By Ronda Addy
In the past, marriage was considered a rite of passage from child to adult. The wedding ceremony was a celebration of that rite of passage. A second marriage, on the other hand, took place between two adults, so there wasn't the need for all the pomp and circumstance. Today, however, a second marriage is celebrated with the same joy and delight of a first marriage. But what exactly is the etiquette for a second wedding? Let's take a look at some of the factors to consider.
With many couples, there are children to consider. The children should be told about the wedding in private before any public announcements are made. It is also best to inform any ex-spouses and in-laws. Doing this in the form of a note is acceptable if there is bad blood between the two parties.
Bridal showers are acceptable. In fact, the bridal shower is the perfect time to invite any future stepchildren and get better acquainted with them. Most couples who have been married before have all the household items they need, but there is nothing against having a bridal registry for home improvement items or a honeymoon registry. If the couple does not wish gifts, they should say so discretely in the invitations. In lieu of gifts, they may ask that donations be made to their favorite charity.
If the wedding ceremony is to be a small affair with just family and a few friends, invitations are not necessary. A phone call or an informal note will suffice. If the guest list is over 50, the couple should adhere to proper etiquette and send out invitations. For a large second wedding, it is acceptable to set aside a number of invitations for friends and divide the rest equally between the two families. It is inappropriate to invite a former spouse, no matter how good the relationship. Inviting former in-laws, however, is acceptable.
It is also acceptable for the bride to wear white. Although once seen as a sign of virginity, white has since become a sign of joy. If the bride prefers not to wear white, any color is acceptable. A simple off-theface-veil will do, as will one with a tiara. The only attire not recommended is a wedding dress with a long train or a long veil.
When planning the ceremony, the couple may want to consider making it different than the first. They may want to have a private ceremony with a big reception afterwards or have a surprise wedding in which guests think they are going to some sort of party. If children are involved, the couple may want to ask them to serve as ushers, groomsmen, bridesmaids, ringbearers or flower girls. A child could also walk their mother down the aisle or be in charge of the guestbook. To help make children feel like part of the family, many couples opt for a medallion ceremony. During this event, the children are given a medallion to commemorate becoming a new family.
The reception presents another opportunity to involve children. The couple may have their children walk in with them to the reception so they can be announced as a family and sit together at the head table. After their first dance, the couple may have the children join them before opening the floor to others.
There is no guide for a second wedding. Just remember when planning one that it is your wedding, and ultimately, whatever makes you happy goes.