Down the Wedding Aisle...Again. Making Your Second Wedding Fresh and Memorable
Dear April Masini,
I'm getting married for the second time; it is my future husband's first. For that reason, his family wants the whole big wedding, even though I feel a little silly doing it, since I've done it before. I'm wondering how I can plan an appropriate, trendy second wedding that doesn't feel ... well, like my first wedding. I've also got kids who are in middle school, and we're trying to plan our honeymoon around them without making them feel like things have totally changed or they're not the most important thing to me."
What do you think?
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Bride Again,
Anyone who's seen MTV's Sweet 16 reality show or read the recent New York Times article about Bar Mitzvahs knows that celebrations for young adults now rival weddings with DJs, bands, caterers, engraved invitations and wildly expensive suits and dresses for teens who will not fit in the party clothes three weeks after the party because they're growing so fast. All this hoopla over parties raises the bar for weddings. And throw in the fact that first weddings are now only a portion of the wedding industry, eased out by second and third weddings which include children and sometimes even grandparents from the first marriage, too. No wonder weddings now are over the top and so many brides look for novelty when they plan weddings.
By paying attention to the hottest wedding trends and remembering that your wedding, most likely, won't be airing on MTV anytime soon, you can avoid the feelings of your first marriage, which was probably when you were much younger!
Below are some new trends and exceptions I've seen:
- Color. White wedding gowns are now just for first time brides. And even first time brides are opting for pink -- the latest bridal fashion color.
- Who pays? Second, third and fourth weddings are paid for by the couple -- not the parents. They're only on the hook for the first wedding.
- Buh-bye formality. Hotel weddings are only for first time brides. Second, third and fourth time brides are opting for any venue but a hotel or reception hall. Museums, parks, zoos and home weddings are in vogue.
- Registry redux. Tiffany's is unaffordable for most guests -- and impractical for most couples. Wedding registries include Home Depot, Crate and Barrel and there are even honeymoon registries where bride and groom can register to have guests contribute to their honeymoon fund. I find this inappropriate and tacky, but to each his own! The point is, brides and grooms are more open about gifts.
- Cakes are no longer just vanilla. In fact chocolate cakes are a growing trend, as are cupcakes on a tiered presentation instead of a single cake, are very popular, as well.
RULES AND ADVICE FOR SECOND (AND THIRD) WEDDINGS Second, third and fourth marriages are usually lower key affairs in terms of receptions, so they don't get the attention that first marriages do, but open your eyes. Wedding bells are ringing at all different pitches.
- If the marriage is a second marriage for both the bride and the groom, the affair is usually a lower key wedding with offbeat themes and destination weddings popular choices. However, if the wedding is the first for the bride, and the second wedding for the groom, the bride is expected to throw a white first wedding with all the bells and whistles. The rule of thumb is that the wedding is the bride’s day. If it’s the bride’s first wedding, then go all out. If it’s the bride’s second wedding (even if it’s the groom’s first), the tenor of the day is lower key.
- When children from prior marriages are involved in the new marriage you will want to give all the kids a part in the wedding. Allowing the children to be bridesmaids, best men, groomsmen, ring bearers (they can be older as well as young children), flower girls (and boys), etc. If the wedding is a Jewish wedding, you may want to allow the children to hold the “chupa” during the ceremony.
- Ex spouses are not appropriate guests.
- The gown does not have to be white, in fact, throw caution to the wind and for a second or third wedding, pick a color you love that looks great on you! The white picket fence, fairy tale marriage is not part of your journey. Yours is a more colorful one. Show it in your choice of gown.
Blended Family Issue: THE “FAMILYMOON” VS. THE HONEYMOON
Serial marriages and blended families are now the norm rather than the exception, which brings up scheduling issues that don't occur in first marriages without kids – like, “What do we do with the kids during the honeymoon,” and “Do we have custody of the kids on our wedding date?”
Blending families can be an exciting and hopeful time when everyone is on their best behavior. In your enthusiasm to begin again and put the marriage that didn't work out behind you, it's easy to want to jump into the new one as one big happy family and take the kids on the honeymoon. However ... caution advises against such well meaning attempts at taking care of everyone – often at the expense of yourself and your new spouse.
- Good parenting does not include a mandatory honeymoon with kids. In fact, many parents got divorced because they put the children first and their marriage second -- only with the promise of this new union, they've forgotten, or haven't done their homework on why they got divorced and how to make this marriage stronger. Get rid of any guilt. You are not a bad parent if you do not bring your kids on the honeymoon. In fact, you are a good parent because you are creating a solid foundation for your new family. Children can’t be “equal partners” in a family. The adults have to run the show for the least anxiety in the kids.
- The honeymoon is traditionally a time for the newly married couple to celebrate privately and enjoy a special bonding of sex, intimacy and romance that will start them on a long life together, and remind them that whatever comes, they are the backbone of their family. When children are along on the honeymoon, it is impossible for the couple to give each other the intimacy and sexual attention they might otherwise give each other. There will be plenty of time in the marriage for entire family vacations. The honeymoon should remain special -- and a two-person affair.
- Not all blended families become the Brady Bunch. In fact, even non-blended families have kids who fight. But bringing the children on the honeymoon makes you vulnerable to the family problems that could or may arise when the children feel displaced, or are making their transitions with step parents, step siblings and not getting as much attention from Mom or Dad as they did before the wedding. This dynamic is important to deal with – but not now. It will take away from your solidifying your new marriage with your celebratory honeymoon. You will have plenty of time to work on family dynamics at home after the honeymoon.
Best bets for leaving the kids home:
- Allow the other biological parent of the child or children to have some special time with the child while you're on your honeymoon. That parent may be feeling displaced by the new family, and this is a particularly generous way to show that parent, and more importantly, the child, that even though you are marrying and bringing a step mother or step father into the family, the biological mother or father is still part of the child's and the extended/blended family's life. There is a tendency for kids to want to take care of the non-marrying parent, if one of them has not remarried first. This time with that parent can be healing and healthful.
- Grandparents! And lots of 'em. A week at the Grandparents house is a great way for the kids to give you and your new spouse privacy and have some nice time getting to know their grandparents. Aunts and uncles work, too.
- Camp. If you get married in the summer, you may want to schedule your honeymoon around you child's regular overnight camp week, so that you can see your child off before you go on your honeymoon, knowing they're off for a grand week, and so are you two. If your child has never gone to overnight camp before, this is NOT the time to start. The child may end up feeling "shipped off" and "in the way." So use this option only if it's appropriate.