Congratulations, you're engaged! And even if it isn't your first time planning a wedding, this engagement is just as special as your first one, or your second one. Seriously.
Many of my clients have been married before. Although divorce rates are high in this country, it doesn't stop men and women from trying again. And again and again, in some cases. That means brides and grooms realize that although they may not have chosen the right partner the first time around, the institution of marriage is basically a good thing. And they're willing to try it again with a different partner.
So, with that said, I have some advice for brides and grooms who are planning their second (or third) wedding.
Too often, brides reference their first wedding repeatedly while we're doing the planning, and, frequently, they're doing it in front of their fiancé. Here's the thing: If your intended hasn't been married before, constantly referencing your first failed marriage during your wedding planning can be a total buzzkill. And even if your fiancé isn't getting married for the first time, he doesn't want to hear about your first one in comparison to this one every time you have to make a decision.
If you're reading this and thinking you're busted, it's okay. You haven't gotten married yet, so you can change the vibe now and make sure your wedding day is filled with nothing but positive energy. Just follow these tips:
This wedding is the only one that matters. Don't feel like you need to tell people who don't already know that you've been married before. Certainly tell your wedding planner so she's aware for paperwork purposes and so she can give a heads-up to any vendors who are in a position to possibly say something stupid (and if you don't have a wedding planner, make sure the DJ or other designated master of ceremonies knows so she doesn't goof). But otherwise, your previous marriage (or marriages) should be considered off-limits as much as possible.
Avoid saying things such as "We can't do that because I did it last time" and "My wedding gown looks nothing like what I wore to my first wedding." It's okay to think those things in your head and share them with your bestie if you must, but try your hardest not to make comparisons to the cake you had, the first venue, and all the other little wedding details.
Don't ask the same friends to stand up for you. Re-creating your first bridal party simply invites snarky remarks and makes avoiding conversation about your first wedding almost impossible. If you're still BFFs with the same women, choose just one to be your maid or matron of honor. The same goes for the groom, but it's actually even more important in his case because men tend to be less sensitive about the etiquette of mentioning first weddings. Too often, they tease the groom about it at the most inappropriate times.
There's an exception to these guidelines, and it applies when the bride or groom has been widowed. In that case, the former spouse is often mentioned at the wedding—sometimes in prayers at the ceremony, and frequently in toasts at the reception. If there are children of the deceased spouse involved, the first marriage may be mentioned extensively. It's perfectly okay to talk about a former wife or husband at your new wedding as long as the person is remembered fondly by everyone.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.