It’s been a couple of years since weddings were on our radar. This year, it seems like the pent-up demand for weddings has finally begun to shake loose, and the wedding industry is breathing a sigh of relief. Suddenly we are all being invited to weddings or planning weddings of our own. Weddings are not just for the young, several of my friends are planning weddings right now. Older women are just as excited about their weddings as young brides, but they may have more to contend with when planning their nuptials. Though planning a wedding is so much fun, I can’t wait to share some new and old etiquette and ideas for a second-time-around wedding. If you are a guest, I have a post about what to wear if you are a wedding guest and one about what to expect as a wedding guest today. (this is for those of you who have been invited to a wedding and might not be familiar with some of the changes in weddings.
If you are a bride-to-be, this one is for you.
Weddings can be a little trickier the second time around. Family and children from the first marriages need to be considered—will they be a part of the ceremony? Are there family issues that need to be worked out before the special day? Dealing with “the ex” can also raise questions—is a possibility of drama in the background?—or is “the ex” going to attend? Either way, their presence can complicate matters on the wedding day. And then there are the comparisons between previous relationships as well the first marriage and second—especially for friends and family who will have been invited to both events. In any event, working to keep family and friends happy can be challenging. Remember, this is your special day, and while keeping friends and family happy is important, your experience is important too.
Including family and friends in unique ways in the wedding can mitigate some of these problems and make for a special and memorable wedding for all. One of the best things about a second wedding is that you can do things differently and make the event personal to you and your family.
In planning a second marriage, mature brides and grooms can be more creative. Second or third marriages are often much different than first the first wedding, often purposely.
These are a few great ideas for second marriages
- Small intimate wedding, big party after. This type of wedding is very popular among older brides, especially for those who had big weddings the first time around.
- A destination wedding—If I were to get married again, this is the type of wedding I would choose. You roll the wedding and honeymoon into one luscious villa in Lake Como and make memories for a lifetime.
- Elopement is another popular option for older couples getting married. In fact, my grandfather eloped the seocnd time around arranging his wedding on a cruise ship. They then hosted a cocktail party for family and friends when they got home. We each got a handwritten letter from him sharing the news.
Mature couples often build their weddings around shared interests—such as beach lovers choosing a sunset beach wedding, a couple who love camping may choose a forest or park wedding with a glamping honeymoon, skiing, water sports, and cruises are among the ideas but wedding themes can be super. Don’t be surprised if the couple chooses a traditional wedding, there is nothing that says that having a big wedding with numerous bridesmaids, a traditional wedding dress and a big reception. Really, anything goes. A note to wedding planners and brides to be: make sure you let guests know what to expect at the wedding if you are going nontraditional. This can be done by adding an insert in the invitation and on your bridal website if you have one. A word about wedding websites-they is a great way to introduce yourselves, share how you met, and provide details about the wedding. If you choose to register for gifts, wedding websites like The Knot make registration easy. You can also let your friends and guests know if you would like a donation to charity in lieu of gifts on your wedding website.
When a couple gets engaged, parties naturally follow. Engagement parties, bridal showers, wedding showers, bachelorette/bachelor parties, bridesmaid’s brunch, and a host of dinners can be a part of the wedding experience. Hosts have plenty of options when it comes to organizing a pre-wedding gathering. With so much excitement around a proposal and wedding, it’s hard to know what to do, and when it comes to second weddings, it’s even more confusing. But here is a list of common parties, and the traditional etiquette rules. Naturally, couples can make other choices—especially second weddings.
The engagement party: An engagement party is held to celebrate a couple’s engagement and can be hosted by the couple, a best friend, or a family member. Gifts are not usually a part of the engagement party, though bringing a thoughtful item such as a wedding planner, book of poetry, books on weddings, toasting flutes, and champaign, or other small thoughtful items to help with the planning of the wedding.
A bridal shower: Bridal showers are intended to help prepare the bride for her life as a married woman. Showers are hosted by the maid of honor, a friend, or a family member. Brides should not host their own showers. The shower itself is considered a gift to the bride. Gifts from guests are a part of the shower experience, so be sure to check the bride’s registry. The bride-to-be may open her gifts while the guests are present, as a part of the festivities—but sometimes they open gifts after the event, when the bride opens her gifts is based on culture and regional traditions. Gifts for a bridal shower may be selected from the bride’s registry or can be a thoughtful gift for her future as a married woman.
Brides who have been married before will often pass on having a shower as their homes are already set up. However, this doesn’t mean that one can’t have a get-together and do something fun.
A wedding shower: Wedding showers include both the bride and groom, gifts for the couple and from the couple’s registry are a part of the wedding shower experience. Much like a bridal shower, the couple may open the gifts while the guests are present, though it is not required. Wedding showers are relatively new, and like bridal showers, they are hosted by a member of the wedding party, a friend, or a family member.
The bridal shower and wedding shower are held after the invitations are sent to wedding guests. People who will not be invited to the wedding should not be invited to showers. If no one steps up to host a shower, the bride and groom can host a gathering, it should not be a “shower” and the bride and groom should not ask for gifts.
Speaking of gifts, shower gifts are brought to the shower, but wedding gifts are typically sent to the couple’s home these days, although some may bring gifts to the wedding reception a secure spot for gifts and checks should be arranged so gifts don’t get lost or damaged. If you don’t know the couple well, a minimum gift of $50-$75 is appropriate for a gift. While couples increasingly request cash for the honeymoon, down payments on homes, and other big-ticket gifts, it is considered rude. is very uncomfortable for guests and should be avoided.
Most older couples have established households, so gifting can be tricky, and often older brides don’t register for gifts. Check to see if the couple has designated a charity for donation, as couples will often make this request for guests and well-wishers who wish to do something in their honor.
Other thoughtful get-togethers for couples who have opted not to receive gifts include a stock the bar party–each guest brings something to stock the couple’s bar or a favorite recipe party where guests bring a cookbook or recipe. These more informal party themes are great when the couple already has “everything”. Arranging an experience for the couple, such as a sunset dinner cruise, or a day at the spa is a great way to honor a couple who has opted not to register for gifts.
Gifts for the Couple Who Have Everything
Sparkling Wine Preservation System
Keep the wedding bubbly bubbling with this innovative set. May the champagne never go flat.
Luxury Hotel Sheet Set
The couple may have just about everything, but have they splurged on a really luxe sheet set? These are gorgeous.
Baccarat Everyday Tumblers
These may be a bit of a splurge for some, but there is something special about sipping cold drinks from fine crystal.
The Wedding Ceremony
A mature couple celebrating a second marriage can enjoy a degree of freedom in planning their nuptials they may not have experienced the first time around. Where once wedding ceremonies were only held at the church or city hall, weddings today are held at a wide range of locations meaningful to the bride and groom. Poetry, handwritten vows, and a range of music can make the event personal to the couple.
The wedding party can include children walking their mother down the aisle, or family members taking part in the wedding celebration in other ways. Today’s weddings provide a lot of latitude for those who don’t want a traditional church wedding.
The wedding gown:
Once upon a time, only first-time brides were allowed to wear white on the big day. In fact, if a bride had “relations”, prior to the wedding, she was expected to wear off white, rather than pure white, though few would walk down the aisle in anything other than pure white, lest people talk.
Today’s wedding attire is completely up to the bride and groom and is often based on the wedding venue. A mature bride can wear anything from a ball gown to shorts, but being the fashion blogger that I am, I am here to help you pick an elegant look for your special day.
Brides over 50 may have to be creative as most bridal designers cater to younger brides. Don’t be surprised if you are directed to the mother of the bride section of a bridal salon. In addition, the dreaded bridesmaid dresses are much more sophisticated and are no longer required to match. It’s also not uncommon for the bride to wear one dress for the ceremony and a second wedding dress at the reception.
Finding the perfect wedding dress is a matter of personal style and body type. Often a simple silhouette works best for mature brides. I would urge you to think outside the box and shop a variety of stores, including department stores and specialty shops. Look at cocktail dresses, mother of the bride dresses, anything that has an elegant style and makes for beautiful casual wedding dresses. Choosing an unexpected dress or a dress with interesting details such as a low back can give your wedding a modern twist.
Wedding Dresses for Second Time Brides
Older brides may want to look for dresses with a unique neckline, or an elegant high neckline depending on the bust. Also, consider a lace illusion neckline if you want to go for something a little more low cut. As for length, you may want to forgo longer trains, and look for tea-length wedding dresses; tea length is so flattering and may just be a perfect choice. Don’t be afraid of delicate lace, soft lines, or even a short wedding dress to make your look extra special.
At the end of the day, your wedding is yours to plan and remember. Put your own special flair to the plans, making them as traditional or unique as you wish.