Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Second Wedding Etiquette?

Dear ESB,

I'm going to try and keep the background short. There aren't that many good deets anways...other than the punchline that my first marriage went straight to the shitter (we discovered we wanted different things, and he met someone else who was a better fit for him). Met at 17, married at 22...divorced at 24/25 (got messy and took a while). 

Lesson learned ladies: Just because you LOVE him, doesn't mean you should MARRY him. Do some soul searching and make sure you both know what you want, and you want the same things. Also, there's a lot of growing and learning to be done in your 20's. You both may not want the same things once you've had your fun with that decade (and you should have fun). Your love has got to last a while and you need the foundations to build a marriage on. 

So fast forward a few years to now. Met an amazing guy, marriage details are being discussed. He hasn't been married before and has a huge family. They love weddings. Not necessarily big weddings, but just weddings in general. I love weddings, too, but...I already had one. I already invited all my family, friends, and coworkers who traveled, brought gifts, took photos, hugged, kissed, and celebrated with me. I already wore the dress, got the cake, and danced. The idea of planning another makes me want to vomit. 

Don't get me wrong, I have never been more sure of our relationship and I'm excited to marry him, but the thought of doing that whole process again is dreadful. I almost feel guilty, like it isn't RIGHT to do that again. My ideal wedding would be a simple dress and a date at the court house. Small party to follow. He said he'd be on board with that, and understands, but I can tell he and his family were a little crushed. I want him to be happy, so, wedding it is. 

Now, how do I do this? Do I register for gifts again? Have another bridal shower? Bachelorette? If we register, should I only send the gift registry information to people who weren't at my first wedding? Is there such a thing as 'Second Wedding Etiquette'? 

And - how do I get more comfortable with this? 



1. You rule.

2. Yes, you should register. But it's bad etiquette to SEND registry info to anyone, whether it's your first wedding, fifth wedding, or fifty-seventh wedding.

Add a registry section to your wedding website with a note like: "It means so much to us that you're coming to the wedding. Please don't feel obligated to buy a gift." Or whatever. (I think everyone ought to include that note even if they've never been married before.)

You can also pass along the word via word-of-mouth that you really don't expect a gift from people who bought you one the first time around.

3. DUDE, YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED! I'm happy for you, and I don't even know you. Your friends + fam are UBER happy for you, I promise.

Tati Cotliar and Yuri Pleskun by Jason Kibbler for Twin #5 via Fashion Gone Rogue


  1. I definitely understand how you feel. I am about a month away from my second wedding. (My first was huge and very expensive and also when I was 21) FH has never been married, and having a wedding was super important to him. As much as I felt a little awkward going through all the wedding planning I knew how important it was for him and his family.

    About half way through I just said fuck it - and started enjoying the planning. I know how important it is to FH and his family, so I figured my slightly conservative extended family can just shove it. We registered at one place, I'm still wearing ivory and honestly, I couldn't be more excited!

    Good luck - and ESB is exactly right - the people that love you are going to be excited for you anyways!

  2. Congratulations!

    ESB is right. Register, but do not *send* registry stuff to anyone, ever. That's against etiquette rules for all weddings.

    I've been to a few second weddings, and really they're not much different from first weddings. A few extra people might not give you a gift (from what I hear), but most guests seem just as happy as at any other wedding. Your family and friends are probably thrilled that after all you've been through you've found someone amazing to share your life with.

    Tread lightly around wedding showers. Probably avoid having one with people who did that the first time around, since showers are kinda inherently gift grabby. (And you know that you aren't supposed to throw yourself a shower, right?)

    Bachelorette party is fine if you want one, but, again, don't make it something where everyone is supposed to spend a bajillion dollars on fancy dinners/manicures/strippers and buy you another gift.

  3. There are some nice discussions up on A Practical Wedding about second weddings & marriages – some of them might be helpful!
    Here's what I found after a quick search:
    Not etiquette related as such, but maybe will help with the being more comfortable part.
    And hey... congratulations! Have fun!!

  4. Oh my god. Did I sleep-write this? This is so me right now! Though the time line is a little different (1st marriage was met at 17, married at 19, divorced at 25/26).

    I didn't do a huge wedding the first time around, but I had most of my small family there and they had to travel to come since I grew up away from extended family. With my new fiance, we're thinking the wedding should be where he's from since his family is GIANT. So my family would have to travel again if they wanted to come. I'm pretty sure I'll have a lopsided wedding, but who cares.

    I guess my comment here is Thank You for this post and advice!!

  5. I completely agree with this advice, and am sure your family will be happy for you, not bitter that they have to buy you another gift (which, they don't anyway). The strictest of etiquette experts (I'm thinking Miss Manners here) would say that you should never mention gifts, even if it's to tell people not to feel obligated to get you any; of course, she also thinks that people shouldn't register at all, yet I know most people appreciate it.

    I wouldn't mention showers or bachelorette parties to anyone, though; if someone wants to throw you one, they will, and if not, oh well. I didn't want a shower when I got married because it felt too gift-grabby, so we had a pre-wedding brunch instead. The host (a family friend) asked people to give me their best advice and recipes, and I really enjoyed that.

  6. do everything full out. it may not be your first wedding but its going to be your last, so make it special! but don't have a bridal shower or a bachelorette party. its unnecessary even for first weddings and they both seem like me-me-me parties. just go all out for the actual wedding!

  7. if you and your future hubs are pretty well set with housewares, gadgets, and other registry norms, maybe you could suggest a donation to a charity that the two of you admire.

    i am always more excited to see this than the Shopping For Others Laundry List of Crap the Happy Couple Will Never Use. i will never, ever buy anyone a motherfucking Fry Daddy. ever. but if they ask me to donate to Smile Train, i will do so WITH PLEASURE !

    as far as the wedding goes, have fun and relish the attention ! as anon mentioned, it's not your first wedding but it will be your last ! :-) best wishes.

  8. So happy for you!! I get where you're coming from, but I say ditch the shame and your second-time-around heebie-jeebies. As many wise women have said before: it's not your second wedding, it's your last. Go forth and celebrate however you and the future Mr. see fit!
    If you don't want the showers and the registry and the parties, fine. But don't let any of the perceived etiquette issues stop you from enjoying yourselves.

  9. This is your first wedding to him so CELEBRATE!

  10. One of my grandmothers is on her 7th husband. And he's by far the coolest - he was an actual cowboy once upon a time. And his love for her is one of the sweetest things ever. Their wedding = way more awesome than her first. Go celebrate you and your wonderful guy already.

  11. I can totally identify with this post too! (mine was met at 20, married at 27 in a big, expensive wedding, divorced at 28-apparently he thought a husband should treat a wife WAY differently than a girlfriend). The super awkward part is that I met my now husband about a month before my divorce was final. I had such a hard time with it and went back and forth between feeling like I deserved to be happy as much as anyone else and guilty that I didn't "deserve" another wedding, if that makes sense. We knew that it was meant to be, but I felt like I should wait for other people to be OK with it. After 8 months of dating we got engaged, originally planned on the court house, but he (and his family) really wanted to celebrate with a wedding. So we did. And it was awesome. I still had to push aside some weird feelings, but I wore a wedding dress and we did it up. I did skip the bridal shower and bachelorette party though because it would have been mostly my friends who were involved in the first one. and we registered for a honeymoon instead of stuff. It so nice to see people being supportive because it is your first wedding to him and it means even more than the first since he is the one you will spend your life with.

    so, CONGRATS! you deserve an amazing wedding.

  12. Dude. Second weddings? Not a big deal. You might feel like people are going to judge you, but they're more likely going to be pleased that you're older, wiser, and trying again.

    Skip the courthouse, honour his entrance into your family (and yours into his) by having a sweet ceremony that makes you feel loved and special.

  13. As the sister of someone who had a second wedding after her first (young) marriage went tits-up, I can tell you this: your friends and family will be so happy that you are happy that they wont care about the fact that it's all been done before. And it hasn't, this wedding is different, it's about you and him and love and all things great. Enjoy it.

  14. p.s. I'm currently writing a thesis so if the above makes no sense, please forgive me.

  15. I love when esb gets all mushy.

  16. I so agree about the with ESB about the registry! We went back and forth about registering, because we bought a house together already (sure it's a Brokedown Palace) and outfitted it with our combined stuff, which already makes for a full house. Sure it's eclectic (nice word for nothing matches), but we don't really need anything. And there's no way we'd ask for money, as much as we could use that more so than anything else. I just think that's so tacky...and borderline rude! More than gifts we wanted people to make the trip out to our wedding and just celebrate with us. We came around to the whole registering thing though, because it turns out many people feel the need to come with gifts and in the hectic fast-paced disjointed world that many of us live in most people didn't want the headache and stress of trying to figure out the perfect gift! They just want to pick out items you want at prices they feel comfortable with. I get it. This is the note we added to the end of our 'gift registry' section on the website:
    "Also, please feel free to go off the tracks and vision quest a gift of your own design, and remember, a big hug on their wedding day will do the trick just as well."