Second Wedding Etiquette

Although the heart of the ceremony is the same, the rules of etiquette for a second wedding are a little different than they are for a first marriage. When announcing your happy news, the first recipients should be your children, if it applies. Depending on their age, you may let them choose whether or not to be the ones to let the other parent know. If that is not something they want to do, a simple, polite letter letting your ex-spouse know about the marriage and that you would like the children to participate is appropriate.

When choosing the guest list, it may be tempting to invite some who were at your fist wedding, but take into account the comfort level of each individual. In some cases, an announcement but not an invitation might be appropriate.

While a traditional first time bride generally wears a white dress, those who are brides a second time have more leniency in the dress department. More traditional etiquette maintained that off-white was the proper dress color for a second wedding, but modern brides are flouting that rule more often and are picking a formal dress in any color they choose. Pale colors remain popular, but anything from a designer dress to a dressy suit is appropriate.

In the past, traditional etiquette has stated that gifts are not acceptable for a second marriage. Gifts for a first marriage were to help the new couple set up their house and with a second, it wasn't considered necessary. This gift rule has evolved over time, however, and gifts for second weddings are much more common. Register as you would for a traditional wedding and let the guests know. If you don't feel comfortable registering, you can discreetly let anyone who inquires know that contributions for the Honeymoon or to a vacation with the new family would be welcome. Do not, however, suggest this in your invitation.

Showers for second weddings were traditionally not held for the same reason that gifts were withheld. Showers were intended to help set up a woman for married life. These days, showers are given more commonly, but with less traditional themes, such as "stock the liquor cabinet" or "outfit the bride for her Hawaiian Honeymoon."

Parents and relatives should not be expected to help finance a second wedding. You may graciously accept an offer of assistance, but typically the bride and groom should split the costs evenly.

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