The Sequel Wedding: What It Is and How to Plan Two Unique Ceremonies

Consider it "I do," part two.

change the date

Invitation by Minted

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted, skewed, and sometimes dramatically altered the wedding plans of so many couples in the last year and the coming years. It has changed the landscape of the wedding industry, how it functions, and how it very well may continue to function in the future. 

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But if there is one silver lining to come out of this unforeseen, once-in-a-lifetime circumstance as far as weddings are concerned it’s without a doubt the sequel wedding. It’s essentially a second ceremony and wedding celebration that takes place after a much smaller or micro wedding on or close to a couple’s originally intended wedding date. 

What Is a Sequel Wedding?

A sequel wedding allows a couple to become legally married now and postpone their originally intended celebration for a time when it is safe for large groups to gather, explains Alison Szleifer, co-founder of Two Kindred Event Planners in New York City. “This has enabled couples to still celebrate the joyous moment now, and have something to look forward to down the road,” she says. “Many of our couples have even found the intimate ceremony to be more meaningful than expected, and are grateful to have the opportunity to have multiple opportunities to celebrate.”

Who Should Consider a Sequel Wedding? 

There are many things couples should consider when deciding whether to get married sooner or later. And, for many couples, the idea of pushing their wedding out a year or more encroaches on many of their other life plans, such as buying a home and starting a family. “If you have been holding off on hosting a wedding due to COVID-19, but know that without one you cannot move forward in your lives, then absolutely have a micro wedding now and a sequel wedding later,” urges Danielle Rothweiler, wedding planner and owner of Rothweiler Event Design in Verona, New Jersey.

How to Coordinate a Sequel Wedding

If you’ve already booked vendors, including a wedding planner, you’re likely in luck. Most wedding professionals are ready and willing to transfer deposits so that couples are able to either use that money for a micro wedding or for their future sequel wedding, notes Guerdy Abraira, a Miami-based event stylist and wedding planner.

Connect With Your Vendors

Start by reaching out to each of your booked vendors and find out their postponement policies to make sure you’re not going to lose out on any deposits made. From there, Szleifer recommends deciding which of those already-booked services you can use towards your first event and which are best saved for your sequel wedding. “If you choose to use the same vendors for both events, they’re likely to be much more flexible with applying dollars as you want, and even giving you a better price for the smaller event,” she says. 

Create Guest Lists for Each Event

Your sequel wedding may include your original guest list, and your sooner ceremony may just be close friends and family—but coming to a clear-cut decision on both is crucial. “Family can become very sensitive about attending multiple events, so be sure that your guest list takes into account all family dynamics and that your immediate families are comfortable with the breakdown of each list,” adds Szleifer. 

Notify Your Guests

Once you’ve gotten all of the vendor components squared away, it’s time to notify your guests of all of the changes—both the larger guest list for the sequel wedding and the more intimate guest list reserved for your smaller ceremony. “This is a general rule, but especially applicable during this time, guests are so appreciative of being kept in the know about your plans, expectations, and how you’ll communicate with them,” says Szleifer. “Use your wedding website as a way to easily communicate with your general guests, and reach out to the intimate guest list separately regarding information for the original, now smaller event.” 

Consider How You Want Your Sequel Wedding to Differ

When it comes to planning your sequel wedding, it can be helpful to distinguish it from your first wedding. “If one is religious, make sure and confirm if this will also cover your legal marriage, or if you’ll need to take care of that separately,” says Szleifer. When selecting your ceremony officiants, she recommends having them weigh in on ways to make each ceremony different and meaningful in their own way. 

You also want to think about what's most important to you planning your two separate ceremonies. Tory Smith of Smith + James Events in Los Angeles suggests saving the heartfelt, tearful vows for your smaller ceremony amongst your closest family and friends and the epic dancer party for your sequel wedding when you’ll be able to host more guests. “Maybe with your sequel wedding you have the ceremony be shorter so that it gives you more time to get to really enjoy the party,” she adds.

Commit to the Idea 

Changing your wedding in any capacity is a difficult thing to do, so it’s no surprise if you feel anxious or unsure about the whole concept of having a sequel wedding. Chances are, many of your married friends and family members didn’t have to deal with any of the obstacles that have been set out before you, and that can be frustrating—to say the least! But one of the best pieces of advice that planners are giving their couples is to commit to the idea of a sequel wedding once you’ve set your mind to it. “Find a sequel wedding option that makes you feel excited and then own it!” says Smith. “It may not be the traditional sequence of events you've been dreaming of all your life, but it certainly stretches out the celebration and gives you more room to personalize.”

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