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Second Wedding Etiquette - A Guide For The Second Time Around

Second Wedding Etiquette  - A Guide For The Second Time Around

Second Wedding Etiquette - A Guide For The Second Time Around

Second, Third, & Fourth Weddings Are Happening With Renewed Panache; And That Means New Trends In Wedding Dresses and more

Advice Seeker :
Dear April Masini,

I'm getting married - again! I feel so lucky and happy, but I don't know what the proper etiquette is for second weddings. Can you help me out?

Second Time Around


April Masini's Advice :

Dear Second Time,

Congratulations and I'm so glad you wrote in. I get lots of questions from second time brides about how to do it right this time around - starting with the wedding.

Weddings are a booming tradition, and despite the rising divorce rate, love is here to stay and second, third, and fourth weddings are happening with renewed panache -- and that means new trends in wedding dresses!

What to Wear?
White weddings are no longer just for first weddings -- anything goes, and many brides choose white for their second weddings, too. But the real determining factors in wedding gowns are:

Is it a first, second or third wedding?

Many brides who have been married before opt for something funky or festive in dress and decor for a second wedding. Choices include colors and lengths that run the gamut. Ethnic choices are also fun -- like Indian saris or Japanese kimonos. Bridal salons are still tried and true retail outlets, but for this kind of wedding, so, too are couture departments of department stores where evening gowns are sold.

Age Specific Dressing

Young brides can often get away with slinky slip dresses -- whether they’re long or short -- and therefore, have more options than more mature brides who may feel more comfortable in something like a cocktail dress, or a dress with a matching coat, like the one Camilla Parker Bowles wore this year.
On the other hand, older brides don’t usually feel that they are bound by tradition the way newer brides may, and will feel comfortable in a broad floral print dress that younger brides would only wear to a wedding shower.

Color Code Your Gown To Your Life

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.

What kind of wedding should I have?

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 ears. Wedding bells are ringing at all different pitches. Which one is yours?

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 (or her parents) 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.

If You Have Children Or Step-Children

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.

Some couples choose to honor their children in the second wedding, as it's not just a blending of two people, but of two families. If you want to do this, then choose to make one part of the service for both of you to honor your children. You can give them a blessing as a new couple or you can give them a token like a piece of jewelry or some other item, during the ceremony, that honors the kids in a new way.

Depending on how you get along with the kids? biological parents, it is a nice touch to speak a few words to honor their other parents, without who's journey, would not make this chapter possible, and although they are not here today, they are important because they are the parents of these children, who are now yours, too.

Who NOT to Invite

Ex-spouses are not appropriate guests. Ex-spouses parents are not appropriate guests. Any of your ex's friends that you didn't keep in touch with, but wished you had - are not appropriate guests. This is not the time to catch up.


While cream or white Crane stationery with raised black lettering is traditional for weddings, when it comes to second or third weddings, use your imagination and choose what you love. If you want an orange invitation with chartreuse lettering, go for it. If you want a photo on the wedding invitation, knock yourself out. The important thing to remember is to honor the ceremony that will bind you and your new spouse together, so while you can be creative with the colors, fonts, prints, and pictures, choose your words carefully and respectfully.

Who Pays?

First weddings are traditionally paid for by the bride's family, although it is common for the groom's family to offer to pay for liquor and flowers if they feel they want to. Second weddings are not the parents responsibility.
Who pays for the second wedding DOES matter because it sets the tone for the rest of the marriage. If the bride makes a lot of money, she may want to contribute, but how she contributes is important.

If the bride pays for the whole wedding, she will be setting the tone for paying for most of the expenses in the marriage. If the bride does not pay for any of the wedding, she will be setting the tone for a more traditional marriage. If the bride pays for exactly half of the wedding, she will be setting the tone for the marriage of financial equality. If she pays for some of the wedding she will be setting the tone for the marriage of chipping in what she can.

None of these are right or wrong situations - but they can be for you. Make sure you really think about what kind of marriage you want, and how your wedding is the catalyst - or the jump off point - for the love of your life, and the life of love you want.