What to Know About Planning a Second Wedding

A bride and groom holding their hands up after their wedding ceremony at the beach.

A second marriage is an exciting thing: you’ve found the person to accompany you on life’s journey after your first relationship was completed. As you begin the planning for your new marriage, it can be easy to second-guess: should your wedding be a low-key, calm gathering, or a big, bright production? A few close friends or hundreds of your extended family? We all have different expectations of both first and second weddings, and by thinking the following items through, you can make sure that your second wedding balances the things that matter to you with the expectations that others may have about your big day.

What Was Your First Wedding Like?

One major difference between first and second weddings is (rather obviously) that you’ve already had one. It could have been the social event of the season or a simple courthouse union, but your first experience of marriage is going to impact how you proceed with your second wedding. Consider what your learned about yourself. Do you dislike yourself in white dresses? Do you wish you had more people you loved present? A second wedding is your chance to do the parts of your first wedding “over” in the way you wish you could have. You bring an older, wiser attitude to this planning process, so choose to emphasize what will truly make the new you happiest.

How Does Your New Partner Feel About Weddings?

A bride and groom with their bridal party looking down into the camera lens.

Your partner may or may not have been married before, but his or her attitudes toward marriage and weddings matter a lot! If they have less-than-great associations with church weddings, think about whether a ceremony in nature or on a farm would work better and make them feel more comfortable. In particular, if there are wedding ceremonies, rituals, or decorations that remind you or your partner of their first wedding, do your best to avoid those. Try to make this new wedding a totally new experience, one where you forge memories that are unique to your union, rather than some form of repeat of a past wedding.

What Impact Does a Big-Budget Wedding Have?

Second weddings can go either way on the budget front: sometimes, by the second wedding, your finances have evened out such that a big, fairly expensive party is financially possible and a great way to celebrate. On the other hand, finalizing past relationships and the day-to-day expenses of life may mean that paying for a big wedding right now will put strain on your relationship. Most second weddings rely less or not at all on financial assistance from parents (though this is far from universal), so your wedding may need to be tailored to a very particular amount of money that you and your partner are prepared to spend. The factors are often different than first weddings, but they still matter: choose a wedding budget level that will help you look back on the day with fondness and excitement, not fear or concern about debt.

What Will Make More Positive Memories?

A couple getting married in a bohemian ceremony outside.

You know yourselves well by this point; consider what kinds of moments you tend to treasure most. Does an elopement with only a friend or two to witness make you feel giddy inside? What about a night of dancing and dinner with all your cousins and siblings, who don’t see each other often? “Try on” a few different styles of wedding and see what actually makes the most sense. The truth is that someone will question literally any structure of wedding that you choose, so try to select based on what makes you and your partner happiest and celebrates those who are joining your family the best.

What Fits Your Partnership Best?

In particular, you aren’t just choosing a wedding style based on your own individual tastes (though those matter!). You are laying the foundation for a long-term connection. Does your family really need to get to know his family? Do you two really need to just have a grand weekend in Vegas and get back to the office on Monday? Your partnership is in a unique place, no matter where you are, and more than ever, a second wedding should reflect what you as a couple need and want. Yes, it’s wise to note if people have expectations and needs from you, but after taking those things into account, you get to make the decisions about your wedding.

By asking these questions of yourself, you end up knowing exactly what you need to know about your second wedding. The traditional trappings of weddings are available, but not essential; you get to choose what makes the most sense for you and what will make you happy and fulfilled. Commit to creating a second wedding that celebrates your union in a way that fills you with joy and fills your scrapbooks with positive memories.

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