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How Do I Make Our First Anniversary Party In A Chateau As Special As Our Wedding?

Is this a second wedding?

Q: Dear Amy,

My husband and I got married in Los Angeles, California, this past June, and we threw a giant raging party with a live band, full bar, and late-night hotdogs. It was perfect!

He’s from France, and we want to celebrate with more of his friends and family that couldn’t make it to LA. What better excuse for a vacation! So we rented a chateau in Bordeaux for a few days this coming June to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We have about twenty people coming from LA and about thirty people from France, but 75 percent of them were at our actual wedding. We don’t want to do another ceremony, but we do want to do something in addition to the standard dinner and dancing. I know a chateau in France is super rad, but I would love to figure out something to make our “second wedding” extra special! I’m all out of creativity! Do you guys have any suggestions? I’d even love a way to incorporate all of our guests!!! Without a “special something” I feel like this second party might feel anticlimactic. I’d appreciate any ideas or advice you can throw my way!

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—Second time’s the charm?

A: Dear Second Time’s the Charm,

I mean, on the one hand, RealTalk: this party isn’t a wedding and isn’t going to feel as special as one. But on the other hand, RealTalk: it’s a party in a chateau in Bordeaux; it is going to be extremely special, and can you invite all of us?

I’m honestly not sure what the concern is here. If you’re thinking this party is going to feel as exciting and meaningful and climactic as your wedding, you are wrong. You had a wedding! It sounds like it was really fun and most of your people could be there! That is a great thing. But this party is not a wedding, and that “two people committing themselves for a lifetime” magic won’t be there.

Reasonable minds differ on the issue of second ceremonies, but I think you’re handling this perfectly. Everyone knows you are married, and you are inviting them to enjoy an evening of celebrating your union on the occasion of your first anniversary. That’s particularly nice, given that some of his people couldn’t make it to California for the wedding, and hosting (well, anything) at a chateau in France is magical.

But down to your questions.

First, how do you make this not feel anticlimactic and incorporate all of your guests on an emotional level? Start with the assumption that your guests are there for a good time! They could sign a beautiful guest book (or a cool alternative guest book). You can invite them to give toasts. It’s a small enough group that you can even risk having an open mic so that anyone who wants to say a few words can. Also, how lovely would it be to write individual notes of welcome to every guest to use as place cards? Certainly this is a great time to display lots of lovely photos of your wedding! Heck, re-wear the dress if you want! But I don’t think you need to try too hard here. What makes it special and meaningful is that you are blessed with fifty people who want to celebrate your love so much that they’re coming to your first anniversary party. Their love is what makes it significant.

Second, how do you make it an extra special party? I had a bunch of ideas, but then I just cut it down to this one: it is a party at a chateau in Bordeaux. You’re good. And if you really want inspiration, no one has topped Nell Diamond. Invite me?

Good Luck!

—Amy March


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