event, realize that you can invite anyone you want to your wedding. You may want to 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.

Since most couples pay for, and plan, a second wedding, discuss your budget realistically and stick to it, while sharing all of your dreams and expectations with each other. This is a second chance to make your wedding your own—your plan, your style. It can be as extravagant, elegant or intimate as you wish.

Etiquette for Wording Second Wedding Invitations | Wording Second Wedding Receptions Invites | Wording Second Wedding Invitations – Parents Hosting | Wording Second Wedding Invitations: Bride and Groom Hosting

Wedding Announcements

Announce your second wedding in the same way you’d handle a first. Mail announcements after the ceremony to those who were not invited to the wedding. While most couples announce their marriages today, parents may do so, if they wish. Wording Second Wedding Announcements

second wedding etiquette

Getting Remarried? Check Out A Few Essential Tips

Taking His Name?

When talking second marriages, how to word the invitation can be a bit confounding. Your friends may only know you by your married name, however using your first husband’s surname on the invites probably feels really weird. The bottom line? Use the name that makes you feel most comfortable. If you’d rather not use your first husband’s name but are concerned people will think they’ve been invited to a stranger’s wedding, indicate this on the invite or give friends a call.

Wear What You Want!

It may be your second wedding, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and be married by a Justice of the Peace!  Wear that gorgeous gown you’ve been dreaming about, and opt for the full church service if you want it. Inform your parents and/or children of your plans so they know what the ceremony will entail.

Remember, It’s a Fresh Start

Refrain from saying “Well, the last time I did this…” and similar things, which can hurt your new soon-to-be hubby. Plan an entirely different wedding, from the venue to the cake to the first dance and beyond. This is a completely fresh start, so treat it like one!

Blending the Families

Get ready to blend households in addition to families: discuss what you’ll do with your things before the wedding. Have a joint garage sale if desired, and give him his own space for displaying collections you think are hideous, such as a “man cave” room. Remember, the same goes for any crazy collections of your own!

Enjoy Getting Creative

A second wedding gives you an opportunity to do unconventional things and otherwise be as creative as desired. Want to cut the cake first? Perhaps greet family and friends with your husband-to-be at the ceremony site entrance? Go for it! Have fun and feel free to make it all kinds of special!

Don’t Forget the Kiddies

It’s important to let your children know they’re part of your new union. Options include lighting a unity candle together at the ceremony, or going the unity sand ceremony route. Provide each child with a different color of sand and use a hurricane lamp to blend them. Place the lamp on your mantle or other important household spot after your honeymoon. The kids will love it!

List Important Peeps

Family relationships can confuse guests the second time ’round. Ensure program lists all “key players” and their relationships, such as “So-and-So, Father of the Groom.”

second wedding dress

Second Wedding Dress

There aren’t too many second wedding dress etiquette rules for second-time brides, which is always a great sign for making life a little easier. Honestly, there is only one rule and that is to leave out a blusher veil that covers the face. That tradition is more for the very young, first-time brides and one of the few real fashion “don’ts.” for a second time wedding dress.

When it comes to your second wedding dress try to find something that really flatters your figure. That sounds obvious but just like first time brides, second time brides get a vision in their minds without truly trying on a bunch of different styles to see what suits them best. When you’re shopping for that perfect second wedding dress make sure you match it to the type of second wedding ceremony and reception you are having. If you’re doing a beach ceremony, probably doesn’t make sense to have a ballgown.Bring along a friend and/or your mom to get a second opinion, but leave home the large group.

See our ultimate guide to second wedding dresses and find top wedding dress designers:

More second marriage wedding dress ideas:

second wedding reception ideas

Second Wedding Reception And Parties

Your reception can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish. One distinctive difference may be your receiving line, as parents may or may not be included. Typically, the couple is at the head of the line, with their children next to them. Many encore couples also choose to omit the garter and bridal bouquet toss. Use common sense and plan what seems appropriate for your situation.

Not Necessary

  • Attendants
  • Someone to walk the bride down the aisle
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Procession

All of these elements are always optional.

Please Do

  • Register, even if you don’t want gifts. Guests may wish to give and might need guidance. This is optionl, though.
  • Include your children in the ceremony, but ask first if they want to participate.
  • Personalize your wedding and reception. This is your chance to have the wedding you want.

Please Don’t

  • Duplicate your first wedding
  • Marry in the same location
  • Wear the same dress as your first wedding
  • Use rings from a former relationship
  • Discuss or berate former spouses
  • Invite the ex

May Include

  • Engagement party
  • Announcement in the paper
  • Shower
  • *Rehearsal dinner
  • A large formal wedding with attendants (depending on time of day, location & number og guests)
  • Mom, children, or best friend can walk the bride down the aisle, or she can walk alone.
  • Brides can wear white or any other color they desire. White symbolizes joy, not purity.

*You may wish to omit some of the traditional toasts for your rehearsal dinner, which may seem out of place, for example: father to daughter toasts. The same is true for the reception.

second wedding faqs

Second Wedding – Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How can I tell my guests where I’m registered?

  • The best way to inform your guests is by “word of mouth” or by using a wedding website. Tell all of your friends and family about your wishes so they can broadcast the news. And in today’s Internet-dominated world, starting your own website is very easy these days! You can set up a personal wedding site to share your love story and include all pertinent information concerning your wedding (location, maps, date, and registry information).

Question: Because we have both been married before, we’re not really interested in the flower-toss and garterbelt traditions. Are there alternatives that can take their place?

  • Interesting question. Let’s first discuss how these customs originated:

Question: Throwing the garter at my second wedding?

  • Many years ago, wedding guests would rip pieces of the bride’s dress, ribbons and anything they could grab for good luck. She eventually started throwing her garter to them.
  • In England, the groomsmen would follow the couple to their room to throw their stockings at him. The first to hit the groom was the next to wed.

Question: Tossing the bouquet

  • Tossing the bouquet to a friend was designed to bring her good luck and marriage. But due to the pungent odor of the flowers, it was also used to ward off evil spirits.

Question: Should the Ex Spouse Be Told?

  • Yes. If a man or woman is engaged again, it’s common courtesy to let the ex know as soon as possible. This is particularly essential if children are involved, and it’s not the best option to tell the kids and the ex at the same time. It’s important to give both children and the ex the chance to react without anyone else present. Older children usually take the news best, but no matter what, all should be told privately.

Question: What About Wearing White and the Father Walking Me Down the Aisle?

  • If you want to wear white and have your dad walk you down the aisle, go for it! It’s your wedding, so feel free to wear what you want, and incorporate family members as you wish.

Question: Should Children From Another Relationship Be Involved in the Planning?

  • Yes, if you want! Remarriage is generally a time for new beginnings, which includes children from other relationships. Involving them in the planning process allows them to warm up to the situation as opposed to having to deal with everything on the wedding day. However, if the children don’t want to help, let it go for a awhile and ask them again at a later date. They might soften to the idea following their initial reaction.

Question: Can I Ask My Parents For Financial Assistance?

  • Those entering second marriages are usually in good financial standing and don’t need parental help. Most parents want to help anyway, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting money if it’s offered.

Question: Is it Bad Form to Register For a Second Wedding, Especially If the First One Wasn’t That Long Ago?

  • No! A wedding is a new start, and setting up a registry allows friends and family member to help and share in your joy. Even if you and your groom both ended other relationships right before you got together, you shouldn’t feel guilty for registering.

Question: A coworker and her fiancé are planning their wedding, have previously been married and both have homes. We coworkers are confused about proper gift-giving etiquette because she isn’t inviting everyone in the office. Can we all chip in for a gift, have it delivered to their home and not attend the affair?

  • Commonly, coworkers will organize a work shower where they present individual gifts or a joint gift. The party is usually very simple, with cookies or a cake and a beverage. It is usually only 20–30 minutes long. Don’t worry about attending the wedding. Traditionally, this is the only type of shower in which the guests are not guests to the wedding.

Question: This will be my second wedding and my fiancé’s third. We are both well into our 50s. I want to announce our engagement in the newspaper. Is this appropriate—and do we announce it as though my parents are announcing it?

  • Reply: Congratulations! Yes, your plan is quite appropriate. It’s best for you and your fiancé to announce your engagement, although your parents could do so, if you wish. If you want to announce it on your own, here’s a good example: Jane Lynn Moore, first-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School, is to be married in July to James John Smith, an accountant for the city of Los Angeles. Jane Lynn Moore is the daughter of XXXX of California, and XXX of Nevada. Mr. Smith is the son of etc.

Can I have a bridal shower for a second marriage?

  • Sure, showers are often held for second brides, but be sure to follow second wedding etiquette rules. As with first weddings, only wedding guests (those invited to the ceremony) should be invited. Office, club and school showers are also appropriate; these are the only showers where attendees are not limited to wedding guests. Usually, guests invited to a bride’s shower for her first marriage aren’t invited to a shower for the secoind marriage. If they are, for whatever reason, they are not expected to bring a gift. Because the bride and groom may already have the typical shower/home items, 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.

More: Second Marriage Etiquette Questions.

Second Wedding Gifts and Registry

And speaking of gifts, be sure to register. Even if you don’t want gifts, some guests who love you may still want to give you something and need guidance. It’s also perfectly appropriate for encore couples to register. When it comes to nuptial gifts, a wedding can be like ten or more Christmases or birthdays rolled into one. For the second time couple, you probably have the microwave, dishwasher, lamps, occasional tables, toasters and just about everything else for the house so picking things gets a little harder second time around.

Online gift registries solve a lot of these problems. You can upgrade items in your home, and just about any department store offer gift list services both online and in-store. For the second time married couple, it may be a nicer idea to forget the practical things like microwaves and instead add some life-long dream choices on your wish list too, like artworks or a trip around the world.

Gift Ideas for Second Marriages

  • Personalized keepsakes (books, frames, blankets, photo albums)
  • Gift baskets
  • Picture frames (who can’t use a new frame?)
  • Gift certificates—restaurants, spas, stores
  • Donations to charities (Be careful to select a charity both bride and groom support)
  • Espresso maker, pasta maker, with cookbooks, etc.
  • More second wedding gifts appropriate for second weddings.

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About the Author
Team Wedding, founded in January 2000, is a network of wedding related directories and niche wedding websites designed to alleviate wedding planning stress and to give brides and grooms the one-stop-shop experience they need in this busy, modern world. I Do, Take Two is the most robust resource for expert advice and articles for those planning a second wedding, a second marriage or who are renewing their vows.

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