should i have a joint wedding with my sister?
November 8, 2011 2:37 PM   Subscribe

My fiance and I are considering a joint wedding with my sister and her fiance. Are we all crazy?

I should start off by saying: I have a good relationship with my sister. Both of our fiances are carpenters and often work together. We live about a mile apart. We are both reasonable people.

My fiance and I have been engaged for a while. I am in school until 2013 and after that we plan on building a house. We will never make much money and right now we are broke, very broke. We have decided to put off the wedding until we can afford it, which would be in 2013.

My sister and her fiance just got engaged. She proposed the idea of a joint wedding. The pros are:

1. We have both always wanted a big wedding where we could invite our entire family, but if we each had our own individual weddings we wouldn't be able to afford it. Pool our money together and we could.
2. My family would only have to contribute toward one, albeit large, wedding rather than two.
3. It would be fun to have everyone's families there, since we all (my family, my fiances family, my sister's fiance's family) enjoy each other's company and have no grievances with each other.

Here are the potential cons:
1. My sister and I won't each have a "special day". Neither of us really care about this. We are both easy going and have similar tastes. My mom would probably run the show, anyway.
2. Would guests think it's really weird? (Almost) all of them would know all four of us anyway. We wouldn't make them sit through two 20 minute ceremonies, two cake cuttings, four first dances, mother/son, daughter/father dances. Is there a way to get creative with this?

My fiance and my sister's fiance think that this is an awesome idea that will result in one big party. So do my parents. My fiance and my sister's fiance haven't brought the idea up with their respective families yet.

My sister and I aren't opposed to abandoning this idea, so I'd like to know if there are any pitfalls that we aren't considering. Or, any tips on the logistics of this? Not really sure how to walk down the aisle together, for instance.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (48 answers total)
Completely depends on the fiancé's and their families. If they're cool then do it. If they even slightly hesitate, then reconsider.
posted by Murray M at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I kind of love this idea, especially if your social circles overlap tremendously. I think weddings should be happy celebrations and not expensive social burdens, which two weddings in one family in a relatively close period of time is going to be for a lot of people.

I think it sounds like a wonderful joyous occasion.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2011 [45 favorites]

Another vote for this being awesome.
posted by true at 2:42 PM on November 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

If everyone's cool, why not? It's still totally going to be your special day. Just, theirs too! Nothing wrong with that.

Only pitfall I can think of is the "too many cooks" issue with every decision that needs to be made. Gonna be harder. There are a lot of decisions, like how many invitations, blablabla, that can get difficult.
posted by zomg at 2:42 PM on November 8, 2011

I think both you and your sister need to sit your fiances down in private and ask if they want to do this. You are the only four people who matter.

If they do, then screw what anyone else may think odd. A great big party with absolutely everyone you all love sounds like a wedding I'd like to be at!
posted by dumdidumdum at 2:43 PM on November 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

This is a crazy awesome idea, given all your givens and the amazing fact that no one has any beef with anyone else. Double weddings have waxed and waned in popularity over the years, but no one would think it's weird. Bonus: Overlapping guests/attendants/etc won't need to shell out to participate in two weddings. They will love you for this!

I think you do everything together. Like, one ceremony, with both couples exchanging vows. You cut the cake together. Etc. But that's just for efficiency's sake—you can do it however you want! I would suggest sitting down all together and deciding how and when you'll communicate about and decide stuff. You *really* don't want to be resentful about anything in the planning process.

Basically, if you and your sister are really close—like, you'd like to share this with each other and don't just find it convenient—and if the fiances and their families are into it, it sounds like a fantastic idea!
posted by peachfuzz at 2:45 PM on November 8, 2011

I think this sounds awesome, honestly. As long as the four of you are really, truly, okay with it.
posted by jeather at 2:47 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adding on to peachfuzz, during the reception you both could have your own cakes (different flavors or something if you can't decide) and cut them on the same table at the same time. You could also each have your own vows to recite if you want, but do the rest of the ceremony together (prayers, lighting of the unity candle, songs, whatever). I didn't want poeple to just sit there and watch me dance so we didn't do the whole "first dance" thing with anyone...just come in and eat and mingle!

I totally think this is a cool idea...but the fiance's need to be totally on board with it first.
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:51 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this is an awesome idea and that you and your sister should, before announcing you're doing this, compare ideas and make sure you're on the same page. That means size, food, music/band, colors, themes, formality, etc. In fact, I'd get a checklist that runs from invitations to favors and have each of you rank them in order, just to be sure you're really compatible for thsi adventure.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

This/these weddings (NYTimes) seem like the perfect compromise. Basically, you've got everyone in one place, but you have two ceremonies. This way you can still have things the way you and your partner want it, and so can your sister, but you're able to save money on things like chairs and tables, maybe flowers, etc.
posted by Madamina at 2:58 PM on November 8, 2011

uh one quick thing to really think about- say some really terrible aweful thing happened and your sis's marriage breaks up. Is that going to mess with your memory of the day? If there are stressy moments and arguments between all of you will you be able to set it aside for the sake of the day? Weddings are stressful, if anyone is prone to flipping their shit and causing trouble, it's a pretty high risk activity.

Otherwise this is a totally awesome idea. It sounds like it would be a great thing for everyone to be able to attend and be a part of it.
posted by Blisterlips at 3:03 PM on November 8, 2011

On the surface it sounds great but just to play devil's advocate for a second, I would think very carefully about how the actual ceremonies would be conducted and what each couple is envisaging. Would the ceremonies be conducted simultaneously? One after the other? If one after the other, who goes first? Normally there is a lot of celebrating and congratulating that takes place after the ceremony - if that happens after the first, how do you get people to sit down and concentrate again for the second? If simultaneously, one celebrant or two? Similar, traditional ceremonies, or would they be quite different, reflecting each couple and their personalities? I guess in a sense I am just echoing DarlingBri's comment - before deciding, go through the specifics in detail, and have a realistic sense of the practicalities and logistics of the day.

Congratulations to you all!
posted by unlaced at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2011

Also, obviously things like venue, food and music are shared but you may still need 2 photographers, etc. Also consider things like the 1st dance if there were hard feelings if a father danced with one sister versus another- or would there be two first dances.

If I'm a friend of yours, but no of your sister do I still give you both presents? I would feel bad to, but then a gain to give of differing amounts would be weird too.

I think this is an awesome idea, just REALLY think it through.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:09 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is brilliant - do it.
posted by cluck at 3:18 PM on November 8, 2011

This sounds crazy awesome, I am not a future bridezilla though and am predicting that my wedding will be a byob BBQ on the beach but it sounds like both your sister and you will not be bridezillas either. Really consider this fact though. If either of you is going to have extreme opinions on parts of the wedding then this could go really seriously bad.

No one needs their own special day, it's not like you have to have joint anniversary dinners for the rest of time. Go for it! Any realatives (as long as they are not paying for the wedding) who think this is weird or somehow tacky should just be ignored. My friend's in-laws who are not paying a cent have threatened to not attend the wedding because it is going to be vegan. Treat these nay-sayers in the same way: "I'm so sorry you can't be there, we will really miss your presence"
posted by boobjob at 3:24 PM on November 8, 2011

I was prepared to come here and say, "Don't be an idiot, this is a horrendous idea!" But after reading your pros and cons, this sounds pretty great - go for it!
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 3:36 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think this sounds crazy, but I think it's going to have to be carefully planned. I would probably throw a lot of "traditional" stuff out the window as too complicated, and I would register separately, as well.
posted by sm1tten at 3:37 PM on November 8, 2011

If it was good enough for the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice, it's good enough for you. Mazel Tov!
posted by Think_Long at 3:39 PM on November 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

Totally awesome! Do it!
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:50 PM on November 8, 2011

If you and your sister are close, and the two guys are close, and the four of you like the idea... wow, how cool! In some ways, I'd think it could actually remove some of the pressure of the wedding since you'd be sharing the experience that much more.

Might other people think it's weird? Maybe the fiancés' families? Perhaps... but it's YOUR wedding. When those people get married, let them have their weddings as they see fit :)

The only catch is if the grooms' fathers are expected to pay for this. That could complicate things if they don't approve of the idea and choose not to pay for it... but it doesn't sound like that's what's going on here... so...

Another vote here for awesome! Maybe even super awesome!
posted by 2oh1 at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2011

Super, duper, wonderful idea. I have 5 sisters and you're making me regret that none of them were ready to be married when I was, because I would have loved to do something like this.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:09 PM on November 8, 2011

"Double weddings" used to be (early 1960s and before) more common. It's a great idea!
posted by jgirl at 4:22 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bridesmaids- for the both of you, or one each? Do you share close friends? What about the groomsmen? Would it be the same bridesmaids colours or complimenting different colours for the two wedding parties?

Will you fight about stuff like the flowers, colours, music, or be able to work it out? Plan it like a double to see how it goes before committing.

Grooms mothers- how do you reckon they'd take to the idea?

As for walking in, how about your dad walks you both in, one on each arm?

And definitely ditch the tradition of bride/groom's side of the seating!

Ditto to 2 photogs, 2 cakes, etc. Not sure about two celebrants- I'm sure you can do a P&P "this man, and this woman, AND this man, and this woman"

Also- the wedding does not have to be perfect to ensure you have a perfect marriage- I'm sure you all know this and it's a bit 'duh, of course' but the way some people freak out about wedding details you'd think it was the case.
You make your marriage, your wedding doesn't make your marriage.

and if people are weird, explain that you BOTH wanted to have a large family wedding, but it wasn't fair for one to have a big wedding and the other not.

Send double invites to people who know you both, send singles to people who just know one of you, perhaps.
posted by titanium_geek at 4:24 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I searched for "double wedding how to" and came up with this, which is an interesting take. The two sisters processed one after the other, they also had two father-daughter dances with their own choice of songs, in reverse order to how they entered.
posted by titanium_geek at 4:30 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be sort of a wet blanket, but you asked for things to consider on the con side, and here are a few of them.

1. You and you sister will be the center of attention. Will the grooms be slighted? It's their day too, and they may be hesitant to tell you they want to be the Beau of the Ball too because that sounds juvenile. But they may want it anyway. See if you can suss out their true feelings.

2. There are many decisions for which there cannot be compromise. How will you make those decisions when one disagrees? Two siblings I know threw a party together for their parents, hit one of these decisions, and are basically no longer friends. This wasn't even their wedding. It was just a party. But they simply could not agree on whether to invite Person X, and their friendship was forever on the rocks. Having a way to answer these questions where compromise simply cannot happen will be critical.

3. Budget issues will be huge, nasty surprises. Okay, maybe they will only probably be huge, nasty surprises. But a big party on two tight budgets seems precarious.

I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just providing some potential pitfalls for you to consider. And on that final note, my father always said, "The bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage."
posted by Capri at 4:34 PM on November 8, 2011

This sounds AWESOME.

If you need help figuring it out logistically, double weddings were somewhat popular back in the day, so old etiquette books may help. My 1978 Amy Vanderbilt has a whole section on them! Mazel tov!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:36 PM on November 8, 2011

I would LOVE to go to this wedding.
posted by lalex at 4:46 PM on November 8, 2011

I think this does sound really weird.

So what?

Awesome things are almost always at least a little weird.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:57 PM on November 8, 2011

For a "first dance", the difficulty is that you would each have your own music you enjoy, correct?

I'd look to finding a mashup, 2+ songs that are mixed together to produce one, sometimes more awesome, song. You could either search for a mashup which contains bits of some favorites from each of you, thereby dismissing the idea of a couple's "special song"; this would particularly work well if one of you likes a music genre completely different from the other, such as indie and rap, the Beatles and techno, etc. Or you could hire a -really- good DJ who happens to be into "mixing up" that sort of thing.......I promise it will make light of your double wedding and if you enjoy it, your guests will too.

Get a knife and, as a joke to poke fun at yourselves, tie a broom handle or some such. All 4 of you (pair to each side) hold the knife and cut the cake.

Similar cute ideas can come out of this. Matching sexy girdles? Matching "something blue"? You both dancing with your dad as he twirls one away, takes the hand of another, playfully or somberly shakes it up, en repeat?
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:02 PM on November 8, 2011

Double weddings have waxed and waned in popularity over the years, but no one would think it's weird.
I kind of thought it sounded weird.*

And some of your family & friends probably would too, though in no way do I think that should stop you, if you all get together and talk this through and can find a way to make it work.

I think it would be much easier to pull of this off if you did a casual thing -- I mean, you and your sister both want a big wedding: so that means five! extended families, not to mention all the friends you want to invite. That's going to be crazy huge. You are probably going to be much more restricted in your choice of venues, which could potentially offset the savings you would get from this (especially if, alternatively, you had a small single wedding instead of a large single wedding). If you did a more casual/BBQ-y thing I could see it working pretty well, but it sounds from your question like the whole point of this is to have a "typical" wedding. Basically, get crunching numbers to get an idea of how this would all add up. And from what I've heard, tack on about $5,000-10,000 more than your estimate.

*I think pretty much all weddings are weird, especially the big ones.
posted by imalaowai at 5:07 PM on November 8, 2011

I have nieces who did this. It was awesome. As long as you dont both have really strong opinions that are different, i say go for it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:23 PM on November 8, 2011

Oops, it would be 6 extended families: two for you and your sister; two for groom A; two for groom B. I suck at math.
posted by imalaowai at 5:29 PM on November 8, 2011

I'm not sure if I could sit still for two very formal wedding services and some stilted first dance traditions and cake cutting fooferah. You are both marrying tradesmen, and I think you ought to kick it casual for the services and the reception. Your guests will have more fun and remember it fondly, and you will have far fewer headaches.

Someday when you're all executives and contractors and wealthy you can fly everybody to Bora Bora and have one of those fantasy wedding vow renewal things you see on television with 500 of your closest friends. For now, put your friends first, have a giant fun bash and make it comfortable and enjoyable and memorable.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:51 PM on November 8, 2011

I perform weddings, and while I've never performed a double wedding, I have met people who had them, and it was always a source of great pride for them. I say go for it.
posted by 4ster at 6:32 PM on November 8, 2011

I had a joint wedding with my brother and it went great. The work was split up and so were the costs. (We did things like invitations, they handled things like booking the hall, and then we all picked the menu together.) We had separate photographers and shared the officiant. I was his best man and he was mine. My wife had her sister-in-laws as co-maid of honors and was the maid of honor for my brother's wife. (The two wedding dresses were kind of neat to see.)

The brides got their special day by spending most of the morning at a spa getting spoiled. My wife and I marched in together and marched out together so she got to be the center of attention like a bride should be. (My brother and his wife did the same thing.)

Both sets of parents were great. I think they appreciated the help with the work involved ans sharing the costs.

I say go for it.
posted by fellion at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

The whole thing sounds like it could be a lot of fun, especially because of the overlap in your social circles.

As someone says upthread, having your father walk both of you down the aisle at the same time, one on each arm, sounds lovely.
For the first dance, obviously your dad can only dance with one of you at a time, but could you enlist one of your grandfathers for the second bride, then trade off halfway through the dance?
I wouldn't try to make the couples' outfits match, just complementing each other is good; but one pair in jeans and the other in formalwear would look odd.
If one particular person is acceptable to all four of you, one reverend/priest/celebrant would probably be best.
Because the four of you will already be lined up in the front of the church, keep the bridesmaids & groomsmen to a minimum, say one attendant for each of you --- that brings the crowd at the alter to eight, which is plenty! Or maybe even one shared maid of honor for both brides and one shared best man for both grooms; ditto one flowergirl and one ringbearer.
As for the wedding cake, consider something like one large round cake, and the four of you at the cardinal points around it, each with a cakeknife. Or a long oblong or rectangular cake, with one couple at each end.

Just remember: the truly important thing is the marriage, which will hopefully last for many, many years. The wedding, no matter how big or how small, is just one day.
posted by easily confused at 6:36 PM on November 8, 2011

I love it. My only suggestion is that you agree that you aren't lockstep doing everything together. For instance if she wants her bridesmaids to wear green and you want fuchsia, then okay bridesmaids wear different dresses. Can't agree on a first dance song? No problem they'll dance then you'll dance.

If you're going to get all stressy and lockstepy, then don't do it. If you can enjoy having a shared day, then go for it.
posted by 26.2 at 6:36 PM on November 8, 2011

From the OP:
Thank you all for the advice and reassurance! Reading all of the potential pitfalls made me realize that we actually have quite a good scenario for this to succeed. I think we are going to go ahead and do it. Some more info:
-Before we came up with this idea, neither of us had wanted bridesmaids besides each other. So- no big wedding party.
-Both of us had always planned on getting married at my parent's farm, so the venue is taken care of
-We both work at the same restaurant and will probably have them cater it. Our boss is justice of the peace in our town and we are pretty close with him, so he will probably officiate the ceremony
-We will definitely talk to our fiances separately to make sure they are totally on board. The potential pitfall I see is that it will be all "SISTER BRIDES WOOO" and they would get left in the background. (I don't think either of them would mind, but I would feel bad.)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:56 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wedding planning can turn the most normal, sane, reasonable, easy-going person into a big ball of crazy. Just a warning. You say you'll be all agreeable on decision-making, but sometimes that just doesn't work out.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:53 PM on November 8, 2011

If a follow-up is appropriate in MeTa when the time comes, that would be great!
posted by jgirl at 8:01 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

would your memories of the event be soured if you or your sister got a divorce in the future? just another risk to consider.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:25 PM on November 8, 2011

A wedding is generally two things, for most people: a ceremony and a party.

What the ceremony means to you is one thing, and if you want to share that with another couple, that's awesome. That's the most personal part of the proceedings. It may be that you want to share it, it may be that you want to have two small separate events to solemnize your individual marriages. This is easily worked out, depending on how important it is for you to have a crowd to witness the proceedings.

What the party means is that everyone you like and love is with you to celebrate. If you (as a couple) and your sister (as a couple with her partner) pretty much have a lot of overlap with the people you'd be having with you, then there is no reason, in my opinion, not to throw in together and have a double-great party to celebrate your marriages. In fact it seems like a great idea.

Make it clear via word of mouth that anyone who wouldn't already be getting gifts for both of you should not worry about getting gifts for both of you. Most likely all the marrying parties are old enough to have enough stuff that you won't be super worried about feathering your nests with gifts as it is, this being the modern age.
posted by padraigin at 8:46 PM on November 8, 2011

I have a Miss Manners book right here with a question on the double wedding. (The question is a parent asking how on earth to handle two daughters getting engaged at the same time. Miss Manners says that the solution is the "double wedding, one of the few cases in which tradition and practicality join forces.")

The reason I remembered that this is in there is because I loved this line (I love Miss Manners):

"In the Processional, the older sister (with retinue) comes down the aisle on her father's arm, followed by the younger sister (with retinue) escorted by her brother, uncle or other unoccupied male. If this precedence gives the impression that the older bride is rushing down the aisle to beat her younger sister to the altar, don't blame Miss Manners. She did not make up these rules.
posted by artychoke at 9:35 PM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Wow. This sounds like like a stunningly beautiful wedding in the making.

You and your sister seem very well suited to create a lovely event together, for your fiances, family, friends and selves. If there is any anxiety from the grooms or their families, give them each some special attention in your readings: perhaps each groom has a best man to relate a touching yet slightly embarrassing story about them?

If I knew all four of you, I'd be double-overjoyed to see you all get married. Celebrate all of the bonds you have - these are what sustain us through thick and thin.
posted by SakuraK at 10:11 PM on November 8, 2011

In the Processional, the older sister (with retinue) comes down the aisle on her father's arm, followed by the younger sister (with retinue) escorted by her brother, uncle or other unoccupied male.

Miss Manners is, as always, spot on for traditional etiquette. FWIW, you have far more choice here just from a practical POV. You do not have to be "given away" and do not need an escort at all; you are fully capable of walking by yourself. Alternatively, you and your soon-to-be-spouse can walk together; this is what my husband and I did.

I point this out only because slecting and splitting of parents etc can be hard in a non-traditional wedding or with a non-traditional family. I had the issue of Too Many Dads, so rather than choose, we opted to skip the issue entirely and had my dad and my other dad do readings. Everything can ultimately be worked out if you look for alternative ways to get jobs done!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister (with whom I am very close) sprung the idea of a joint wedding on me about four months before my own wedding, which I'd been planning for about a year. She had been engaged for a few months, and thought it would be FUN! and it would MAKE SO MUCH SENSE! for us to do it all at once. I said no. She told me, as if she were being saintly, that her fiance's family thought I was being unreasonable and said family members were actually counseling her (my maid of honor) to hold her wedding on the same day, just to teach me a lesson. She ended up getting married four weeks after I did, which means our out-of-town family (read: all of our family) had to either pony up for two trips and two presents and all, or pick one of us. I'm a middle child and used to sharing everything with said sister, so the one day in my life that was supposed to just be about me and my new husband was full of lots of little "Can't believe you're both getting married!" and "Two girls getting married the same summer! Don't know how your parents are doing it!" remarks. Cool.

What you're talking about is not that. What you're talking about, frankly, sounds totally awesome, and it's clear that you'll be putting a lot of time and effort into making it as easy on your fiances and families as possible. I'm strongly in the "go for it!" camp.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:06 AM on November 9, 2011

I love this idea.

Logistics: what if you have a wide aisle and you walk down it with both your parents? So it would be like Dad, You, Sis, Mom, all with linked arms. Or, you and your sis could just walk each other down the aisle arm in arm, if you're not too into tradition.

For the actual ceremony, I think it would be cool to have one "structure" - so, all the officiant's words, and the readings, etc, but have different vow sections. So, you go through all the speeches and the readings, etc, then when you get to the vow portion you and your fiance exchange vows, then your sis and her fiance exchange vows, then the officiant pronounces you both married, everyone kisses and cheers and voila.

I like the earlier suggestion of doing all the rest of the reception events at the same time - cut two cakes at the same time, do all your toasts at the same time, do your first dances at the same time, etc.

Good luck!
posted by ohsnapdragon at 6:18 AM on November 9, 2011

If you have access to online copies of older newspaper editions, especially small city or small town outlets, it would be fun to look at the wedding news. I know you will find double weddings!

Heck, I'm going to do that myself!
posted by jgirl at 7:33 PM on November 9, 2011

« Older The fine line between understanding and way too...   |   Why are some women offended by the term "ladies"? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.