The Second Wedding (on a Budget)

What happens when you’ve been married before, divorced, and now are getting remarried? How do you plan a second wedding? A new marriage is a big step in a new direction, so you won’t really want this wedding to be exactly like your first (especially if the first was one of those quick Vegas or courthouse types). You might want a smaller ceremony, one that has only family in attendance, or you might want to just take this second chance to do something really different.

If you’re looking for a wedding that is smaller in scale and perhaps a bit more budget-friendly, these options can help you plan the perfect day to celebrate this new chapter.


First of all, plan to shop for your dress for several weeks or months to find the right one. You can check small stores and big chains alike, but stick to your budget! Check the sale racks for something that fits your style, and don’t be afraid to try something less traditional for your second ceremony. Nothing says you have to wear white. What about ivory? Maybe you want something that is totally different like blue? Many weddings these days have brides in various colors from off-white to pink. When you think of your wedding, imagine yourself in various colors before you decide. You also have to think of what length you would like. Tea length? Knee length? Or maybe you do want a dress that is completely traditional, with the formal train and all.

Brides aren’t the only ones who need something nice for the ceremony. What are your soon-to-be husband and groomsmen going to wear? Do you want them in traditional tuxedos or something more informal? A slightly offbeat outfit can definitely help cut your costs, and for your second marriage, odds are, fewer people will judge something different. However, renting a suit or tux is still a great way to cut your budget and make your men look spectacular.

Ceremony and Reception

Look around at places you’d like to have your wedding. If you’re a traditionalist and want to be married in a church, many will allow you use of the building for free if you are a member. If you are not, they might be negotiable if you make a donation. As for the officiant, most will perform your ceremony for a small fee, so don’t forget to count this in your costs.

Personally, I liked old houses, so I had my second wedding in an old Victorian manor. The fee was reasonable, and we were able to use one of the bedrooms to dress. I was able to walk down the massive staircase, as did my attendants, and we were married in the dining room overlooking the garden. It was a beautiful ceremony.

The reception venue and menu is where a lot of weddings rack up their costs. Don’t be afraid to look around and ask family members for any leads on cheap options. My husband is retired military personnel, so we opted to have our reception at the VFW hall, which was donated to us by the organization. A church might let you hold the ceremony and the reception at the location for a combination price as well, usually far cheaper than renting something else. Depending on the size of your wedding, keep in mind that you may be need a larger space.

When you’re not as fixated on having everything perfect, as most new brides are, you realize some things just plain don’t need to be fancy. We opted to do our own food, helped out by family, with the exception of the cake. We had sandwiches, punch, and champagne for the adults. The traditional wedding cake was an extra expense, true, but something I really wanted that wouldn’t have been the same without a professional decorator. That was probably the biggest expense we had for the wedding overall, besides the photography.

We DIYed the reception decorations ourselves as well. We found some inexpensive tablecloths, balloons in the wedding colors, and streamers, and the families helped decorate as a bit of a bonding experience.


Photos are not something you want to go without for a second wedding. Your memories are important; however, this doesn’t mean you have to go for the deluxe price tag. Price a few photographers and see what they will offer you. You can also check to see if a friend might be able to take pictures if they have a higher quality camera. I would suggest using a professional if no one has the right equipment, though. This is hopefully the last wedding you’ll have, and you don’t want the pictures screwed up. For a fun addition, consider giving several friends and family members a disposable camera and let them take candid photos. These will add some life to your album!

The theme here is to shop around for everything rather than sticking to the tried and true wedding staples because you think you have to. Start early in your planning, and make sure you get what you want. A second wedding can be the best thing you’ve ever done, but keep your perspective on the budget. You don’t want to put yourself in the poorhouse right out of the gate.

Good luck!

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