There are a few major phases in life. After University, everyone’s expected milestones start to come in waves. The first wave is of weddings. Juggling first jobs and questionable incomes gets interspersed with celebrating your friends’ partnerships. The next wave is first babies, and suddenly wedding invites have been replaced with baby showers and googling how to change a nappy so you can be a suitable babysitter from time to time. But then, the unexpected waves start. The first funeral…. The first divorce.
I guess “unexpected” isn’t totally fair – loss is inevitable and as far as marriage goes, statistics are kind of against us. But it doesn’t make the news any easier to swallow. For a while there might be a bit of a lull as people just go about the ups and downs of their lives. But then there’s another wave… the wave of second weddings.
Having been burned once, not everyone will be bold enough to try again. Or they’ll be overly bold and try again too often. Whatever the case, when you get that invitation to a second wedding, the mood surrounding it is certainly different. As a guest, it’s important that you avoid certain faux pas and pitfalls that might take away from the occasion. Afterall, people learn from their mistakes, and if you feel ready to get married again, it may well be on a much sturdier foundation than that of your first. Either way, here are a few bits of advice…
Before the wedding, Do Not:
Ask questions like “Are you sure?”, “Why would you want to do this again?”, “Isn’t this too fast?” or anything along those lines. Even if these questions arise from a place of care and concern, once a couple has crossed that line, i.e. formal engagement and wedding announcement, it is not anyone’s place to try to talk them out of it. And it certainly won’t feel good for the bride or groom to think their guests are all sitting there questioning and doubting whether or not this is a good idea. Just because it’s a second wedding, doesn’t mean they won’t look at it as the best day of their lives and the start of something new. Just be helpful and happy for them, and if that’s too much to ask, then just be silent.
At the wedding, Do Not:
Compare. It might be difficult to resist, especially if there’s a big budget or style discrepancy, but don’t spend the reception discussing how much better, or worse, the first wedding was. Whether it’s the dress, the venue, the food, the music, just don’t point out stark differences. If anything, the whole point is a fresh start, the whole point is something different, since plan A clearly didn’t work out, and above all – we all know how expensive weddings are. It’s tough enough to afford one wedding, let alone two, and it would be a great shame if after all that expense and effort, all people noticed was how it didn’t live up to the first time around.
On the topic of comparisons, do not compare the new partners to the old and for the love of God, don’t discuss the ex at the wedding. This is a celebration with someone else, of moving on and building a new life, not looking back on the old one. Even if you liked the ex better and have reservations about their new spouse, it’s not an appropriate topic of discussion, let alone at the wedding! And don’t forget, unless (and this is not likely) both parties are previously divorced, for one of them, this IS the first time, this IS the one and only wedding they’ll have and happiest day of their lives, so their experience shouldn’t be sullied by whispers, doubt or judgement based on a previous relationship that they had nothing to do with (one hopes…).
And as for the couple, what useful tidbits can we offer?
The main thing to consider, once again, is the expense. But not just yours this time. Bottom line is, every bride and groom have the option of just going to the courthouse and getting it over with. It’s a conscious decision to spend as much, or as little, on your wedding as you want. But as for the guests, taking time out of their lives, buying gifts, booking travel and accommodation amounts to a lot – and they’ve already done this for you before. Coupled with, you’re now older and wiser, with more responsibilities. Whether it’s work or kids or coming from another country or any other obligations, it’s a big ask for someone to re-celebrate your union. So keeping it local, with easy transport and facilities nearby will make it much more likely for people to RSVP ‘yes’ for a second time.
You may well want to have the usual shindigs in the run up, like a bachelor party or a rehearsal dinner – which is fair enough – if all your memories of the previous time were marred by the dissolution of your first marriage, you may well want new memories that only bring forth joy. But you’ve done this all before, and it’s that much more time and expense for everyone involved. It might be an idea to skip these things this time around or just keep the numbers really small, to an intimate group of friends. Or don’t call it a hen party, with the usual trimmings – do a chill spa day or lovely dinner. No sashes or naked butlers or penis straws.
Same goes with the wedding itself – it’s easy to fall into the temptation of inviting as many people as possible when you get married, but on your second time, maybe just focus on inviting the people that really know you best and support you. It’s less mouths to feed and fewer opinions to worry about.
Invest all those extra pennies into a killer honeymoon or doing up your home. Having splashed out on a big wedding already, no doubt your other areas of interest had to take a backseat for a while. So embrace a lower key, intimate wedding and max out your savings on amazing holidays and experiences that’ll be sure to get your new match off to a roaring start.
Or… life’s short! Throw out all of the above and live your life the way you want! Get a one of a kind Versace gown, cirque du soleil performers, book a venue in the Philippines! And with another wedding to learn from, couple and guests can all take notes for wedding no.3!