The ghost of weddings past: Planning a second wedding when you’ve already been a bride

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Ghost bride
There is a lot of advice out there for divorced folks where both partners are divorcees, or the groom has been divorced, or for blending families with kids in the wedding.

However, I'm having a difficult time finding advice for offbeat couples where the bride has been married before, and is pretty low key, but the groom is a artsy romantic type who has never been wed before. I want to make sure that the wedding meets all his hopes and dreams since the “big day” is really for him.

Sending this out into the cosmos to see if anyone's been in my boat with some great experience-based advice!?

Hey, that's me! I'm engaged to a guy who's never been married before, while I already did the Big Dream Wedding thing. I've been The Bride. And this time around it's different in a lot of key ways…

You may want it be all about the other person

It's actually a huge deal for Mike, his friends, and especially his family that he is getting married. (Many a “they said it couldn't be done” joke has been made.) This time around it's really feels like it's all about the groom. Which is great, because he's been wanting to get married for so long, has had dream wedding plans in mind, and now he gets to live them out. It also means that there's no frustrated groom situation, and people actually listen to him more than I've seen people listen to grooms in the past.

I'm more than happy about all of that. I want him to get his spotlight. I want him to be celebrated. He deserves it. I enjoy kicking back and watching him get showered with attention, get speeches made about him, and attend parties thrown by his friends for us.

But it's still “all about the bride”

As much as you think, “eh, I've already been married so no one's going to care about me…” You're wrong. That idea is so hardwired and ingrained in our cultural unconscious that it's hard to shake. I'm constantly surprised at how much people still fuss over me, tell me that it's still really MY Big Day, and that, ultimately, decisions should come down to me, because it's “all about the bride.” The groom's own mother even says it to me — it's adorable and hilarious!

I went into wedding planning thinking that I'd just take a back seat and let Mike steer this vehicle. But society wouldn't let that happen.

And that's okay

Now, as even a surprise to myself, I'm actually MORE involved in planning this second wedding. And you know what, I kind of really like it. I'm glad that the “all about the bride” culture has forced me to play a bigger role.

If you're the shy type, who really doesn't want a fuss to be made over you, then please try to downplay your role as much as possible. But, if you're like me, and you love you some attention, then don't hide your light just because you feel weird, or guilty, or like you're somehow dinged up and damaged by your Scarlet Letter B.

Because, as I start to settle in, and get more comfortable being Bride Again, I realize that my guilt (which I'll get into later) was part of why I wanted to take a backseat in the first place.

Second weddings mean the use of hindsight

It's actually really great to be able to go into wedding planning with a greater understanding of what weddings actually entail. I can try to avoid the mistake that I previously made, and plan for an even better, smoother time. I know things like… Wedding photography is super important to me. I should pick my wedding party a lot more carefully. I don't enjoy going from table to table saying hi, and that I'd rather try something a little different. My weird cousin, if invited, will show up and get way too drunk and cry about her bad relationship. And I know that no matter what happens, we're going to be so excited to be married.

But there's also the guilt…

Having that helpful past wedding knowledge is not all unicorns and mistake-avoidance, there's also The Ghost of Weddings Past…

Every time I bring up my last wedding, I feel bad. “Sorry to keep bringing this up, but at my first wedding…” Maybe it's just me projecting, but if we're in front of other people when this happens, it feels like it gets awkward.

It's also awkward when guests assume my last name is the same as parents. Oops, nope, “Mr Finley” is my ex-husband's father.

It's also awkward when a vender says, “Well, you only get married once!” And I respond with, “To Mike, at least!”

Talk it out

I'm sure we all have realized by now that communications is EVERYTHING in a relationship. And that's the same for wedding planning as well.

When we were first dating, and I was actually going through my divorce process, I asked Mike if he felt weird about dating a divorcé. His response was, “Not at all. In fact, I like that it shows that you can be in a committed relationship.” Which was a great way to think about it. So, going into planning a wedding, I also checked in to make sure that he wasn't feeling weird or bad about this being my second wedding. “Not at all,” was his response again. He just had one request: That this wedding be very different from my first wedding. Which it will be. (Yay for all the options that Offbeat Bride has to offer!)

Embrace it all

How lucky are we second-timers that we've found such great love twice, or more, in our lifetime!? So… planning a wedding when you've already been The Bride means some shit is different, and awkward at times. But it almost means the important shit is still the same: Your love. Your commitment. The excitement of future plans. The starting of your own family unit.

Focus on that stuff. Live your truth about how much you want to be involved. Never stop communicating. And have a great fucking time at your second wedding!

What are your pieces of advice for planning a second wedding when you've already been a bride?

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Comments on The ghost of weddings past: Planning a second wedding when you’ve already been a bride

  1. Planning my second wedding was so much better than planning my first! I wasn’t encumbered by any of the traditional “must have” wedding things, we only had one small disagreement with family on how things *needed* to happen, and we were able to plan a day that was perfectly us with so little drama and stress along the way.

    I had some experience with things I didn’t like from my first wedding, so I was able to avoid those mistakes again. We put more emphasis on creating a fun experience for our guests, finding a photographer we clicked with, and hiring a day of coordinator so everything went super smoothly.

    Immediately after my first wedding, there were a lot of regrets about how the day had gone. Immediately after this one, the response was “Well, that was perfect!”

  2. i’m widowed, not divorced, but this has been plaguing me hardcore as well. especially since me and mr. first-time-groom have already added a second child to the one i came into the relationship with. setting aside that guilt is hard, and weird. i’m working on it. thank you for the insight.

  3. I was a second-time bride. My husband, though, had been married twice (!) before. So, we had our own fun weirdness to deal with. Luckily, we’re also much older now (late 40s), so we really felt no need to have to toe the line with any societal expectations on what the wedding “should be.” It was really liberating to say “no, this is what we want” and not feel any guilt. We also worked to make sure that things at the wedding were what *he* wanted, not just me. He was also confident enough to tell me when he didn’t care about something (the color of the invitations, for example) so that I felt no guilt simply making those decisions. (Cupcake flavors? He had STRONG opinions on those.) Though there is always a little “ghosts of weddings past” feeling, we made sure to make our day about *us*

  4. I’m a second-time bride-to-be, and I’m struggling about what to do with the wedding party. I feel guilty about not having my former maid of honor involved, but, if I’m being honest, she was kind of crap the first time round. I love her to bits, but she made my first wedding more stressful. In saying that, I don’t want her to feel as though I’m leaving her out.

    Secondly, many members of my fiancé’s family don’t know about my first wedding. Between that relationship being a very black part of my history and members of his family being devout Catholics, bringing up the topic isn’t exactly on the cards. Although his parents and sister know, I’d hate for the guests to start, well, gossiping about my prior marriage.

    Any tips, offbeaters?

    • We skipped the wedding party all together, and it was glorious. It was a huge chunk of stress and drama, and planning, and herding cats that we just didn’t have to deal with. The main reaction we got was relief from our friends who had already been in too many weddings.

      We involved our people in other ways – we each had our closest friend give a toast. A close friend acted as our officiant. A couple we love witnessed for us. One managed all of the music while another was in charge of recording the ceremony. Several friends acted as “game ambassadors” to get people playing board games at the reception. Other friends helped with pre-wedding pampering and crafting. As far as I know, no one felt left out 🙂

    • I agree with Valerie: we also skipped the wedding party and it was SO nice. No fuss, no drama. Unless your fiance is really excited about having his brother and sister and best friend be in the wedding, see if you can skip it. Like Valerie said, there’s plenty of other ways to have friends and family be involved.

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