Second Wedding? Here’s What to Know About the Guest List

A bride and groom greeting guests at their wedding.

Getting married for the second time is equally as exciting as it was the first time, but that isn’t to say that planning a second wedding doesn’t bring an abundance of questions that the first go-around didn’t demand. One of those questions is how to formulate your guest list. This is a hard task no matter what type of wedding you’re planning, so here are some tips for getting it right, taking into account the fact that it’s your second time down the aisle.

Should You Go Big?

Many couples wonder what the proper etiquette is surrounding the idea of having a large wedding when one or more of the parties involved has already tied the knot. If it’s one person’s first wedding, it’s totally fine to have a big wedding. If it’s both partner’s second wedding, most agree it’s socially acceptable to have a big affair if the previous weddings were more than five years prior. If that’s not the case, you may want to stick to a smaller guest list.

What About Exes?

Wedding guests sitting at a table.

Some people may wonder whether or not they should include their exes and their respective family members in their second wedding. This is definitely a tricky situation, as you may feel bad leaving them out, but it could be awkward to include them. If you’re still very friendly with your ex, it’s acceptable to invite them to your event, and the same goes for their family. However, if you don’t have that close relationship, it’s better to refrain.

If your previous spouse is deceased, you may want to include their family members in your new nuptials. While this is a nice gesture, you should invite them without the expectation that they will necessarily attend. It’s important to realize that it may be a hard situation for them, which could prevent them from attending even though they likely wish you the best in your new relationship.

Overall, the issue of inviting or not inviting exes and their family members is one to be handled delicately and without taking offense if they end up declining the event.

An Even Split

For those getting married the second time to someone who’s never been married before, the question may arise as to whether the person who’s never been married before should have more spots on the guest list than their partner. While this is up to you to decide as the couple, it certainly makes sense for each of you to have equal guests on your list since this is a celebration for both of you and for the love that you share.

What About the Kids?

Two small kids sitting on the floor of a wedding reception.

Of course, couples who have children from previous marriages or relationships should include them in the wedding. If the kids are old enough, it’s a nice gesture to allow them to invite a friend or two each so that they feel more included and excited about the big day and so that they can share it with people who are important to them. If they want to be, it’s also a nice gesture to include children in the wedding party or to give them a special role for the big day, such as having them do a reading.

How About Friends?

Inviting “couple friends” that you socialized with during your previous marriage may feel uncomfortable when it comes to your second wedding. However, it also may feel awkward and hurtful to leave them out. For this question, you should follow much of the same philosophy applied to the inviting of exes and their family members. If you’re still close with the friends, you should definitely invite them. However, taper your expectations and be prepared to understand if they don’t come because they may feel uncomfortable with the prospect, despite the fact that they’re supportive of your new relationship. Extending the invite is the right thing to do if the closeness still exists, as that will ensure that no one feels slighted or left out.

Planning a wedding guest list is always tricky, and that’s especially true when it’s your “I do” take two. These tips help navigate the waters and make your invite list a little more clear-cut.

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