"Congratulations on getting married a SECOND time!" ... sigh.
October 20, 2012 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Divorcee getting married for the second time and a full wedding's to be planned, mixed feelings on the wedding part. Tell me the personal side of your 2nd (+) wedding experiences.

I love and adore my man like I've never loved anyone before, and was in tears with happiness when he proposed last week, at Neist Point on the Isle of Skye in Scotland (thanks for the travel recommendation, MeFi!). He's made a big sacrifice for me by leaving the military to end our long-distance situation (official as of yesterday!). We've talked a lot about our future together and have been steadily setting a solid foundation for it for some time now. We're ready for this next step.

I'm elated to be marrying him, but not so enthusiastic about having a wedding - I would rather elope or go to the JotP. Partly for the cost of it (we're planning on buying a house next year), moreso because it's my second wedding and that brings up negative feelings in several ways (more on that in a bit).

But he loves weddings, I swear they're his favorite kind of social function. We've been to at least 10 weddings in the last 2 years, mostly for his friends. He loves all of it - the ceremony, the dressing up, the visiting with a ton of people you know and love, and especially the dance at the end. He wants a traditional wedding very badly, so for him I will do it. I will suck it up and work on get over my wedding hang-ups -- he's made big sacrifices for me, I will do the same for him. I've got no one to relate to on this though.

Hangups include but are not limited to the following:
My first was a traditional Catholic wedding when I was 21, it was awesome but I associate it with my ex :( Planning another one of similar magnitude (and probably general format), I've no choice but to relate to the experience of my first wedding, which I wish I could detach from my ex somehow. I feel embarrassed that it's not my first, that there's a negative stigma attached to it all. I dread the thought of someone making failed-humor comments of "well this time round maybe it'll stick", especially at the event. Yet I find my knee-jerk reaction to a lot of people getting giddy for me and treating me like a newbie bride who needs advice is "well, this is my second wedding" in a "don't patronize me" kind of way, which is rather negative and I wish I could stop doing that (this point, in particular!) At least there will hardly be anyone who's attended both weddings, besides close family - my social circle's changed quite a bit in a decade, as has our extended family. I still feel weird about asking them to help with another wedding for me - neither of my younger sisters have gotten married yet.

You're all thinking "well if he wants it, let him plan it on his own!" but a) I'm the planning type, he's not - logistical and financial ruin lie down that road and b) I'm warming up to the whole thing, slowly. We'll be planning it together.

I don't know anyone, let alone anyone still in prime 1st wedding age-range who have done a second wedding. I haven't been able to find much to read on other brides' 2nd (+) wedding experiences either (positive or negative) either. Even a real-life worst-scenario example would be appreciated, for perspective. So really I'd like to hear about that from you - your stories, please!
posted by lizbunny to Human Relations (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any experience with planning weddings, but why don't you just make this one as different from the first one as possible. How about a red dress instead of a white one? How about an outdoor wedding instead of a church one? Carry handmade paper flowers instead of real ones. Cupcakes instead of cakes. Make it fun and silly instead of somber and sad which is probably how you feel about your last marriage. Think of it as a celebration of this new and better union, not as your 'second wedding'.
posted by greta simone at 9:44 AM on October 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

It sounds like this is his first wedding, and that it is very important to him to have a big celebration.

But a big celebration doesn't have to be extremely expensive. My friends just had a wonderful wedding for under $1000 - they married at City Hall, but then had a big potluck at a local community centre. Some other friends of mine had their wedding celebration at a barn - there was a hog roast and a ceilidh, but all for a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding hall and fancy catered dinner.

If he is the one who really wants a traditional wedding, it's not unreasonable to expect him to do the lion's share of the planning. Even if it doesn't come naturally to him, it's something one can learn.
posted by jb at 9:47 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

My first wedding (age 26) was a traditional church affair with dinner reception and dancing, about 100 guests. It was a first wedding for both of us.

My second wedding (age 36) was also a church wedding, with a wedding luncheon and then a casual reception in the evening, about 50 guests. It was his first wedding.

The approach I took the second time around was that it was his first wedding, and it should be 'real' and have the items that were important to him. Ask your fella what the important things are to him - does he want you to have a 'proper' wedding dress? is a church location important? does a reception need to include a meal? etc. Find out what the baseline of "it's a real wedding" means to him. Maybe he'd be happy with a garden wedding with a pastor officiating, for example - something that would make it different enough for you to enjoy the day, but also make it feel right to him.

FWIW, I didn't find very much stigma for being 'the second time around'. Yes, it was a smaller group. Yes, my dress was a little plainer (but still very much a bridal gown!). But when it comes right down to it, friends and family were happy to celebrate a happy occasion with us. There were no rude jokes, no nothing. Be happy. Have fun. It will be fine. And congratulations!
posted by agentmitten at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I agree with greta simone. You can still have a big wedding and make it as different from your first wedding as you want. I'm getting married for the third time, but this will be my first actual wedding. My first two were in front of JoP's.

Anyway, you can still have all the pomp and circumstance but just change the details. It's your second wedding, right? So you don't' need a white wedding gown - pick the gown of your choice. Go crazy with the decor. Have a non-traditional wedding cake.

Also, if you're overwhelmed and don't have anyone to talk to, hire a wedding planner type person. That's what they're for. My wedding is going to be a simple, backyard wedding, and I'm still considering hiring one.

Your wedding doesn't have to be expensive either there are HUNDREDS of DIY wedding sites online - go to pintrest and type "wedding DIY" in the search and you'll be overwhelmed with all kinds of suggestions (it's also a good place to store ideas).
posted by patheral at 9:58 AM on October 20, 2012

The advice to make it 'different' is obvious and therefore not what I'm after, but thanks :)
posted by lizbunny at 10:04 AM on October 20, 2012

Also, don't be embarrassed. Those who were around the first time are presumably happy for you to have moved on to a happier relationship.
posted by greta simone at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I read your question as 'how to feel different about this wedding', hence my advice. What is your question then?
posted by greta simone at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

I agree. A "real" wedding doesn't need to be sad or boring. "Ceremony" doesn't need to be stuffy. The good news is that this a fantastic opportunity to practice compromising so you both get what you need, just like you'll be doing for the rest of your (happily) married life. Can you meet in the middle so that he gets the traditional wedding things that are most important to him, while you get what you need so that this is different enough from your first wedding to make you happy? I love greta simone's idea of wearing a different-colored dress, for example.

This should really be a big, fabulous party that celebrates the beginning of your new life together. It can be fun. Tradition doesn't need to be stuffy. I walked down the aisle to a gypsy jazz trio playing Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'". We had our reception in a nice restaurant and had an afterparty that prominently featured Rock Band and a hot tub. Everyone is still talking years later about how much fun they had, and it was a fairly traditional wedding in most ways. You don't even need to have a formal, sit-down dinner--you can have a cocktail party in a gorgeous old hotel, or an upscale barbecue in a botanical garden. Or rent out a museum! This can really be whatever you want it to be. Having a fancy occasion does not need to follow a Wedding Template.

By the way, I wouldn't worry about potential criticism from others regarding a second wedding. Anyone who would even think of throwing shade on the happy occasion of this new beginning would be acting so far beyond the pale that the behavior really wouldn't be worth even acknowledging. Your loved ones will just be happy for you.

posted by anonnymoose at 10:10 AM on October 20, 2012

My father's (3rd) and stepmother's (2nd) wedding was a small Sunday afternoon event. It was at a local hotel - but with more of a bed and breakfast feel than a large hotel chain that usually hosts wedding receptions. They did some traditional wedding things - ring bearer, flower girl, stepmom walked down the aisle and was given away by her brother. But I loved the non-traditional things too. She wore a taupe colored dress, and instead of a full sized cake everyone got their own little mini wedding cake (complete with take home box adorned with a sticker of their names and the date - adorable and delicious). The officiant was from a local church, even though they were not members and are still not church going people*.

The wedding was very much an expression of who they are as a couple. I think that you and your fiancee can do the traditional wedding things he wants, but with whatever twist makes them your own. If you keep that in mind while planning, I'm sure you'll do fine. So many people do so many different things with weddings these days, there's tons of information out there about how to have a 'different' wedding.

My dad went to meet the officiant on the same day I got baptized. He joked about going to church twice in the same day, "I'm setting the holy world on fire!" They also got scolded by the officiant for kissing when my stepmom got to the altar. It was a good laugh for all of us, and kind of a symbol of how they've done things out of order.
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2012

I've no choice but to relate to the experience of my first wedding, which I wish I could detach from my ex somehow.

How true is this, really? I'm not doubting the vigour of your reaction, but can you try to look at (for example) photos from your first wedding with distance and compassion for the young couple portrayed? You're no longer that girl, and that boy has nothing to do with the life in front of you now. You are marrying a different man you've acquired the wisdom and maturity to love.

I feel embarrassed that it's not my first, that there's a negative stigma attached to it all.

Most people agree that sticking it out in a miserable marriage is a bad thing. The individuals you think might feel differently, and have generalized into a judging mass, don't matter. What does is happiness, yours and your fiance's. Think through who these judging people are and disarm them by interrogating their reasoning.

I dread the thought of someone making failed-humor comments of "well this time round maybe it'll stick", especially at the event.

If that does happen, find a way to join in the humour of it (not saying it's brilliant comedy, now) while not undermining your marriage or feelings. (Not feeling particularly funny or cogent today, but something along the lines of 'it's impossible not to stick to that honeypot' [or something better].) You know what your intentions are and what you're committing to.

Yet I find my knee-jerk reaction to a lot of people getting giddy for me and treating me like a newbie bride who needs advice is "well, this is my second wedding" in a "don't patronize me" kind of way, which is rather negative and I wish I could stop doing that (this point, in particular!)

Well, that is awkward. You're not a kid and you don't need advice on planning a wedding. But people love giving advice for lots of reasons, and one of the nicer ones is that they want to express support. So, thank them with that in mind, and refocus the conversation on your plan in a decisive, declarative tone, i.e., without inviting further comment, or being snappy/reactive. (E.g.: 'That's a lovely idea. I'm doing x.')

Congratulations, all the best!
posted by nelljie at 10:26 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've no choice but to relate to the experience of my first wedding, which I wish I could detach from my ex somehow.

I get why you're thinking this way, but you don't really have no choice. Presumably you had lots of birthdays with your ex, but you don't associate your birthday with your ex. I'm sure you went on lots of dinner dates, but eating out isn't forever tainted by the memory of your ex. It might be helpful to just insist to yourself that this event has nothing to do with your first wedding.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2012

Wanted to add - you shouldn't feel obligated to invite any naysayers to your event. Great aunt Maude thinks your ex was the greatest thing to happen to you? Cross her off the guest list. This could get complicated if it's not Maude but your mother. But really - anyone coming should be ecstatic for the two if you.

As for those that would patronize you in the planning, a firm but warm "I've got it covered, but thanks" might work to shut them up. Also, keep the stresses of planning from anyone that would have a patronizing reaction.
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:31 AM on October 20, 2012

A little history of weddings:

Long ago, when there was less wealth in the world and girls were highly likely to actually be virgins on the wedding night, the European tradition was that a bride wore her best party dress. No one could afford a fancy one use gown and there was no need to symbolically suggest virginity with a white dress due to, you know, actual virginity. The white dress is a symbolic replacement for actual virginity. It came into vogue after actual virginity on the wedding night went out of vogue.

So I am not crazy about the tendency to do off-white or cream colored gowns the second time around. I don't see why you are any less deserving of a symbolic virginity/pristineness than any other woman. You know, "All brides are beautiful" and all that. And I think you have an awesome opportunity to put down some personal baggage. Your betrothed's genuine love of weddings and devotion to you can go a long way towards washing you clean of the stigma you feel.

Congratulations and best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2012

I've done a second wedding, as did my husband. It's a little different for us as neither of us had the Big Wedding wedding the first time around. I understand why you might feel awkward about it, but you are not obliged to put yourself down in any way because it is your second wedding. Really, you have nothing to be ashamed about.

For our wedding we did the whole ceremony, reception, pre-wedding festivities, etc. But the most significant thing we did was we engaged in a sort of pre-marital counseling with our minister. It was really more like couple's counseling than the typical sort of church-y marriage prep class, and it was an opportunity for us to really look within and talk about our hopes, fears, expectations, stresses, successes, etc etc. We then incorporated some of those discussions into our ceremony. So by the time our wedding came around, it was really about symbolizing the transition from dating-couple to married-couple. And our friends and family were there to celebrate that transition, and our future, with us. The process of counseling allowed both of us to let go of our baggage related to the first marriages.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't believe a wedding is a prize to be collected, and can only be collected once. And I'm a modest person who cringes as a lot of the big wedding fancy stuff - but that doesn't mean that these things don't have meaning.

If you were married at 21 ... yeah, I think it's safe to assume that your friends and family will be pretty understanding. I think the fact that you are posting this question at all indicates that you're not some present-hoarding troll who wants a fresh fancy party in her honor every year. Anyone who insinuates that to you is a jerk (at least to that extent) and isn't really looking at you as who you are. You are not required to win them over or justify yourself.

And for the details of having gone through some of the stuff before -- no matter what we do in life, there is always unasked-for advice. Just treat it like you would any other thing - take what's helpful and ignore the rest.

(by the way: Congratulations!!!)
posted by stowaway at 10:45 AM on October 20, 2012

This is probably lame advice, so sorry in advance, but are you a fan of Sex and the City? If so, re-watch the episode(s) where Charlotte was having the same feelings about her second wedding. I thought her feelings and the outcome were pretty well represented (for a ridiculous over-the-top TV show, anyway).
posted by gatorae at 10:55 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Focus on the fact that, this time, you're marrying someone who's an incredible fit and that your friends, family, and likely your church will all be celebrating your wonderful find. The wedding needs to be about that -- the fact that you are going to be moving on from something that didn't work down a path that leads to happiness. And honestly? Forgive yourself. So you got married at 21 and that marriage didn't work out. It happens. It happens to Catholic couples more than you probably think. There's no shame to be had for it. It's more shameful to stay in a marriage that sucks. It really is.

You could even do something symbolic, like lock away the wedding photos from your first wedding and assert to everyone that this wedding is THE Wedding not The Second Wedding because really, only jerks would make a big deal over the fact that you've been married before. Don't invite people who would do that to you, or to your soon-to-be hubbie. Just focus on the fact that you are now marrying the right person.

Congratulations and may you have a marriage full of happiness, kindness, respect, and joy.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had a second wedding. I came to say much the same that's already been said, and that you pointed out in your comment you aren't looking for. So I'll point you to offbeatbride.com and thirtysomethingbride.com for collections of stories with a higher than average (higher than on places like The Knot, anyway) number of second brides. You might get some perspective on how to think of a second wedding in terms that are useful to you. You can look at past comments I've made about my wedding if you're interested in details of my 40-person wedding/party combo, in which I wore a cocktail dress and we were married by a friend ordained on the internet.

Also, I've been to a number of lovely second weddings in addition to my own and know many people married more than once. I've never heard of any of these weddings featuring "jokes" about it sticking this time. I hope for you that you're surrounded by loving people who are much more sensitive and on the ball than that.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:19 AM on October 20, 2012

Oh, gatorae - that would be worth watching again, thanks :) I forgot about that storyline with Charlotte.
posted by lizbunny at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2012

I married in a big traditional wedding at 22 and remarried at 32. I was raised Southern and had big issues with the idea of a second (big) wedding, so I understand your concerns. (I also watched a friend have a giant second wedding four months before mine, which left me even more concerned.) Even though my social circle had changed completely, it still felt very very wrong.

Things I did to make myself okay with it:
- Remembered I had had a wedding to deal with my parents' social obligations (and my husband's sisters had had their big weddings for his parents) so the guest list was composed of our friends and not our parents'.
- Treated it as a big party weekend. We threw a shindig at our house the night before after the rehearsal, with excited friends to staff it; the friends all went out while we were getting ready for the wedding; after the reception they had an afterparty (we missed it); other friends arranged brunch for Sunday, which we attended.
- Chose a non-church venue (bed & breakfast) for the wedding and reception. In our case we also chose a judge to officiate, but we're both atheists, so a religious celebrant was neither needed nor even wanted.
- Chose an off-white dress with no veil in a very different style to my virginal white 22-year-old dress. Had I had all the options there are now, I might not have gone with the 20s style dress I went with, but something in a bright color.
- Limited honor attendants; he had one and I had one and the rest were common friends who served as ushers.
- Did not register for gifts. My husband and I had been living together for some time and had an established household. We passed around the word that the only gift we wanted was our guests' presence and while we did receive some gifts, they were mostly mementos that carry a great deal of emotional significance rather than the generic registry stuff.
- Requested that our friends not throw showers for the same reason. My bridesman threw a tea in my honor, and my husband's woman of honor and friends took him out to dinner.
- Allowed ourselves a lot of fun touches that wouldn't have necessarily fit in a big industrial wedding like marrying on April 1, and using a special getaway car driven by a friend of my husband's. And the men wore kilts. (This is the kind of thing you get on Offbeat Bride, I think.)

Someone did allude to the fact that it was my second wedding during the proceedings. Nobody paid any attention to it and they won't if someone says it at your wedding, either. Congratulations and the best of luck in planning a wedding that makes you happy.
posted by immlass at 11:25 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know anyone, let alone anyone still in prime 1st wedding age-range who have done a second wedding.

My best friend went through this very thing. We had long talks about this. It was her now husband's first wedding and he wanted the whole thing - dress, church, vicar, banns in the village, reception, full roast hog, but I don't recall dancing.

She was all like "I've been through this before, right down the full dress, but now I have a six year old ring bearer, do I want to do this again".

They compromised on simplifying the festivities and the dance, reception, drinks bit but focused on what was important to him - the ceremony, the church, the formal dressing up in traditional wedding attire (pinstripes and cutaway tailcoats with tophats) and ultimately, she felt that it was for his special day, why should her feelings take that away from him?
posted by infini at 11:29 AM on October 20, 2012

Thanks immlass, this is the sort of thing I'm experiencing.
posted by lizbunny at 11:34 AM on October 20, 2012

My first marriage: I was young (early 20s). We had a big-deal wedding thing because my mother insisted. I had very little part in the whole thing - she planned it, she paid for it. She did a good job: it wasn't your typical "church --> pictures --> reception hall --> sit-down dinner --> do the electric slide" experience whatsoever, which I absolutely appreciated. I wasn't into it, any of it, except the excuse to hang out with my friends.

My second marriage, three years later: circumstances dictated that we had to get married fast; we were flat broke; we could only have a handful of family present. He hadn't been married before but he didn't care that we didn't have any chance to make a big deal out of it. But I cared, and I still care, over a decade later. I care enough that I keep daydream-planning we'll throw a party and renew our vows for our 15th or 20th anniversary, just so we can get a slice of that experience.

My mother insisted on An Event the first time because "it's not just about you, it's for your family too". I don't care at all about that the second time I missed out on picking a dress or froofing up a cake/invites/flowers/venue/pictures or making a display. What I miss is the special, once-in-a-lifetime excuse to throw a big fun party and invite everyone we love. I really, really do not care about anything else surrounding that - all I care about is good food, an open bar, great music, and my favorite people celebrating with us.

So I would say, you can have a traditional wedding that doesn't look like the wedding you had the first time. Don't feel bad or embarrassed about making an event because the memories are so important - anyone who loves you just wants the chance to celebrate with you. On preview, I love immlass's answer.
posted by flex at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look at it this way, you now have a chance to change your memory of weddings in your mind. In the future, the first thing that will pop into your head when you hear "wedding" is your awesome wedding to Mr. Bunny. Doesn't that sound nice?

That said, I don't think you should necessarily have a big ol' bash of a wedding. It's great that he likes weddings, but both of you are getting married and that means it has to be something that you are both happy with (and happy with planning). Perhaps he can't do the planning, but he should be involved with every step of it. Once he figures out how much hassle a huge wedding can be, he might decide that it's not all important.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Married the first time at 26, remarried at 36. The first one was held in the city where I grew up, and was heavily directed at the friends of my parents, who planned and paid for it. For the second, I was perfectly prepared to go to City Hall or do something super simple the second time around, but it was a first wedding for my husband, and he had a lot of ideas about things he wanted. And he wanted a big wedding, and a big reception. And I didn't want to deprive him of that, so on a lot of things I just rolled with what he wanted to do. The flipside of that is that I was pretty relaxed through the whole thing, because I wasn't stressing about having a *perfect* wedding.

I approached it as thinking about throwing a really great party for our friends and family. So I planned it in that mindset. My husband's brother is friends with a great band, so we got them for the reception. We made sure the food was good and the bar was open. We invited all of our friends. It was a great party, and afterwards lots of people told us it was the most fun they'd had at a wedding. And we agreed.

We each had established households, and had to purge a bunch of stuff when we moved in together, so we did not register for gifts. We did have a couple of charities to suggest when people said they wanted to get us something, and most people honored that. We also asked for no showers beforehand, for the same reason.

One of the things he really wanted to do was have his brothers and his best college friends in the wedding party. I really didn't want to have four attendants also, it would have made things so huge, and I honestly view being asked to be a bridesmaid really quite a large imposition, especially since I would be asking people to do it twice for me. So we had two groomsmen for each bridesmaid, one on each arm, and that worked out fine. For the bridesmaid dresses I found a collection that has many many different styles in the same fabric. I picked out two or three swatches I liked, sent them to my two bridesmaids for them to make the final color choice, and then let them choose the style of dress they wanted to wear. Because their dresses were in the same color and fabric they looked coordinated but they each got to pick out the style they are most comfortable in. I really wanted them to get something they might actually wear again, you know? Both of those things tempered the overall formality of the event too.

Looking back seven years later, I am really glad we did things that way. The quiet ceremony at City Hall would have been fine too, but we have great memories from throwing that really awesome party, and I wouldn't change that for the world.
posted by ambrosia at 12:30 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It takes a while to plan a wedding. Right now you only have memories of planning a wedding with That Guy. Step up and spend time with This Guy to help create new memories. Just agreeing to do the Big Wedding will get you there.

Instead of withdrawing, try to draw the experience out. Make this about really noticing him and choosing those small details that are about the two of you. Avoid that stereoptype where the groom is replaceable and it's the Bride's Big Day. Have a whole list of snappy retorts that your first marriage was practice, and if it's anything like sex, of course the second time is going to be better. So if anyone is gauche enough to mention it, you're on autopilot and don't even register the rudeness.

I think it's perfectly natural to say "I've done this, and weddings are expensive and stupid and I don't want to." but it's equally natural to say "I was willing to spend all that effort on a guy who barely registers to me, of course I'd do it again for the man I love". Try to feed that second voice instead.
posted by politikitty at 2:18 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had the traditional small-town church wedding at 21... and all of the stress of trying to make it PERFECT. My second wedding was five years later, and while I would have been happy with a quick trip to the courthouse, my husband's mom really wanted a ceremony. We found a charming old chapel in the historic part of town, invited ~30 people (mostly family members), kept the on-site reception light and small... and it was beautiful. The chapel's gardens were full of bright, blooming flowers (April in TX!), so the pictures were taken there. It was wonderful to not feel stressed about creating the perfect setting for The Most Important Day of Our Lives. I knew better by then. ;) It's not the flowers nor the cake that count-- it's the joy, the love, the swell of emotions. We truly approached it as a celebration and as a way to include our families in the happiness of the day.

We didn't do any showers or registries, nor did we allow our parents to pitch in on the cost. That was especially important to me, considering that my parents paid for my first wedding. My second wedding just had...no pressure. No preconceived notions of what a wedding "should" be, nor any delusions of a magazine-perfect theme. Just US. Just a big celebration. My only regret is that we didn't have more friends there!

If you have people giving you advice like you're a newbie, just smile and thank them. Keep in mind they are offering it more for themselves than for you-- so they can feel helpful and wise. Congratulations, and I hope this wedding replaces any uncomfortable wedding memories than linger in your mind!
posted by ebee at 4:04 PM on October 20, 2012

I'm probably about to say something really obvious, but:

If this is your fiancé's first marriage, and will hopefully be his last, then you may want to see it as something that you are doing for him. His big, once in a lifetime event.

He loves weddings. This is his first/only wedding of his own. Try to keep that in mind.

It may be easier for you to stomach all of this if you mental reframe it as A Thing You Are Doing Mostly For The Man You Love.
posted by Shouraku at 4:48 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing that my friend encountered: you should really address the finances with each other and with your families way ahead of time. You mention that you feel a bit weird asking for help when your other sisters haven't been married yet. Are you hoping for financial support? Can your parents swing that, with no resentment? Do they want to pay for it? Or do you just mean emotional support? Can you lean on friends for more of that, this time around?

Because weddings are great, but they can represent a significant amount of effort for families, and you probably want to be clear with yourself, each other, and families about what kinds of roles might happen this year. Are you hoping to register since there are mostly new people in the crowd?

The benefit to paying for it yourself is that you have much much more control this time. Which means: it's really really YOUR party -- as in, you and your new husband. Own it from the beginning. Talk to each other about what you both really really want, and what can be changed from the standard wedding, and what isn't that important to either of you. That way you won't assume that he really cares about a cake AND dancing, when really he could give two figs about the cake. Focus on the important things for each person, and don't do everything else that you think is expected.
posted by barnone at 5:04 PM on October 20, 2012

Hi there! Welcome to my world.

When my husband and I got married last year (please see my profile for several related questions, including my asking of a similar question in 2010 and my well-documented freakoutery on the day itself) it was a second wedding for both. He had had a very low-key courthouse wedding the first time, which they had turned into a "spy" wedding. So he definitely had memories, but this was the first time he'd had a real Ceremony, so I tried to make it special for him.

It can be hard, I know. You will never leave regret out of it entirely, no matter what happens -- how much you love your fiancé, how "settled" you are with your divorce and its aftermath. "Could have/should have" are as dangerous here as they are on This Old House: expensive and crazy-making, but impossible to avoid.

Ultimately, I think this is about facing things head-on and owning up to your life. But the interesting part is that this is probably a much bigger deal for you than it is for other people. Sure, some people may look at you a little; my dad once got into a fuss with me (non-wedding-related) for my use of the term "ex" because apparently that implied that I had Gone Through Something, and nobody needs to know about that when I am just talking about my cell phone :P

But you DID go through something! And you know what? You are a better and more complete person for it. And here is the most important part: if you are anything like me/us, the gratitude you feel every day for being with someone you love, making plans for a future that really does look bright, is something you only feel because you know what it's like to Be In The Shit. And that gratitude, in turn, will make this relationship so much more fulfilling. It's a fact that any number of therapists and pastors will tell you.

I was pleasantly surprised at the love people expressed for us. There weren't a ton of people who had been to my first wedding who came to the actual ceremony, but most of my family came to the potluck we held the next weekend (different state, better logistics -- which was how I planned it). Some of them made the kinds of statements I never would have expected: my notoriously blunt and judgmental British aunt, for example, telling me how happy we looked, and how wonderful my husband is. And then they gave us presents, which we totally did not need but very much appreciated. When I said something to them about how happy I was that they had made it over, they shrugged their shoulders and said, "Well, of course we did!"

You basically need to feel what you want to feel: the pain and regret, but also the wonder of new beginnings a celebrating who you are NOW. Don't hide or suppress these feelings; it'll only make things more complicated.

Go ahead and make jokes, even if some people cringe; my go-to was "the ceremony so nice I did it twice".

Just feel and feel and FEEL. Stand up there and stroke your thumb on his fingers as you say your vows so you can really be present. Make the colors of your dress and flowers as pure or as brilliant as you want. WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT, as long as it reflects the way you feel. I think white is still perfectly fine for a second wedding, although I'd skip a veil. But I went with red, because RED IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE, RICK, and I loved how it reflected the deep and brilliant way I loved this unbelievable man who gave me a life I could never have dreamed about.

Seriously, I'm getting a little verklempt here.

And I still had some regrets, like the fact that at this wedding I was 60 pounds fatter and if I had hated the way my arms looked then, WOW did I hate 'em now. But you know what? We had an amazing photographer, who took amazing engagement photos that really made us feel good about ourselves, and the wedding photos I had dreaded became so precious to me. I had been so freaked out that day, and in the days to follow, but the time I'd spent hoisted into that fancy red gown with those unbelievable shoes was nothing short of magical.

Just let yourself be surprised. It'll be a wonderful, scary, happy, AMAZING time.

Feel free to MeMail me and vent any, any time.
posted by Madamina at 6:44 PM on October 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

My mom has been married three times (and husbands #2 and #3 had both been married before). Each time was a fairly small, but "real" wedding. Nobody was making rude comments or implying she shouldn't have a wedding for a subsequent marriage. You hear that a wedding day is all about the bride but for most people it's just an excuse for a family reunion, and a more enjoyable one than a funeral.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:17 PM on October 21, 2012

Thanks, everyone. You've all given me a good shift in perspective. That and the excitement of the news has died down, we've gotten a date picked and some initial plans made... yeah this is going to be a huge wedding, probably end up close to 200 at the dance - he's inviting everyone. So I'm going to hand off a lot of planning to him (pretty much everything beyond decor and dresses, and these will be sorted out by committee; myself, my mom and my sisters). I feel way less stressed already.
posted by lizbunny at 5:41 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Awkward + shy + no date   |   Can a second accident affect a yet-to-be-settled... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.