Second marriage + potential wedding planning = ???
September 6, 2018 4:16 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I want to marry one another. I have been married once before. We also want to have a baby in the next year. When/how/if best to have a wedding?

I was married before. My ex and I eloped and told people about it months after the fact - no wedding, no party, but we received some gifts from gracious family members who were happy for us.

Fast forward several years post-divorce. My current partner and I want to marry. I feel very strongly about wanting to have a ceremony and commit to her in front of our friends and families. My mom/some of the older fuddy-duddies in the etiquette world seem to believe that second marriages shouldn't be elaborately celebrated/celebrated at all (though my partner has never been married, and we will be two brides, so I'm not sure the extent to which any of the old fuddy-duddy etiquette even applies).

What's an appropriate level of celebration? Also, when is the best time to plan to do all of this, considering that I hope to get pregnant sometime this fall? I'm not completely averse to getting married at the courthouse and having a wedding after the baby is born (there's precedent for that in my family), but I also recognize that it may take a while for me to get pregnant, so I'm a little leery of planning a wedding and then showing up hugely pregnant and unable to have a glass of champagne at my own wedding. At the same time, many of my family members were dismayed when I had a courthouse wedding the first time, so I don't want to hurt their feelings a second time.

The baby-making timeline is a little more urgent than the wedding one, as my partner is older than I am and doesn't want to be old-old when our kids are in college. But at the same time, the current Supreme Court situation is making me want to get married sooner rather than later.
posted by coppermoss to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would really forget whatever it is your mom/ older folks think it is you should do, and focus on what you both want. The appropriate level of celebration is, again, what you two want.

Having said that, my boyfriend and I are in a similar situation - I've been married before, we have a son together, and we're currently debating the wisdom of a ceremony given that our son is... well, expensive. Household costs increase exponentially once you have a baby, so you'd probably want to consider the timing of a wedding against the expenses involved in at least the first two years of a child's life as you plan your ceremony.
posted by Everydayville at 4:26 PM on September 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

It sounds like the wedding should be as soon as you and your fiance can plan it. That way you can get to pregnancy as soon as possible without worrying about how you'll feel at your wedding.

What kind of wedding and how fancy it is is really up to the two of you. It sounds like it's important to you to invite your friends and family, so think about a venue that could fit them all (make a list of people first, then look at what spaces could fit). If you don't really care whether you get married at the courthouse or at a church, see if your fiance cares. If she doesn't, do whatever seems simplest. You could see if a judge (or retired judge) could marry you at a reception hall or park, if that's the level of simple with family you're going for.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:36 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh my gosh, the “appropriate” level of celebration is exactly as much as you and your beloved are up for, emotionally and logistically! This is your first lesson in kicking everyone else out of your planning process.

I do think there are legitimate reasons for a US same-sex couple who know they intend to be wed to head to the courthouse sooner rather than waiting until after a baby to get the legalities done — in addition to the political atmosphere, it will make health insurance and other baby-related things easier. And if you are cool with “courthouse first, family and friends ceremony later,” I can speak for the sweetness of having one’s own toddler at one’s wedding. IMO, muuuuch more fun than having the party while heavily pregnant. (Our son was 18 months, on great behavior throughout and of course there were tons of people who wanted to hold/distract a baby in a vest and button-down.)
posted by LadyInWaiting at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wonder if you would satisfy the "not celebrating elaborately" inclination of your mom if you decided to plan and have your wedding in a very short time period? Like in October or early November? That way it might "seem" less elaborate, but you can do it however you like.

Maybe start babymaking around the same time, or just put that off until November?

I just think once you have a baby, the planning of a wedding feels very very secondary. And if it takes longer to do than you expect, you might be pushing your wedding farther down the road than you like.

Best Wishes!
posted by vunder at 4:40 PM on September 6, 2018

You should do it 60 days from now. Enough time to plan, get clothes, find a location to do the service and to celebrate, locate a celebrant, and for guests to make travel plans. Not enough time to plan an extravaganza, but it sounds like you want to be surrounded by your loved ones and have a party, not throw an extravaganza. (Nobody really remembers the flowers and decorations anyway -- find a pretty place, which could include a park or a farm or a UU church or a hotel or a historic home or a venue or your BFF's gorgeous backyard, so you don't have to gild the lily, and get some good food, and people will remember it as a super-solid wedding.)

The appropriate level of celebration is "raise the roof." It's a wedding! (But that means a lot of fun with the people you love! Not a lot of expense necessarily.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:01 PM on September 6, 2018 [11 favorites]

The timing and appropriate level of anything for a wedding is the level the people getting married want to plan and pay for.

When other people are getting married a second time, they can decide how big a deal to make their own celebrations.

They don’t get to plan your wedding.

Unless they’re paying. But it sounds like you and your bride will be paying for your own wedding.
posted by bilabial at 5:29 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just went to a friend's beautiful, festive wedding and reception. It wasn't black tie-fancy, but everyone dressed up and she wore a white wedding dress she'd had made for her. There were formal toasts, .a live quartet, and delicious catered food. It was a very joyful celebration. And it was the second wedding, for both of them. The point: THIS is their marriage, this feels like the thing they've been working towards through all the years of exes and single times. So it was celebrated that way. The fact that it was a second marriage made the wedding even more special, if anything! Congratulations!
posted by nantucket at 7:54 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

What's an appropriate level of celebration?
However fucking much you want (and can afford/plan/do.) When do you think you can reasonable have the wedding you want? Sooner? Or later? If you can do it sooner, then go for it. You could also invite family to a courthouse ceremony.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:12 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

My experience in this is limited to my relatives and my husband's. The only second-wedding gripes I've heard have been about the sort of hoopla that costs the guests money. Like, if they already went to someone's engagement party, a couple of showers, and wedding. And those complaints came from only a couple of people.

Think about the people you'll be inviting. The actual, individual persons. I think you'll realize that almost all of them will be happy to celebrate with you and for you. The few that you have doubts about are probably chronic complainers or people whose bitchiness comes out around weddings.

Yeah, there used to be a rule about a bride's second wedding being super low-key with few guests...almost as if it there were some shame attached. But that was a long time ago, when second marriages were way less common than they are now. Your mother is concerned that people will say negative things...but you just can't stop certain people from doing that.
posted by wryly at 8:43 PM on September 6, 2018

dude it's your fiancee's first (and hopefully only) wedding, isn't it? Don't let your mother piss in her wheaties. (And anyway, it isn't like your friends and family had to fly to Jamaica or otherwise splash out on you when you got married the first time. So there really is no applicability to the rule your mother is citing.) As someone who married a person who'd been married before, I would not have taken it at all kindly if anyone had suggested that my wedding needed to be played down because it was my spouse's second round.

The only considerations are what your budget is and what feels right as a celebration of your marriage, taking into account that you might not want to break the bank if you're saving up for, say, one of you staying home with baby, or having to pay a chunk of hospital bills or whatever.

Seems to me ideal to get married first, then get pregnant, so all insurance, etc will be easier to have in order.

You can pull together a lovely party in 6 weeks if it's not huge. Fall airfares are relatively inexpensive if people need to fly in. Party venue availability will be greater if you can swing anything other than a Saturday night.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:55 PM on September 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Congratulations to you and your soon to be wife! The second wedding thing seems like some misogynist shame holdover, it's a cultural value that belongs in the garbage. Doubly so because this is a queer wedding, it's not okay for these older people to be telling you that your marriage to a woman is lesser and that it's tacky to celebrate it. This isn't like you're on your fifth destination wedding and you're sending everyone you know a fifth expensive registry, come on. If your mom or any other older people try to shame you for wanting to celebrate your marriage, be brief but shut that shit down: tell them that it's your fiancee's first wedding, her first time as a bride, and don't they want her to have that special day?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:10 AM on September 7, 2018

I had a wonderful second wedding (it was a second marriage for each of us). I wore a long white dress and I had four yards of tulle that I swept behind me instead of a train. (Beach wedding). I made the arch we were to be married under; we had our reception in an Italian American Hall (neither one of us was Italian, lol). We had about 80 people and a luau themed reception; we hired a real Hawaiian dancer to entertain our guests while we did photos before getting to the reception. All our tables were named after islands!

To heck with anything any naysayers say. It's not their knot they're tying.

It's your wedding. It's both of you coming together. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you'd like. Congratulations to both of you, and may you have a long and happy life together!!
posted by annieb at 4:42 PM on September 7, 2018


I’m getting married for the second time in November. We only just got engaged a couple of weeks ago but everything’s already organised and frankly I’d do it tomorrow if I could because I can’t wait for us to be married, except for the legal waiting times here. And we’re also trying for a baby and I’d like not to be pregnant on the day for lots of reasons. I had a big wedding last time but this time it’s going to be small, not because it’s “appropriate”, but it’s what we both want. We’re having the ceremony in a fancy hotel followed by cocktails and an afternoon tea with maximum 30 people and I will be wearing a wedding dress. It’s going to be beautiful and romantic and this time I don’t have to worry about inviting relatives and leaving people out and various wedding nonsense like table plans and favours and bridesmaids. I say do exactly what you both want, and if that’s a massive white wedding then totally go for it, but quick and small doesn’t have to mean it’s not a joyous celebration of a fantastic thing - you love each other! Have a wonderful time whatever way you want.
posted by billiebee at 4:46 PM on September 8, 2018

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