My first wedding was a big one which involved lots of planning and focused on others’ expectations. Because I was 23 years old and a people pleaser at the time, I worried too much about what others expected from my wedding day. As a result, I felt let down afterward because I was too busy to enjoy the day that I’d worked so hard to organize.
I’m certain it’s because my first marriage ended in a messy divorce that I took control of the second one and was determined to make it a relaxed, meaningful, and low-stress event. I also had two pre-teens and was conscious that the day I proclaimed my love publically for someone other than their dad wasn’t going to be especially enjoyable for either one of them.
Fortunately, my second wedding turned out exactly as my husband and I wanted: a small, joyful, and intimate gathering of close friends and family. Because I spent time preparing my children for the event, they were polite and accepted their stepdad (at least somewhat) as part of our new family. Of course, this is an ongoing process in all blended families, but we did get off to a pretty good start.
In fact, many second and third marriages are characterized by being uncomplicated, intimate, and small gatherings like mine was. For instance, a friend of mine only invited her three children, a few close friends, and immediate family. Since her fiancé’s family was small and lived in England, it turned out to be an intimate and relaxed event.
So make sure to take control of your second wedding and make it work for you, your kids, and your fiancé!
Here are 10 wedding tips to keep in mind for your second wedding day:
- Invite who you want and don’t succumb to others expectations. You’ve probably already gone that route, so this time, only invite essential people who make you feel special. Others – including family members and friends – will probably understand. If not, most will get over it in time. But if you desire a big wedding, go for it!
- Communicate clearly with your soon-to-be spouse. If your fiancé and you don’t agree, now is the time to practice compromising. For instance, if he or she prefers 100 guests and you’d like 50, try to compromise on a guest list of 75 – realizing that not all invited guests will attend anyway.
- Select clothing that feels right for you. This could be anything from a traditional, full-length gown, to a shorter dress in a non-traditional fabric or color. Pantsuits or casual attire are fine too. Remember it’s your day!
- Choose a location that works for you. It could be a park, church, home, or anywhere that keeps you in your comfort zone. Selecting a non-traditional location can also keep the cost down, which is a key aspect of moving forward to a positive lifestyle in your second marriage.
- Register or not. You probably already have most of the kitchenware and household items you need, and maybe even duplicates of some things. Yet many of your friends may want to do something special, so a great option is a charity registry or letting them decide on cash or a personalized gift.
- If you have kids, involve them in the planning. Most kids won’t want to be too involved but asking them for feedback can help them to feel more invested. For instance, my daughter picked out carrot cake for our wedding – hands down her favorite.
- Prepare your children. Expect storms and make a commitment to work through issues that arise. Asking you kids if they have questions and assuring them that your love for them is unwavering will help to ease the transition to having a new stepparent. Try not to make too many changes in their living space and avoid moving around your wedding time – if you want to enlist their cooperation. After all, most kids thrive on predictability rather than too many changes at once.
- Keep the cost within reasonable limits. Starting out a second marriage with debt from a wedding can add stress and make your transition more difficult for all family members.
- Don’t let past memories spoil your day. It’s OK to acknowledge that your first wedding, or even marriage, was full of stress or conflict, but don’t let negative memories impact your expectations of your second wedding. We all deserve a fresh start any time we choose.
- Relax and have fun. Remember this is your day and it’s only one day in a lifetime of great celebrations. So try to breathe and enjoy your friends and family. Hopefully, your second wedding will be a day filled with joy and laughter.
In sum, if you view relationships as teachers and approach your second wedding with optimism, you’ll be in a good position to plan a relaxed, fun day, which doesn’t resemble your first wedding.
Let’s end on the wise words of Martha Vanceburg: “Be gentle and generous with yourself.”
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