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Second Weddings: What’s Appropriate?

As sad as it is realistic, divorce is common. Many individuals, however, find themselves in relationships and considering marriage for the second time.

For those that go through with a second marriage in their 50s, 60s or 70s, it can be just as exciting as the first time, but there are different things to consider now the children are, well, not children. There may even be grandchildren.

In speaking with Everything Zoomer, Canadian company The Wedding Planners owner Danielle Andrews Sunkel said it can be difficult for older children to come to terms with sharing once-single parent- and this is entirely understandable.

Ms Sunkel highlighted some things to consider for when it’s time to plan a second wedding celebration. She puts special emphasis on making people feel included, so, consider:

  • Having a son or daughter walk the bride or groom down the aisle
  • Include the spouses of married adult children (even if that seemed obvious!)
  • Discussing, beforehand, whether both parties are comfortable with exes being present. Some may not be – weigh the pros and cons. Do they really need to be there?
  • Asking, but not pressuring, your adult children to give brief speeches welcoming any new step-siblings to the family

These considerations all seem pretty obvious, no? Common sense should prevail.

As for strict ‘don’ts’, Ms Sunkel mentions:

  • Not springing wedding news on children, no matter how old. Definitely don’t elope and then later inform your children. “If you choose to do a quiet destination wedding for just the two of you, fine. Just tell them beforehand. I think that’s the biggest no-no. It’s an emotional time for children when their parent is marrying someone who isn’t their mother or father and you need to be sensitive to their emotions. Even when you’re dealing with your parents as an adult child, you’re always their little kid at heart,” Ms Sunkel said.
  • Not expecting your adult kids to warm up to your fiancé the day of the wedding if they haven’t had the chance beforehand to get to know them – even if you live far away, make an effort to get everyone at least mildly acquainted.

On the whole, Ms Sunkel said second marriages aren’t especially challenging, and most children seem genuinely happy for their parents.

Some other advice…

What’s the deal with gifts the second time around?

Nothing unusual – much the same as the first time, in fact. Obviously, an older couples and most people getting married a second time aren’t typically in need of home wares, so most guests may prefer to provide money in the form of actual cash, or as part of an established honeymoon fund.

If you know for a fact that some of your guests would prefer to get you something you can actually hold, set up a registry, but make it creative – things you’ve always wanted but have put off for one reason or another.

On the other hand, if you find your house is cluttered enough, register with your preferred charity and tell your guests you’d rather them make a donation!

Invites and bridal parties?

Choosing how to work your wedding invitation is entirely up to you. If the bride still uses her first married surname for all intents and purposes, there shouldn’t be a problem using it on the wedding invite.

As for a bridal party, many might be nodding their heads in agreement that it might feel a tad odd the second time around. Then again, a wedding is a celebration, so why not if you want to?



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Alana Lowes

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  • As the daughter of a mother who has been married three times (she is approaching 90, so not really much-married for all those years) and as a celebrant who conducts many second (and third) marriage ceremonies, I disagree with Ms Sunkel about the challenges of second marriages. They can be very challenging for the family and couple alike. However a good start is involving adult children in the ceremony and my favorite way to do this is to include a community affirmation in lieu of the giving-away of the bride. Being asked to affirm your support of the marriage and publicly making this affirmation is a powerful symbol of support that most people feel honor-bound to uphold.

    My mother’s second marriage partner took this one step further: he invited me out to dinner and as the oldest child asked for my permission to marry my mother. I was over 30 at the time and not really happy about her re-marrying, but this action disarmed all my defenses. We became a very close-knit extended family group.