A Wedding Is Just A Snapshot


It won't be the first, and it isn't the last

A Wedding Is Just A Snapshot | A Practical Wedding

by Sarah Bumbarger

I’m looking for a white dress. I’d like it to be a short, classy, modern, special dress, which I will wear on the day I get married. One that my haute couture-loving seamstress grandmother would love. One in which I will feel like a glamorous, lovely version of myself.

The bridal consultant tells me they have no short dresses, with some mixture of surprise and disappointment that I’d asked. This is the second strike against me. Not only am I shopping for a dress just six months from the date, not even firm yet, on which we hope to get married, but I want a short dress on top of it. A failure of a bride, her raised eyebrows indicated. She might as well have clucked with disapproval.

So I try on some long gowns. The big dresses, made of satin and tulle. The ones that can stand up on their own, bolstered by stiff fabric and bridal dreams. They are lovely, but I feel out of place in them, like a girl playing dress up. Standing in my underwear in between dresses, I use my phone to show my friend a shorter bridal dress I found online, one I really love. I say, “Can’t I just wear this, or something like this?” “Yeah, you could,” she says, “but this is the only time you can wear a wedding gown.”

She is right, and she’s not the only one saying it. There’s this voice, maybe it’s mine, or maybe it’s the collective societal whisper, that says I should wear a wedding gown. Not even because I want to, but because I won’t be able to again. You can only get away with the princess thing once. Or the glamorous Hollywood siren bride, or the sweet lace ball gown bride, or the modern non-traditional but really quite traditional mermaid gown bride. Or whatever version of bride fits into the image you are painting, of yourself, your partner, your relationship.

The dress isn’t the only thing you won’t have a shot at again. Only once will you have the opportunity to get 150 of your friends and family in one large ballroom, walk down the aisle with your father, have a first dance, cut some white cake. Maybe you don’t even want these things that you can only have once. But there’s still the voice telling you to do them, so that you don’t later regret not having done them.

Sometime during the wedding planning, these symbols take on outsized importance. It seems they must be perfect, not just because we can only do them once, but also because they should be the faithful representation of your relationship, of what is important to you and your partner—personally, spiritually, aesthetically, and otherwise. These static symbols should be a faithful representation, not just for now, but for always. Because the marriage is forever, right?

But in reality, the wedding day celebrates the start of one of the longest and most intense iterative processes most of us will go through—a marriage. We are committing to a forever process, which is much different than committing to a static forever. For me, what makes it so significant is that we’re committing knowing that things will change, and not knowing what those changing things will be. But when we plan a wedding, we are not encouraged to think about how we will handle this iterative process, what we will bring to it each day. Instead, we are encouraged to think about all the static symbols, the trappings of the wedding. There is something out of sync with the only-once framework to celebrate the over and over again.

My fiancé and I designed my engagement ring together. In one of the earlier designs, I wanted a smaller diamond than what I ended up with, one whose size would match the design I envisioned. Before the design changed, my fiancé’s sister told him, “Just get her the bigger diamond,” thinking maybe that he was being stingy. “She wants a smaller one,” he replied, “and so what, if she changes her mind later in life and wants a bigger one, I’ll get her a bigger one.”

When he first told me this, I grimaced, saying I wouldn’t ever want to change the ring or the stone, because I am sentimental and it had to be forever. I am sentimental, but I was putting too much stock in the notion of the ring, that it had to be the perfect thing, done once, forever. Like the wedding. Nothing like a marriage.

But now I see he was on to something, to not be so wrapped up in the idea of forever, or the idea that an object or moment could always hold the essence of the relationship. Maybe later my taste will change, or neither of us will want to wear rings at all. The ring as a symbol holds value not because it will necessarily be the perfect thing forever (though it’s so lovely, I feel it will be). It holds value because making it gave us a fun and interesting experience, because it reminds us of when we got engaged, and because the new weight of it on my finger reminds me of him.

The wedding, really, will not be the first day we decided to be together, and it will not be the last day. It is a day, on which we act on a decision we made a long time ago, one we’ll continue to make, through the daily wakings and sleepings, all the spoken and unspoken yeses. The wedding is just a snapshot of the two of us in that moment when we act on the decision. A snapshot of the two of us facing the unknown, and betting that it will be better with each other.

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  • 39bride

    “For me, what makes it so significant is that we’re committing knowing
    that things will change, and not knowing what those changing things will
    be.”

    I think that may be the best description of a wedding that I’ve ever read. I’m not sure we ever articulated that completely, but it’s something my now-husband and I were deeply aware of since we got married at a somewhat “later” age. It was something I lived a bit in fear of (“Will we really be able to stay in love and manage the challenges as we change?”) until recently, as we weathered some incredible stresses piled one atop another.

    I love the last paragraph, too. Just beautiful. Thanks for writing so clearly and beautiful about something so fundamental but difficult to thoroughly express.

  • Caz

    Oh! This. Right here: “The wedding, really, will not be the first day we decided to be
    together, and it will not be the last day. It is a day, on which we act
    on a decision we made a long time ago, one we’ll continue to make,
    through the daily wakings and sleepings, all the spoken and unspoken
    yeses. The wedding is just a snapshot of the two of us in that moment
    when we act on the decision. A snapshot of the two of us facing the
    unknown, and betting that it will be better with each other.”
    Thank you for articulating so beautifully what I’ve been trying to find in a reading to have at our ceremony in April about what our marriage (and our wedding) means.

    Also, as someone who will be wearing a hand-made green wedding dress, I know what you mean about the “clucking of disapproval”. My goodness.

    • M.

      Came here to quote that same section. Just so true. Stick it on the fridge to look at every day true.

    • http://www.alivingspace.com/ Julia | alivingspace

      YES! Love that last paragraph. I am officiating a wedding later this year, and that paragraph went straight onto my ideas document. Perfect.

    • Nicole Cherae

      Love this last part!

    • Sam2

      I used a great reading that very much says a similar sentiment, if you are interested.

      Union from The Beginning to End by Robert Fulghum

      You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, ” You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.

      • Caz

        It reminded me very much of this exact reading!! It’s definitely in the running :-D Thank you for sharing!

      • Alyssa M

        Bookmarking! That is really beautiful.

      • blimunda

        Thank you so much for posting this!! So, so much!!

  • Nina B.

    So beautiful! I also got the disapproving clucks when I asked for a short dress, and the lines about missed opportunities when we announced we eloped. This post is exactly what I heard in my head when I had to fight those battles, and it’s exactly what I try to convey to friends wrapped up in the “best day of your life” drama. Wonderfully stated.

  • PurpleHeather

    Utterly beautiful words, thank you.
    It rings true to me as our wedding is on a station platform, my processional music is a (top secret!) totally non-traditional tune, I’m wearing a tea length dress, and our cocktail hour is on a steam train. We are not having a traditional ceremony, we’re having the ceremony that suits us, however I feel like I need to justtify these things to anyone and everyone, because they are Not Normal.
    I love the idea of marriage as an iterative process; the whole reason my partner and I are doing this is because we’re better together, things are easier with him.
    Thanks for writing this.

    • Alyssa M

      Oh my god. Your wedding sounds AMAZING. 0.0 No need to justify here. Cocktail hour on a train sounds FABULOUS!

      Edited to Add: I’m kind of obsessed with trains, even though I’ve only ridden on one once in my life. Yours is the first wedding I’ve actually really envied.

    • Laura

      Oooh, Cocktail hour on a steam train following a non-traditional (whatever “traditional” means) ceremony while wearing a tea length dress sounds absolutely lovely!

      • PurpleHeather

        Thank you :-) on the whole the reaction to our save the dates has been people squeezing with anticipation. I’m just worried about a very few of my partner’s rather traditional family members, who haven’t met me yet.

        • Laura

          All that I can say is that, my friend who had a dress-in-costume, walk down the isle to the mow-mow song, non-religious, non-bridal party, non-unity candle, non-dance or anything formal wedding on halloween weekend at a castle had her nay-saying/angry/critical mom all happy inside/and outside once she saw it come together. Good luck!

    • Laura C

      Yes, and as I think about it, I’ve found my wedding thoughts to be an iterative process as well. I’d never expected to have a wedding-wedding until suddenly I was with someone who wanted one, and as we went to the many weddings of his friends, I went through the “I guess it’ll be my only chance to wear a big white dress” stage for a while and then gradually, wedding by wedding, decided I was just over one thing after another. The more I saw other people do the whole neo-traditional wedding thing, the more I decided it was ok it wasn’t me, the more I wanted our decision process about our wedding to reflect our decision process about other things. I think it’s right that a wedding is a snapshot; as time goes on I want more and more for it to be a snapshot of us as us, not us in costume. If that makes any sense.

      • M.

        “…then gradually, wedding by wedding, decided I was just over one thing after another.” This happened to me last summer over the course of three weddings I attended. Gorgeous events full of love, but really cemented my choices.

        “I want more and more for it to be a snapshot of us as us, not us in costume. If that makes any sense.” Total, total sense. Perfect.

      • PurpleHeather

        It makes perfect sense :-)

    • Therese

      Cocktail hour on a steam train??? Whaaat?! Amazing!

      • PurpleHeather

        Thank you :-) Buckinghamshire railway centre near Aylesbury if anyone wants a UK venue

  • Alyssa M

    I needed that reminder today. Planning a simple, fun, budget wedding at the same time my younger brother is going super WIC makes me insecure occasionally. Yes, I want the small campfire reception. It doesn’t matter if it’s my “only chance” to have a giant ballroom with a DJ. I’m uncomfortable in ballrooms and find DJs annoying.

    • Laura

      Plus whose to say if you ever decided you liked ballrooms and DJs that you couldn’t rent it out for your birthday someday? This is not our last chance.

      • Jess

        It would probably be cheaper, too!

      • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

        Badger and I had so many ideas for different weddings- and we loved all of them. It made us kind of sad that we couldn’t have an evening wedding in a ballroom and a brunch garden wedding at the same time. So we’ve decided that we’re going to celebrate big anniversaries or events in our lives with our friends/family- we’re having the evening wedding in two months, but perhaps 5 years after that we’ll have brunch in the botanical gardens, or a black tie cocktail party. By realizing that a party can be thrown more than once, there’s been a lot less stress.

        • Jess

          Adding big fun anniversary parties to my list of things I want out of life…

          Because seriously? I’m way introverted, and I LOVE hosting parties way more like I like attending them. Seeing my extroverted people be happy around the crowd, but being able to talk to people one on one because it’s MY party? Awesome.

      • Alyssa M

        Eh, I’m to say that. I’m really far too introverted to even consider a big house party for my birthday. Which is why it’s ridiculous for me to wonder if I’m making a mistake by not having a big fancy dance party. If I didn’t have that “it’s my only chance” voice I would never in my life even dream it.

        • Laura

          More power to you! The best weddings are the ones where the couple does exactly what they feel like doing. Even not calling it a wedding and or getting married with no “event” at all to speak of.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        For anyone who enjoys the planning part of wedding planning – cake tastings, selecting linens, etc. – volunteer! Lots of non-profits have annual galas or luncheons or benefit dinners. It can be a nice, discrete volunteer project for someone who can’t commit to multiple Saturdays or whatever but has experience and skills they want to contribute.

  • Laura

    Thank you for articulating this so beautifully. Sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “It’s only one day! (Yes, a special day…but) JUST A DAY!” Because even when you make a choice that is within the more “traditional” category (i.e., I am wearing a long dress) people will still be giving clucks of disapproval. About something. Even people whom you would never expect to do so. The people in your life who are normally so “go-with-the-flow” might have OPINIONS because of the “timeless” nature of this day (i.e., “but you have to have a wedding website because otherwise how will you have your love story up for everyone to see?”) I’ve been surprised at all the opinions and am having trouble navigating that, honestly. Maybe I’ll create the wedding website afterall, but the only thing on it will be a link to this post along with another of my favorites: “I don’t care if you like it!”

    • MC

      OMG I loooove the idea of putting links to my favorite APW articles on our wedding website. I wonder if Fiance would agree to that…

      • Laura C

        Seriously! Contemplating…

        • Caz

          Our wedding website has a link to the article about hats from when APW did the link-up with the UK (I’m English, my fiancé is American)….

  • M.

    “Maybe you don’t even want these things that you can only have once.” There haven’t been many struggles for us in our non-trad wedding planning, from cocktail-style no-dancing daytime reception in a theater lobby to no flowers to evites… but this is something that internally I’ve battled. So insidious! I went to 2 dress places (which was fun but enough), got the J.Crew dress I originally had my eye on, and it was over. I love my dress and feel great in it and WANT it, but every few weeks I get in a bit of a funk and think… Should I have just tried on a ballgown? Just to see? I’ll never get to wear something like that! (But I don’t even want to??) It passes, but man… what a weird feeling! Makes it all the better to have a place like APW where we can read things like this and have these discussions. We are 1) not alone 2) all different and 3) real brides/grooms and real partners putting a lot of thought into a very important thing.

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

      I have zero regrets about my short dress, because I it felt like ME in ways a fluffy long dress never would. I wondered a bit if I would later feel I missed out on something, but so far that hasn’t happened.

      • oh, meredith

        I wanted a short dress (I wanted to make it myself, too), and was pressured into buying a long traditional ballgown. It is a gorgeous dress and I looked great in it, but I have a tinge of dissatisfaction when I see it in the photos. Because I didn’t hold true to who I am in this instance.
        But as the author points out, it’s just one day. I plan to make the dress I would have worn, and just rock it out in every day life. ;)

    • Jessica

      I wanted a short dress and was pressured into trying on ball gowns that were far, far out of my price range. While yes, I did look beautiful/regal in them, they weren’t me and I can tell you that I would have worried about damaging that train or getting the bottom of it dirty all day, whereas my short dress was awesome and twirly and very me.

      My mom was disappointed until my final fitting, when she finally gave in and agreed that it was the dress for me. I’m thinking of having it dyed to be off-white and wearing it for our anniversary, because it is not a dress that needs to be tucked away in a closet forever, it is a dress that needs to be worn and danced in a few more time.

    • alexandra

      I bought a J. Crew dress, too, and never even went to try on dresses at a store. My mom lives too far away to have come shopping with me, and I liked the J. Crew dress, so…what was the point of going to David’s Bridal or a boutique? But yes, I had many twinges of regret over that. “This is my only chance” was a refrain in my mind during wedding planning quite a number of times, not just for the dress. In hindsight, it was all very foolish and clearly influenced by the wedding industry. My own wedding was a lot of fun and also very meaningful, of course, but compared to my marriage…there’s just no comparison. I don’t know why I let the planning overtake me to the extent that it did.

  • themoderngal

    This is so wise. I managed to ignore the “this is the only shot you get” thoughts for just about everything EXCEPT the dress. Like you, I wanted something shorter, but when I found none at the standard dress shops, I gave into the “well, this is the only time you get to wear a dress like this.” And looking back, that’s pretty much the only regret about my wedding. I hated my dress and never felt comfortable in it. BUT, it’s also never bothered me much, because, as is the point of your post, the wedding was just a snapshot. It was a lovely day that was a wonderful representation of our relationship and the marriage we’ve had in the 2.5 years since.

    And I’ve worn some really damn lovely dresses since!

  • http://theannabelleblog.com/ Anna Belle

    David’s Bridal has tons of short dresses, if you are still interested. I must have tried on over 20 (even available in store in my size) and found three that I adored enough to make my choice tricky.

  • MC

    “Maybe you don’t even want these things that you can only have once. But
    there’s still the voice telling you to do them, so that you don’t later
    regret not having done them.”
    Yep. Feeling this so much during the wedding planning process, especially with the dress (I also want a short one). Fiance & I decide we don’t want/need something, MIL/friends/random strangers say, “But are you SURE?” I want everyone who has ever said this to us to read this post.

    Also, I didn’t even want an engagement ring at all, and a couple of my friends, unbeknownst to me at the time, told my fiance that I definitely did want a ring – what?! Luckily he knew to trust that I would tell him what I wanted, and a year later I am still perfectly content with being ringless.

  • BD

    This kinda reminds me of the post on “Your wedding is not timeless”. Although that post was more about aesthetics, it still hits on the same problem that I think a lot of people have when planning a wedding. When I look back on all the things I did for my wedding simply because I could “only do it once”, I wince. I should have gotten that non-white wedding dress. I should have walked down the aisle alone. I should have done the things I actually wanted to do, that felt more like me, than give into this idea that I had to do anything simply because it’s a wedding and weddings are” forever”.

    • BreckW

      I was going to say the exact same thing.

    • Melissa

      YES- I thought of “Your wedding is not timeless” too. Looking at old wedding photos brings me SO MUCH JOY precisely BECAUSE they are a snapshot of a moment in time. The photos from my parents’ early 80′s wedding are epic. The hair, the outfits- it’s all completely perfect in a totally imperfect way. (Additionally, my completely unscientific poll tells me that 90% of people point to unconventional weddings as the best marriage celebrations they’ve attended- and isn’t a vivid, enduring memory the very definition of timeless?)

  • Sarah E

    Bullseye. Well-said.

    Additionally, even if I do like all the conventional trappings- evening gown, lots of flowers, giant cake- my wedding is just not the best time for them. I want a rockin’ dance party at our wedding, so I need a dress I can move in. To have all these trappings at one party is just too much- financially for me, and overwhelming in the “planning a party” sense. You can only appreciate so much at a time.

  • emilyg25

    This is wonderful. Just wonderful.

    Every time during wedding planning that I said, “This has to be perfect, because this is the only chance we get!” my guy would remind me that it is not. You can conceivably wear a white dress whenever you like, invite 100 of your closest family and friends over every summer, eat a big-ass cake once a month. And, like this article reiterates, those things do not hold the special magical key to perfection. They are just things.

  • Julia_ColorMeGreen

    i’m totally feeling this about my dress, but unlike you it is making me second guess my dress choice.. i was feeling good about wearing my aunt’s vintage dress and thinking “it is only one day, it really doesn’t need to be my dream dress, good enough is good enough”…but then i kept looking at wedding blogs and seeing pictures of flowy dresses and realizing that if i go with my aunt’s dress, there is no do over, there is no other time when i get to take photos of my wedding day in a fancier dress. trying to remind myself maybe i just need to buy a long flowy colored dress i love that i can rock at other times in my life.

  • Alison O

    I have not planned a wedding so I cannot empathize with feeling pressure from other people to do this or that ‘once in a lifetime thing’ for your wedding, but from a neutral standpoint it’s easy to poke holes in the “but this is your only chance” argument. If it’s your only chance to get married in a big white ball gown, then it’s also just as likely to be your only chance to walk down it wearing a pantsuit (or insert other nontraditional wedding outfit or feature or lack thereof here).

    And…if later in life you feel a deep need to wear a big white ball gown (which, who says you will, if you don’t now?) and you didn’t at your wedding and aren’t getting married again, you only need a little creativity to figure out how to do that. Hell, rent a big gown and go to a fancy dinner and roll around town telling passersby you just eloped. Why not?

  • Maureen Demar Hall

    Beautifully said! Your mom wasn’t a “traditional” bride either and that was one of the best weddings we’ve been to! Can’t wait to see what you end up in…… It’s your day, after all!

  • Sara

    The short dress thing makes me smile – this is off topic but I am single at the moment, and have always imagined myself in a short/tea length wedding dress. I keep my imaginary wedding details to myself mostly, so only a couple friends have heard me say something about it. But my mother recently told me she was out at a Goodwill in St. Louis (where she bought me an awesome lamp) and saw a tea length wedding dress. “I almost bought it for you” she said, “it was perfect. But I didn’t want to freak you out.” How she knew that I would want that kind of dress confuses and surprises me since our styles could not be more different. But I do have great legs (just an observation) and own way way way too many shoes, so maybe she just knew that I’d want to show those both off one day.

    Sorry, for the ramblings. I loved this post. Its important to remember yourself in everything and try to drown out the naysayers. People love to poke at things and make comments, just let them. :) I tend to remind myself at the corporate events I run that people will always find something to complain about, and always find something to compliment. There’s no pleasing everyone.

    • Alyssa M

      Sometimes moms know us better than we think :)

  • Sam2

    “We are committing to a forever process, which is much different than committing to a static forever. For me, what makes it so significant is that we’re committing knowing that things will change, and not knowing what those changing things will be. But when we plan a wedding, we are not encouraged to think about how we will handle this iterative process, what we will bring to it each day. Instead, we are encouraged to think about all the static symbols, the trappings of the wedding.”

    Ugh. SO. TRUE. I got so tired of focusing on the stuff of getting wedded and not the meat of MARRIED. Way to bring the conversation around! I loved every word.

  • JSwen

    Beautifully put: “The wedding, really, will not be the first day we decided to be together, and it will not be the last day.”

    I’m in the same spot with the dress. I’ll be shopping 5 months out and the bridal boutiques have been asking me to come in earlier because I won’t be able to get all the dresses in that “short” of a time frame. My answer was, “Then I won’t buy a dress that takes that long to get.” I’m hoping to find the dress on the bridesmaid rack or at a department store. Best of luck in your search for a snazzy dress.

  • Winny the Elephant

    I’ve always thought this about our wedding. The WIC wants you to make this your one statement of who you are. As if this is the one chance to put your identity as a person and a couple into every little detail, right down to the perfectly mismatched teacups or the mid century modern glassware. This is not our only chance to throw a party, this is not our only expression of who we are!

    • Emma Klues

      Yes yes! I always think of wedding regrets as being impossible. Would I do it differently now than I did 2.5 years ago? Sure, we’re different people! But it is what we chose then. It is what it is, and it wouldn’t be our wedding if it weren’t.

  • Winny the Elephant

    And who says you can never throw a huge party again!

  • Melissa the Researcher

    One of the other reasons the “this is your only chance!” argument sucks is that for some people (myself included), it might not be. As in, (and here is where I become a real downer, sorry), you might get divorced. And then maybe you marry someone else. So…you have two (or three, or however many) “only chances.” The phrase kind of loses all of its punch when there are multiple “only”s. (Other people are making this argument without the divorce, by saying you could have multiple “only”s by throwing an anniversary brunch or whatever, which is a great idea, but I felt like the multiple marriage thing was a valid and oft ignored because divorce is no fun to think about but it happens anyway aspect.)

    (Note: I’m using ‘you’ in a very general sense, not ‘you’ as in the author of the piece (which I quite like) or myself or anyone else in particular.)

    So…there’s that. Also, I remember going through the divorce process and telling my mom that on top of everything else, I was upset because I’d “blown my wad” on the wedding, because we’d done all of these really special and true-to-me/us and super meaningful things, and I felt like I had ruined my “only chance” to use them, because they had been “wasted” on a marriage that didn’t stick. Which, with the benefit of distance, I can tell you is not true. If I get married again, we will be able to do any and all number of things that are super meaningful to us, and it will still be important, and to heck with “only chances” and what we’d done before.

    • alexandra

      Yeesh…if I got divorced, I wouldn’t WANT to go through the experience of planning a wedding-y wedding again. That was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me, whether I get divorced or widowed. If I ever get married again (no plans for this; I’m happily married), I’ll get married on the beach in a tiny ceremony next to my house with a dozen guests, tops, and have dinner at a nice restaurant. Nothing I’d have to plan for more than a couple of weeks, that’s for sure.

      Second weddings are not the same as first weddings. They can be beautiful and meaningful, but it’s just not the same vibe.

      • Melissa the Researcher

        Interesting. But, playing devil’s advocate, what if you had loved the planning piece of it? Or you really loved the symbolic things you did the first time around? Or really just love DJ-fueled dance parties with all of your family and friends? You shouldn’t have to give those things up if you want them at a not-your-first wedding, simply because you had your “only chance.” (Of course, you can have the small beach wedding instead, if that’s what you want. The point here is that you can choose, and that choice shouldn’t be hampered by whatever you chose before, or whatever other people will tell you you’re potentially missing out on.)

        Also, without being entirely sure as to your meaning, I’d hate to think I’d be forced to have a different vibe at a not-my-first wedding simply because it’s not-the-first. For all of the problems of the marriage, my first wedding day was a glorious lovefest with all of my favorite people, and I have exceptionally fond memories of it, so I kind of wouldn’t mind repeating those parts. And I’d still be vowing to love another person with everything I had, with a much clearer sense of what that might entail, so while lots of things wouldn’t be the same, some things might be. And I think that would be okay.

        • Karen

          Agreed. I’m getting married for the second time on April 12. I got married the first time in 1997. I am a much different person now and this is a much different relationship than the first time. Those of us getting married a second time (or more) should celebrate just as much as those getting married for the first time. We’ve been through the school of hard knocks and still believe in the power of love. That is part of what makes this ceremony incredibly special. I know about the possibilities that lay beyond the “I dos” and am willing to take that chance anyway.

          • Melissa the Researcher

            Congratulations to you!

        • Alexandra

          Huge second weddings that attempt to approximate the same traditions symbolic of youthful innocence, inexperience, and expectations as first weddings (big white dress, registry, massive reception, garter belt, dad giving you away, thrown bouquet, veil, etc.) feel a bit vulgar to me, no matter what the reason for the first marriage’s dissolution. I went to a wedding that fit this description last year, and it just didn’t work. Once your own children are scattering flowers and bearing rings, “the jig is up” as Miranda on Sex and the City said.

          The second time a person marries, it seems the tone of the day is more understated and sophisticated, to match the maturity of the involved parties. Emily Post and Miss Manners both have quite a lot to say about this topic, but the consensus seems to be that it’s a mistake to try to recreate a first wedding.

          A second wedding ought to be plenty of fun–why not? But there really are things in life that you only get one shot at.

          Second weddings seem like such an interesting topic I wonder why APW hasn’t done a post about this before.

  • enfp

    Oh this is good. So so true, and well said. It can be hard to resist the pressure to adopt the things the WIC tells you you must do or you’ll regret it with (when they really don’t fit with your tastes or values as a couple), while ALSO resisting the pressure to make everything perfectly represent your relationship. Thank god for posts like this, pointing the way to a healthier balance!

  • cecc

    LOVE this post. LOVE this whole website and community of compassionate, supportive, open-minded women. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • lizperk23

    Loving this. Especially as I’m about to start looking for a dress. Mom and I were just talking about how I might just as soon have a shorter dress, and that’s ok (gotta be able to dance)!