If it’s not your first time tying the knot, there are probably a number of questions running through your head. What can you do again? What should you do differently? And what just totally doesn’t fly? We asked our wedding experts to walk us through eight of the biggest questions that couples ask when planning a second wedding.
Whether it’s your first wedding and your partner’s second, vice versa, or you’ve both been down the aisle before, if one of you has previously tied the knot, there are definitely a few details that aren’t as cut and dry as they are the first time around. Thankfully, wedding planner Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, has firsthand experience to help guide you. “I just got married for the first time, but it was my now-husband’s second marriage. These are the big things we took into consideration as we planned our wedding,” Nichols says.
Meet the Expert
Amy Nichols is a California-based wedding planner with more than a decade of experience and the owner of Amy Nichols Special Events.
Is It Alright to Have a Big Wedding?
It depends. Says Nichols, “If you both previously had larger weddings, and they were less than five years ago, it might not really be appropriate to have a large wedding now. However, if it is one of your first weddings, then it might be okay.” Ultimately, it is up to the two of you to choose how big or formal your second wedding might be. “One thing to be sensitive to is if there are children from the previous marriage,” Nichols adds. “If they're young or may be uncomfortable in a large wedding setting, this might be something to take into consideration. For my recent wedding, my husband had two tween/teenage sons from a previous marriage and we chose to have a smaller wedding. We both felt it would be ‘easier’ on the kids if it wasn’t a big, over-the-top affair.”
Can We Have a Religious Ceremony?
“This is something you ultimately should decide together as a couple and with your clergy person,” says Nichols. “Every religion is different in terms of what is considered respectful and acceptable when it comes to second marriages.” Know that some faiths may be opposed to having a religious ceremony for your second marriage—and may not allow you to hold the wedding in a house of worship.
Can the Bride Wear White?
“Sure! It is her wedding day, and if a bride wants to wear white, she should be able to wear whatever she'd like,” Nichols states.
Can We Have a Wedding Shower or Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties?
This is a trickier one. “In my opinion, if it is the bride's first wedding, yes, you can have a shower or a bachelorette party. If it is the bride's second wedding, in theory she would already have many of the things ‘needed’ for starting adult life in her own home, such as pots and pans, etc.—which are some of the most common shower gifts,” Nichols explains. Of course, many couples choose to get new housewares to reflect their new relationship and marriage. “Feel your friends and family out on this one,” says Nichols. “If someone is offering to host a celebration for you and everyone is enthusiastic about the idea, it’s okay to have a shower. I just would recommend keeping the guest list on the smaller side.”
Nichols also wants brides who are marrying for the second time to know that some friends may opt to not buy a second shower gift—and may skip the wedding present, too—if they were there for the first wedding, and that is 100% okay on their part. “It’s also important to be sensitive to any female friends or relatives who have not gotten engaged or married yet,” Nichols continues. “It may sting a bit if you’re asking her to be a bridesmaid (again) or host a shower (again) when she hasn’t had her ‘turn’ yet.”
Should We Invite Our Exes and Their Families? In Which Instances?
“Generally my advice would be no, unless situations are such that you are still very friendly and close with your former spouse and/or his or her family members,” says Nichols. “In the event that your second marriage is after the death of your previous spouse, I think inviting your deceased spouse’s family is a very nice gesture. Just know that it might be a hard situation for them, and that they may not attend.” Long story short, it depends on the nature of your relationship with your former spouse, as well as how long ago your previous marriage was. “For most couples, I think the answer here would be no,” Nichols concludes.
Can We Have a Registry?
You may have heard otherwise, but the answer is actually yes. “Even if you specify that you do not want gifts, there will still be family members or friends who want to buy you something to mark the occasion, so you might as well help them find something you’ll love and use,” Nichols says. “Focus on things you really need and want. If you’ve already established a home, skip the basics like bakeware or pots and pans. Use this as a time to select new china, new everyday dishes, or something else that is important to you.” Or you can go for an alternative registry, instead. “Sites like Zola allow you to register for experiences or larger-ticket items for ‘group gifting,’ and stores like REI and Home Depot also have registries.” So if you’re in the market for home improvement items or would love new gear for your camping honeymoon, think outside the big box stores.
We Don’t Need Anything for Our Home—Can We Ask for Money Instead?
“Whether it is your first wedding or your fourth, you should never ask for money,” says Nichols. “However, there are couples who truly only want to receive money. The best way to get this message across would be by word of mouth, or by using a cash fund registry site.”
Are There Any Wedding Traditions We Should Skip?
This is totally up to you. “Some traditions might be really important to you, like toasts and a first dance,” Nichols says. “Others might feel trite, like a bouquet or garter toss. Include the traditions that feel meaningful to you, and skip the rest.”