Updated: Sep 23, 2018
If you've been married before or have children it's perfectly acceptable to wear white.
If you've been married before or have children you're not supposed to wear a veil or have a train attached to your dress or carry orange blossoms. No one seems to worry today.
The second time around, your parents are not obligated to pay for anything.
If you get along with your ex-husband and his family and it's fine with your fiancé, then it's acceptable to invite them to the wedding.
If you've been down the aisle in the past, your wedding now might raise some etiquette questions for you. The world of weddings has changed so much lately, with etiquette for first weddings bending to allow for much more personal expression, fewer Have-To's, Musts and Shoulds, and the same is true for second weddings! You probably already know that the old etiquette rule of 'you can't wear white for a second wedding' is completely gone (and if you didn't already know it…surprise!), but you probably wonder about things like invitations, showers, registries, and more. We have the answers for you here.
Old-world etiquette rules, all those highly restrictive Don’ts from the past (which some of your relatives might not know are gone), have been phased out because there’s no longer a scary social stigma about getting divorced and marrying again, no shame about marrying again after being widowed. There’s no longer a belief that you only get one shot at it. In the past, there was a belief that you had to keep a second wedding small, not so bridal, that it couldn’t be much like a wedding at all.
But thankfully those days are long gone, and second weddings are often more bridal than the first! After all, you might have more money now that you’re older, you have more sophisticated tastes, you know better who you both are and what you want to express in your wedding day. Your first wedding might have been pretty much planned by your parents, or your first wedding reflected who you were with your prior partner.
With second weddings, you don’t have to keep it small and non-bridal. Most brides and grooms say the second wedding was the wedding they never had. Their dream come true. They weren’t restricted by etiquette, and they weren’t controlled by parents. They had much more freedom, and so the wedding was much more them. Or, they don’t dream of the big, formal wedding with 300 guests and a $50,000 expense. For them, the second wedding was the small, intimate and inexpensive celebration they always wanted.
Long story short…you can have any type of wedding you want. Big, small, destination, outdoor, at-home, ethnic, interfaith, whatever you’d like.
Wedding Day Wardrobe As far as your wedding outfit, etiquette rules have opened up every option to you. You can wear white. You can wear a long bridal gown and a train. The only rules you need to follow are the same rules as first-time brides: matching your gown to the formality of the wedding.
The only mini-etiquette rule that’s still floating around, and is completely up to your personal wishes: second-time brides shouldn’t wear a veil. Now, we’re seeing lots of second-time brides who do choose to wear a veil.
Brides who do want one reason that the veil is no longer an indication of virginity, so they want to wear one like so many first-time brides out there. And they’re free to do so. They might choose to honour the etiquette rule by not having the veil over their face as they walk down the aisle, but rather flipped over and flowing down the back of the gown. Perfectly acceptable. And of course, brides who had their first marriage annulled in the church are free to wear a veil over the face as if they were first-time brides. Nicole Kidman did this at her marriage to Keith Urban.
Less of an etiquette issue and more of a style issue is the second-time bride’s own personal wish to de-accent the gown, to choose a long, elegant gown that’s more like something a celebrity would wear to the Oscars than a beaded bridal gown. A sleek satin column dress with a strapless bodice, for instance. Yes, it’s a wedding dress, but it doesn’t have that unmistakable bridal gown look.
Bridal Showers As for bridal showers, you can have them! As many as you wish! There's no rule that says you don't get a second shot at this either. After all, you're building a new life together, and your family and friends want to support you in that. So your bridal party – yes, you can have a bridal party! As many or as few people as you agree on – can throw you a shower. Mothers should not host, as a lasting etiquette rule, but some people are breaking that 'law' as a matter of convenience when all the bridesmaids live out of state. As we said, etiquette is bending to allow for better personal choices.
Gifts Registering for gifts is not only fine, but it's the smart thing to do. Your guests are going to want to get you the things that you need. They want to get you great wedding gifts, and they depend on your registry to learn your style and preferences. It's a fallacy that if you don't create a registry guests will give you cash gifts. No, they're going to go out and buy you a platter or a pitcher that's their taste. Or you'll get a few hundred silver picture frames. The bridal registry is a service for guests as well as for you, one that they look for to guide them. So as a second wedding couple, you can do the same thing as all those first-time couples out there: establish 2-3 different registries. If you don't need much 'stuff,' then consider creating a honeymoon registry or a charitable registry as one of your options.
Ceremonies Your ceremony can be in a house of worship if you wish, but you'll have to go through some extra steps. Churches have their own standards and practices about performing second wedding rites, so they may ask for your annulment and divorce papers, a death certificate for your prior spouse and other paperwork. You'll need to go through the same interview process as first-time wedding couples, perhaps pre-marital counselling as well. You'll adhere to the house of worship's rules for weddings in general, but know that there's no etiquette rule saying you can't marry in a house of worship.
Invitations You'll go by the same etiquette rules for invitations as every other bride. If you're planning and paying for the wedding, your names are listed first on the invitation. If your parents are paying for it, their names go first. Some couples who plan and pay for their own weddings still choose to list their parents as the hosts on the invitation as a matter of respect and honor, so you have that option as well. Your invitation will match the formality and style of your wedding, and you enjoy the same design freedoms as all other brides and grooms.