There are a lot of weird goings on in the wedding web (and I’m not just talking about bloggers here, I’m also talking about brides and wedding forums, which quite often is it’s own special kind of hell). One of the goings on that I find particularly troubling is the way brides having their second wedding are treated as second class citizens. I once had someone email me saying she’d love to submit her wedding, but since it was her second wedding, she ‘wasn’t sure people wanted to hear about it.’ And it broke my heart.
In Dan Savage’s excellent book Commitment, he talks about how in our culture we view marriages as being successful if they last until one partner dies – no matter how miserable the participants were. I’ve been thinking a lot about that in my newlywed state, as I ponder the meaning of marriage, and I’ve been thinking about how sometimes, divorce is a certain kind of bravery. The ability to say, “I made a mistake” and then the bravery to say “And I’m willing to try again,” is a kind of bravery I can only hope I have. That’s not to say divorces are good things (of course) or should be taken lightly (of course). But that is to say that I have a place of respect in my heart for women in this community who are honestly and bravely getting married again, this time a bit wiser. So, I’m lucky to get to share this guest post by Brandi of The Day After (you can see her wedding graduate post over here.) She wrote this post when her friends announced what would be a second wedding for both of them. So, this one’s for the second time brides. Take it, Brandi:
Two friends, Mary Beth and Brad, announced their engagement at the party we threw a couple of weeks ago. I am ecstatic for them. They have decided that they will be having a short engagement period and will tie the knot in October. It’s the second wedding for both of them.
When discussing wedding plans with Mary Beth, she had appeared to try to downplay the whole thing. She talked about handing over the event, in its entirety, to a friend who had offered to throw them an engagement party. I’m not sure if this is still the plan, but it sounds like things are starting to develop into a bit more than she first had in mind. I think she’s enjoying the turn her thoughts have taken.
Our wedding was my second wedding. I struggled through an extra helping of bridal guilt as a result. I felt like there had to be a justification for our desire to celebrate with those that we loved. One of the first questions I received after announcing that Seena and I were engaged was “Are you just going to go the courthouse and get it over with?” followed closely by “Why now?” It made me feel like I needed to downplay the importance of this very special ceremonial moment. I’m so glad that I worked through it.
Seena, this morning at brunch, told Mary Beth and Brad about his feelings on the most important thing to do in wedding planning. Edit. I agree with him wholeheartedly, though there is thought I want to add when the second wedding layer is added. Do not let talk of what is or is not appropriate for a second wedding, a second marriage, make you feel like you have to diminish the significance of the commitment you are making to each other. Just because you’ve done it before does not make this relationship that you have now any less meaningful or sacred. Odds are, though they may tell you differently, that friends and family want to celebrate the both you and the life you intend to share as much as if you were marrying for the first time. Maybe with fewer gifts, but that’s not the point of this ritual. The point is to voice your commitment to and love for one another in front of the people who matter most and will hold you accountable to your words when you may have trouble remembering why you said them. The best part about the second go round the wedding track is that you can remove all that you feel is unnecessary and have the day as you wish it, whether that is the courthouse or a church wedding for 200.
This isn’t your second wedding, it’s your last. Should I have the honor of receiving an invitation, I’ll be there with bells on and help you celebrate, however you choose to do so, in the fullest manner possible. You deserve it.
As a postscript, Brandi emailed me this: “We did get to go to the wedding, by the way. It was beautiful and they were obviously just as ecstatic and overwhelmed by the whole thing as if it were the first time. It did my heart good to see.“