Why We’re Going Big For Our Second Wedding


I had a big white church wedding. I had the dress. I had the flowers. I had my dad walking me down the aisle. I also had a big failed marriage.

My fiancé also had a big wedding. And a different big failed marriage.

We met each other at about the time we both realized we were in dead and loveless marriages. We both kept our relationship something we could tell our spouses about, but deep down, if I’m totally honest with myself, I knew that he was the one I was supposed to be with. That was actually a very difficult realization for me.

We’d been through a lot together. He was the one who supported me when a close friend died. He helped me through work issues. After his marriage ended, he went through a major depression (don’t think that because you wanted the relationship to end that you’re not going to go through some hard emotional stuff) and I called the cops on him when I was sure he was going to commit suicide. I was so anxious about my divorce and how it was affecting my children (at that time they were nine and twelve years old) that I was on some heavy-duty anti-anxiety and sleep pills—just to make it through the day. Through it all, we supported each other. We also managed to reach out to each other during those times, even when we didn’t want to admit what we were to one another.

Today, both of us are (mostly) free of our demons and we’re happier than, well, than ever.

When we first started dating, we kept it quiet. As a mother, I didn’t want to introduce my girls to someone until I was absolutely positive. And, as we live in a fairly small town, both of our ex-spouses still live here. Not to mention that they started hanging out together in that horrible commiseration that fed their hatred.

As things were becoming more and more serious, and we were able to recognize how serious, we slowly introduced each other to our families. The girls were accepting, but kept him at a distance. His mom believed that I was the reason his marriage had ended. My parents were sure that I was rushing into things. It took a little time to get everyone used to the idea of “us.”

Then, when my fiancé and I got engaged, we kept it pretty low key. Again. We’re fairly low-key people. We told our immediate families and close friends, but we didn’t shout it from the rooftops. I wore my ring and we sort of just waited. I did tell my ex because I felt like he needed to hear it from me.

When we started to talk about the actual wedding, I was adamant that I wanted something small. We could even elope. And then I started really thinking. While I thought I didn’t really need another big white dress, or the reception, or the flowers, I did need a public ceremony. I started to see that a public declaration of our love was very important. And not just to us, but to my girls. We were going to be a family and we needed that to be publicly recognized. We are not only committing to each other, we are committing to our family. And this moment of transition, this influential moment, needed to be publicly recognized. And celebrated.

I think that traditionally when two people become engaged, the focus is on becoming partners and creating a marriage. But we are doing even more than that; we are creating our own family right from the start. The idea that, not only are we getting married, but that the addition of my fiancé begins a new unit of kin is a big idea, and it was difficult to get my head wrapped around it. I wasn’t just asking him to accept me, but to accept my children as well; he is now going to be not only my partner, but also a stepdad to my two girls. Family is a big core value for both of us. He doesn’t have kids of his own, and we won’t be able to have children together, so this is it. In our minds, beginning our marriage has become synonymous with beginning our new family. We’re not just getting married. We are making a family.

I finally understood that the actual ceremony—when we stand up in front of our family and friends to declare our commitment to each other and to our family—is integral to our core value of family. It will be the beginning of our life. For all of us. To help symbolize all of this, we chose to include only the four of us in the wedding party.

And then we needed a big, amazing party to celebrate this beginning.

So the more we talked, the more I realized that I did want (another) big white wedding. With the flowers and the reception and my dad walking me down the aisle. We’re also spending our own money—both of us felt very strongly that we should do this ourselves. And we’re building a house, a new home, in the middle of this. It’s a new beginning in many, many ways.

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  • melissa


  • Oh, my dear Sally. You are so singing my song, except that my first wedding was the one on the down low. I remember my mom talking about an “appropriate” dress for my second wedding (hell with that–I wore a big white dress and a veil and loved every second of it!). My father in law didn’t come (that front row on his side was pretty damn empty!). But, you know, a year later, even my fater in law is coming around. They are throwing a party for our first anniversary–and that’s pretty huge.

    As divorcees with 4 kids between us, who also value family above all else and saw our wedding as a way to deepen our bonds as a family, we actually brought our kids actively into the ceremony. After we said our vows to eachother and before we exchanged rings, we had a little family ceremony where we each said vows to the others’ kids. This is what I said to his boys:

    ” Chad, Jared, I love you guys. I didn’t know I needed boys in my life until you guys showed up, and now I wonder how we ever lived without ticklespanks and butt jokes. Thank you so much for allowing me and my girls into your family. I promise that I we will never get in the way of your relationship with your dad. You are his favorites and I’ll do everything I can to bring you guys closer. I will also not try to be your mom. You have a really good mom already. But there may come times when there are things going on in your lives that you think nobody would ever understand. Try me. You will always find a friend in me. Melissa and Ciella, you are my everything, and you always will be. Thanks for letting these guys join our family. ”

    Brian then said his stuff to my girls–tailored to his relationship with them. Then we gave the boys leathermans with their names engraved on them, and my husband gave each of my girls a ring that had belonged to his late maternal grandmother (SO SPECIAL).

    We all cried and then had a huge family hug after that and it was AWESOME and SPECIAL.

    So best of luck and don’t let anyone throw a wet towel on your joy!

    • Karen

      What a beautiful addition to your ceremony! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Hillori

    I find it fascinating that while society has accepted divorce, the stigma surrounding remarriage still seems pretty strong.

    Congratulations on reclaiming happiness and joy!

    • Yes. Some people do seem to treat it like: “You broke the marriage contract once, so why should we give you a big party again?” but honestly, most of the people in my life were incredibly happy for us and psyched to celebrate with us and make it as big as we wanted. Part of it was that few of my family really felt like my first husband was right for me, and Brian so obviously is, but still, people seemed generally supportive.

      I felt like I was freed from so many expectations the second time around and that we could really do it exactly like we wanted, mixing traditional and nontraditional elements with impunity! It also helped that we paid for everything ourselves (which seemed right to us–it would have been beyond weird to have parents pay for anything when we have been supporting families and children of our own for over a decade each). As with most things–you’re much better at things the second time around. I found it to be true about planning weddings and am finding it to be true about being married a second time too(Thank God).

      • Class of 1980

        “I felt like I was freed from so many expectations the second time around and that we could really do it exactly like we wanted, mixing traditional and nontraditional elements with impunity!”

        There’s the upside to a second wedding. Probably no one will fight you if you have your heart set on wearing a purple dress, etc… etc… etc…

        • Sandy

          I noticed this as well. My husband (my second) and I married quickly, deciding after about 3 months of engagement that another year was too long, and planned our wedding in 8 weeks. Meanwhile, his sister (22) was beginning the year long planning of her own wedding (coming up this August). I noticed that we were given much more room to manuver, with guest lists, ceremony specifics, and location, than she was and, even though no one would say it aloud, I know that part of it was due to this being my second marriage. While it made me sad, it was also liberating to choose what I wanted.

    • meg

      I never thought about it in exactly those terms, but you’re so right. Which is interesting. Shouldn’t remarriage be the GOOD part? The carrot at the end of the often super painful stick of divorce? We’re so confused.

      Also, I’ve never been anything but OVER THE MOON to celebrate a right for them wedding, after celebrating a wrong for them wedding (not all first marriages are wrong for the couple! But for most of our friends who divorced early, they were, and we all knew it at the first wedding. MAN did that make the second wedding sweet….)

  • Amy March

    The fuss around big white second weddings just highlights how far our traditions have departed from their original meaning. If your father walks you down the aisle to give you away because he has control over you, and you wear white and a veil as a symbol of your virginal purity, it doesn’t make sense to do those things again. But of course most people don’t have those motivations the first time around either. If we have big weddings to celebrate a forever promise, does it make sense to have them when that promise has been broken? But if we have them to honor those who came before and celebrate a major life change- of course it makes sense!

    • Class of 1980

      Well, the whole “white dress = purity” thing isn’t historical anyway. For most of history, brides wore color.

      Even when white (very slowly) became popular after Queen Victoria wore it, it was a fashion statement, not an indication of experience. The “purity” association got tacked on much later.

      Now, the white dress has morphed again and seems to mean nothing more than “bride”.

      Besides, if “white = purity”, then I am highly offended we aren’t worrying about what the groom’s suit color means. ;)

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        Also, white was a statement of wealth. Such an impractical color even now, and to purchase and item that would likely only be worn once, due to the style and the color, was a way for parents of the bride (generally) to demonstrate that they could afford to send their daughter off in style.

        Since we all love us some Miss Manners, shall I paraphrase and say “How appalling it is to have ones attire supposedly allude to ones ‘experience'”!

        • Class of 1980


  • SelkieKel

    First off, congratulations!

    Secondly, I can’t tell you how close this hits to home. Even though my fiance and I are doing the quiet elopement thing (which has been INSANELY hard to keep secret), it’s profoundly refreshing to see a couple consciously decide what makes them happy, then take the steps to realize that and FIE on any associated stigma. Meg is 150% on the money when she describes how shame-filled and isolating it can be to plan a second wedding (and/or get remarried). We, as a society, have been fed a whole litany of ideals concerning relationships and marriage, but life is almost never so clear-cut and neat as we’re told it “should be”. (something I admittedly didn’t realize until my own first marriage fell apart)

    Finding happiness in another is a cause for celebration, no matter how to you choose to do so. Best wishes to you, your new husband, and your combined family!

  • I think this is awesome. Good for you! And congratulations!

  • Jaime

    You deserve to celebrate your happiness and shame on those whom might try to take away from it. Congratulations! <3

  • Ambi

    Beautifully written. I have never experienced anything like this, but I can understand how difficult it can be to push against such attitudes. But good for you (and your fiance) for sticking up for what you want and need. It sounds like you are off to a very healthy and loving start to your life together.

    This made me think of the time when, after I moved in with my boyfriend, my mom flatly told me that “if you get pregnant, we aren’t paying for a wedding.” My boyfriend’s mom basically said the same thing (by way of talking about a friend’s daughter who got pregnant, had the baby, and a year later married the father and had the “audacity” to have a big white wedding – she said “if my daughter got pregnant, ther is no way we’d let her have a wedding”).

    Part of why I really LOVE APW is that it features couples that completely destroy the WIC narrative that weddings are for young, white, heterosexual, wealthy, virginal brides getting married for the first time in a big poufy white dress in a church, with a ballroom or country club reception afterwards, with all the pretty things and no messiness. Marraiges are about love, in all its many wonderful forms, and I am SO glad we are celebrating the fact that, sometimes, true lasting love comes after divorce (or baby), and it is something to be shouted from the rooftops!

  • Contessa

    One of the saddest thoughts I had when I became engaged for a second time was realizing that no matter what we planned, the sweetness would be different from the first wedding because I was going to have to fight someone for it. Somehow I saw clearly that I’d be fighting family expectations and societal norms for what I wanted. I didn’t see this coming as much but in the end I fought myself pretty hard for what I thought I should be allowed to have too.

    We too are making a new family with my future (as of 10 days from now) husband and my two sons. We have the addition of my ex-husband who is still a very good friend of mine and who is at our house often as we raise the boys together. Our little new American family of 5. I see all of this as a blessing (peacefulness and friendship) while others seem to see us as a sideshow and ask questions in hushed tones about how “isn’t it all so weird?”

    As usual APW pipes up with what my brain needed to hear today. In 10 days I’m going to bring the joy and sweetness when I marry my fiance in front of everyone we know (seriously, the guest list is insane), my two sons and my ex-husband and we’re going to continue to fight to build the family that works for us.

    Congratulations on sorting that out for yourself, I hope your family grows and strengthens too :)

    • HH

      Congratulations! I’m sure your wedding will be incredibly sweet and meaningful.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      Maybe, and this is just my two cents, it will just be a different kind of sweetness. The sweetness that comes with realizing that you are brave enough to enter into marriage with first hand knowledge of how it can feel when it goes wrong. The kind of sweetness that comes with knowing that the five of you have carved out a wonderful life for yourselves despite the cultural narrative that told you it wouldn’t happen.

      I am certain it will be nothing short of wonderful :)

    • Class of 1980

      What’s REALLY sad is that people judge you for pulling off something they themselves couldn’t … still having a good relationship with the father of your children.

      What a gift to your children! They won’t have to endure a tug-of-war and they get to see adults acting in harmony, which is in everyone’s best interest. They also learn that even though a relationship doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the love and care has to go away.

      That people call it “weird”, says more about them than about you. People are always surprised that I’m still friends with my ex-husband. We are both proud of it.

      • Contessa

        I keep wishing we could just live in a bubble. It seems like there are always two battles going on; the family we are hammering together daily and the defending we 5 have to do about our choices. It’s quite tiring.

        I did need to have someone remind methat we are just fine today – thanks.

  • momtoadog

    Thank you for this.

    In 87 days, I’m marrying my best friend. We picked each other up and dusted each other off when our respective first spouses walked out two weeks apart. After the dust settled, we realized that them leaving – while incredibly painful, especially for him and his two kids – was really a blessing. Not that we wish either of them an ill will (even when one of the exes is being difficult), but neither of us was with the right person. So, we now have a chance to celebrate finding the right person and the beginning of our new lives together, and the beginning of my new role as stepmom.

    I’m still struggling with “keeping things small and simple” because I did the big white wedding the first time (and actually had a second wedding with my first husband as well – we got divorced and remarried, seemed like the right thing at the time, but it was still just as wrong as it had been the first time around. I may not be the brightest, but I am persistent…) and even though no one has put any pressure on us to keep things small, I still hear those voices in my own head. I want to be all giddy and excited, but I’m older, wiser and afraid of looking like a fool. I actually told FI the other night that wedding planning was easier the first time around because there wasn’t a stigma around my first wedding. But, the thing that kept us from eloping was wanting his children to be part of it. To see us becoming a family. They are so excited, I can’t imagine not letting them be there and experiencing it with us.

    So, thanks again. This is what I needed to read right now.

    • Contessa

      The first one was easier because there was less baggage and with that, less family and friends with opinions (on your life choices *and* your bridal shoe choices).

      “I want to be all giddy and excited, but I’m older, wiser and afraid of looking like a fool.” – I had a meltdown in the Big Box Bridal Store over my “34 year old second time bride” ability to wear a veil. I wanted one because they are pretty but I didn’t want to look like I was playing dressup and I kept thinking people would snicker at me. I have one now but I’ve spent 27 hundred hours trying to get it at the right angle on my head so I don’t look “like a 19 year old.” I am probably nuts.

      • cartascartas

        if you’re getting married, you can wear a veil. end of story.

      • MDBethann

        I was a 33 year old first time bride a month ago and wore a veil. I drew the line at the blusher – that seemed a little too young for me personally – but rock the veil! I was on the fence about it and concerned it would be too high and pouffy, but my hair dresser made a little “pocket” at the back of my head with the hair she pulled back from the sides of my face (I did part up, part down in curls) and the veil comb fit neatly in the pocket so it wasn’t big and pouffy on top of my head. I looked anything but 19 in my veil and strapless gown.

  • First off, good for you! And congratulations!

    I too have never experienced anything like this. My parents divorced when I was very young, and both remarried around the same time. I was about eight or nine at the time and always enjoyed the company of these new families (my stepmom had two kids, my stepdad has two kids, so I expanded from one sibling to five), so I thought it was a grand idea.

    Both my parents had very large second weddings, wore white, and partied down, and I never thought much of it. I think my subsequent upbringing in homes where remarriage equaled happier memories for everyone, so it dampened the outer cultural narrative.

    So I say party down. You deserve it!

    • Class of 1980

      I seem to have gotten an “anti-shame” vaccine too.

      The main thing I think should change with a second wedding, is that it reflect a more grownup and sophisticated sense of style.

  • Thank you for this! When Steve and I first got engaged, it was my second time around, but his first. Still there was an assumption (even among family members) that we’d go to the courthouse and have a casual dinner afterward. It was as if there was this expectation that we keep things on the hush-hush because I’d already done this before, and who has two big weddings anyway?

    Our wedding was small and intimate and secular and outside, and I wore a bridesmaid’s dress and didn’t wear a veil. It was pretty much the opposite of my first wedding. But it was still important that we have one on our terms and in our style. It was still important that we invite family and friends to be part of it.

    I hope your wedding is as memorable and big as you want it to be!

  • Anon.

    This post made me think. A lot. I don’t really expect anyone to read this, but this feels like a great forum to air my thoughts.

    I got engaged about two weeks ago. I’m young (24), never been married before, and neither has my fiance. My issue with second weddings comes from my dad (who we still haven’t told about the engagement, btw). 4 years ago, he dropped my mother like a hot potato and drove off into the sunset with his mistress. They married less than 6 months later. He deliberately un-invited both my sister and I to the wedding, even threatening that he would cut off all financial assistance if we showed up (which would be against the court papers), then told his family that we didn’t want to come because we hated our grandparents.

    Since then, he has treated us, his daughters, like dirt. He fully embraces his “new family,” taking care of day care and lunch boxes and birthdays, but won’t give us the time of day. Example: when tornadoes ripped through my city, killing many, he didn’t call or text or email. He posted a comment on Facebook 10 days later. Since then, I haven’t spoken to him on the phone in over a year. THIS is my only example of a second marriage. Lies, deceit, hatefulness, heartbreak. I hadn’t really considered how this one example made me see the entire structure of a second wedding.

    I was hesitant to read today’s article because I was scared of what feelings it would raise. I’m quite content in being furious and disgusted with him, and I didn’t want to shake those foundations. Then I realized you can’t be confident in your emotions and reasoning if you’re afraid to explore other options.

    Today’s post showed me that second marriages CAN be loving, they CAN bring families together, they CAN be good. With the post and examples listed in the comments, I’m even more sure that he deliberately chose the wrong option, but I’m now also sure that people CAN choose the right option.

    All of you approaching second marriages, I hope you take the other posts to heart. Divorce is supposed to be the thing that splits families, but weddings can hurt people too.

    • Class of 1980

      Your father exhibited extreme behavior. Thinking of it that way might help you put your bad experience of a second wedding into context.

      My parents divorced and remarried and it was nothing like what you went through. Our family just got bigger.

      • Anon.

        You’re right. It was extreme behavior. It’s just hard to realize that when it’s the only example you have.

        I’ve been following the comments closely, and it’s so nice to see everyone with positive experiences. I like how simply you said that your family “just got bigger.” Love should be that simple.

  • GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

  • Lynn

    We have friends who are getting married–going big–in September. There is a lot of ugliness surrounding their marriage, primarily because the future husband just had the big wedding 3 years ago (that everyone tried to talk him out of) and almost as soon as he and his then-wife were back from their honeymoon, he and the future bride began an affair. It wasn’t hidden–and in fact, some of the things done were incredibly cruel to the then-wife. It was handled very, very poorly.

    There are a lot of hard feelings floating around. A lot of judgement. When everyone is together, it’s the elephant in the room. There’s also an undercurrent of wondering whether this relationship will last…given the history. And I believe there’s also some fear…what if our marriages are as vulnerable as the first marriage?

    Most people went all out for the future husband the first time–big bachelor party, big wedding shower gifts, big wedding gifts, and I don’t think that they are willing to spring for it all again so soon. My husband has even been discussing *not* attending the wedding, but that has more to do with extremely hurtful things they said about our relationship (and then couldn’t admit and never apologized for), although it is easier for him to blame it on other things.

    I DO think love should be celebrated, but I am terribly conflicted about this wedding…for me it’s more along the lines of hurt-me-whatever, hurt-someone-I-love-and-you’ll-wish-you-were-dead. They were brutal to him. If they are happy together…if it’s right this time…good for them. The great thing about life is that we get to make mistakes and we get to start over…there is grace.

    • Denzi

      I think this: “And I believe there’s also some fear…what if our marriages are as vulnerable as the first marriage?” hits the nail on the head. It’s like a lot of other Big Issues Fraught With “You’ll Seeeeeeeeee”s we talk about around here: people need to shore up insecurity about their own choices by tearing down someone else’s. If we say that women who don’t change their names are “less nurturing,” we don’t have to examine our own conflictedness about taking our husbands’ names (or the reverse bullshit about women who take their husbands’ names not being as good at their careers). If we say “GLBT people dont deserve equal rights” we don’t have to examine our privileges and prejudices in our own relationships. If we demonize people who are remarrying, we don’t have to think about the fact that our own relationships are fragile and we too might go through a rollercoaster of relationship heartbreak and end up with someone else.

      (This isn’t to say that the guy in your particular situation isn’t a jerk, Lynn. But in general, I think the stigma is about fear. And I am so glad that there is grace.)

  • Sandy

    Having recently remarried, this topic is obviously emotional for me. I was watching SYTD: Bridesmaids and was hit with how awful people can be about this. The bride, speaking to the consultant about her sister/maid of honor getting married as well, said that her sister was “stealing” the appointment to look at dresses for her own wedding, 30 days later. The consultant, I sh*t you not, said: “Oh my god that horrible! I’ve never heard of sisters getting married in the same year, let alone a month later! That’s so selfish!” Then the bride said that her sister shouldn’t be having a wedding anyway, since it was her second marriage and she should just be heading to the courthouse.

    So many things wrong with the entire exchange.

    • Contessa

      And the fact that it’s on tv perpetuates the idea that it’s correct. Somewhere, someone will remember that exchange and make a decision based off of it and feel like sh*t. Way to go TLC.

      • Sandy

        I was really shocked and went into a rant at my husband about how SYTD represents everything wrong with WIC.

    • Michelle

      I saw that episode too and had the same reaction! And also: the consultant works at a bridal store and hasn’t heard of sisters getting married within the same YEAR? I can think of like 3 examples of that situation off the top of my head and I’m pretty far from the wedding industry! I call B.S.

    • Anna

      I think the best way to combat this is to not watch these shows. Or the networks that support them.

    • My sister (who had been engaged for 2 years at this point without a wedding date) sent me a text the night I got engaged this past Christmas Eve telling me that we needed to coordinate our wedding dates because “weddings are expensive and our family can’t afford two weddings in the same year” (newsflash, our family isn’t paying. Also, I’m not coordinating my wedding date with anyone. I have enough sense not to be a bitch about it).

      I told her not to worry, that I wasn’t getting married too soon so we should be okay. She immediately asked her fiancé’s family if they could please go ahead and get married (her now-husband is still in college and for a lot of reasons they wanted him to wait until graduation… he’s been in school for years….). They agreed. As soon as my fiancé and I picked our May 2014 wedding date, my sister scrambled to book hers in August ’13.

      All through her (rushed, disorganized) wedding planning, I felt like I was required to sit down and shut up about mine. I still feel weird talking about my wedding and she got married last Sunday.

  • Do you mind if I ask if the person who officiated your ceremony mentioned anything about it being your second time around? The person who officiated my sister’s ceremony did – and we all found it pretty abhorrent. He basically said something along the lines of “and even though your first marriages failed, may God grant you the strength to see this one though.” It was just one of lots of insulting things he said. And did the officiant call out the fact that your kids were an integral part of your union, too? That’s something I like to see done – it seems strange to gloss over children from previous marriages, because they are (and will continue to be) such an integral part to your shared life together.

    • Contessa

      I asked the people making the toasts not to mention “first marriages” or “This time”. I’m pretty sure if it comes up I will die.

      • Ambi

        Nope, you’ll hold your head up with grace and pride and remember this exact conversation on APW and be proud that you are helping to destroy this particular stereotype. I promise you, if that happens, and you do respond with grace and pride and just throw off sparks of love and happiness instead of shame . . . it will make a big impact on SOMEBODY there. Some day, somebody who saw that will be in your position and will have a different sort of narrative in their head, one where second marriages are really really happy events to be celebrated proudly.

        • Yes, I agree–we really didn’t want to talk about our first marriages in our ceremony–and we even chose music carefully so as not to subliminally trash our first marriages (i.e. we nixed: “here comes the sun” because it implied that our first marriages were dark (they were, but our kids don’t need that messaging)).

          Something a bit weird that happened at our wedding was that when my dad toasted he said that “Manya has been waiting her entire life for this day.” It kind of hit a weird note of dissonance because it kind of dismissed the near-decade of my life spent with someone else. And while it was true that I had been waiting my whole life to have the beautiful wedding I had always dreamed of, marrying a man who I am deeply in love with and who is a wonderful match for me, it was still just …weird.

          I think there’s a way to lovingly honor and accept your experience as it is–even if it is messy. After all, it is all that we have been through that brings us to this exact moment. A nod to that from my dad might have been a little less weird than just pretending like this was the first time.

          • Contessa

            I know exactly what you mean. There are a few people in my life who speak as though my previous marriage and life never happened and it’s frustrating because it DID happen and when they try and deny it they make me feel like remembering it and celebrating it is wrong somehow.

    • Sarah

      I would have fired him on the spot. But I’m an impulsive hot head like that :)

      • My sister was so lost in the magic of the moment that she didn’t really listen to what the minister was saying. She “heard” the words but wasn’t really listening. She didn’t even realize how badly he harped on it until someone mentioned it to her afterward and then she asked the rest of us what we thought. Part of me didn’t want to say anything to spoil the moment in retrospect – but I would have felt disingenuous to lie to her face and say the guy was awesome. He wasn’t.

  • Marina

    This is so smart. How important to decide that there’s a point where you stop apologizing for your current relationship (or your previous relationships) and acknowledge that you truly have a relationship and family worth celebrating.

  • Sarah

    I’m planning my second wedding, and we’re going big: church, ballroom, ivory dress, and the most amazing man I’ve ever met. At first, I felt guilty because, after only 4 years of being divorced, I’ve chosen to remarry another man. I felt like I should have mourned longer and that I should feel ashamed because I failed in my first marriage. But then I realized that no one else knows my path: no one else battled reproductive cancer at 24; no one else broke their pelvis, back, and hip in a bicycle wreck that ended their pro career; no one else suffered through my divorce (and I’ve never hurt like I did during the dissolution of my first marriage). Damn it. If I want to wear a taffeta dress, carry a bouquet of flowers, and feed 230 of my closest friends and family dinner followed by ridiculous dancing, I’m not going to ask anyone’s permission. What he and I have found deserves to be celebrated.

    After the pain that is divorce, the courage to try again deserves its own celebration; we deserve to celebrate.

    • Denzi

      You do deserve to celebrate. You are strong and courageous and graceful. (Early) congratulations and good wishes for your marriage!

  • Roz

    My boy has been married before. It lasted less than a year before she cheated and left but nevertheless he was married. In the beginning I had to work through my own issues with this ~ when you meet the man you want to marry in your mid 20s I never imagined they would be in the process of divorcing and that I would eventually be their ‘second wife’. (rather naive of me given that my mum is my dads second wife, hah!) I’m pretty much past that now and thankfully he is much better emotionally now the divorce is some years in the past. We are pre engaged and I want a typical wedding – white dress and a big party after with all our loved ones. I want the wedding that I think our awesome love and relationship deserve. He s on the same page – even though he has had the big, white wedding before he is happy to do it again with me. In his eyes his first marriage doesn’t count given her behavior and it’s short life. I had some concerns though about what others who had been to his first wedding would think of this…these were pretty much confirmed when a well meaning female friend of his (while a bit tipsy at a wedding we were all attending) asked him whether he would feel a bit silly standing up in front of everyone saying those vows again when he had done it before. Her husband was mortified at what she was saying, my boy was a bit uncomfortable and I was nonplussed that she had just verbalized exactly what I was worried about. Part of me wanted to set her straight and let her know that just because he had said vows before didn’t mean that ours would have any less meaning but we just brushed it off. She didn’t mean anything nasty by it, sometimes people just don’t think.

    But I will be having that white wedding, I will not be thinking on the day about the fact that he has done this before as it has no relevance to the validity of our relationship or the specialness of our day. We will however be using the fact that he has been married before as a convenient excuse when limiting our guest list numbers, hehe. Plus I get a guy who has planned a wedding before and knows what he is doing – win!! And most importantly someone who, due to having picked the wrong person before, knows what he wants in a partner, a relationship and a wedding.

    • Iliana

      Congratulations and you are so lucky. I got married 7 years ago (I am now divorced). I did not have a wedding then (we were broke and I came here on a fiancée visa, so we got married at the courthouse by a JOP less than 3 months later or I’d politely be sent back home). At the time it did not matter to me, but his lies, cheating and emotional abuse took a terrible toll on me. Fast forward to last year. I met a wonderful, almost perfect man. He is also divorced. We got engaged last November. As soon as we started discussing details about our wedding, he told me he just wanted to elope or have a quick courthouse wedding (he had the big white expensive wedding). He said his wedding felt more like a production and stated he did not want cake, or best man or anything. Geez, he didn’t even want to have his best friend there. I felt so hurt. I told him I have not plans to spend a fortune on this one, I just wanted to celebrate the fact that we have found each other in front of our closest friends and family. I cancelled the engagement. He is really great-until we get to the wedding part. I still haven’t gotten over it and I wonder if I ever will.

  • Kathryn

    Can I just say thank you for writing this?!? I so needed to hear it this week – but not for the reason most of you think. My mom is getting married soon (her third wedding) and while I am thrilled she has found happiness, I am struggling with my judgements. I know that there is more than cultural pressure leading me to not feeling thrilled. I just got married myself – and feel weirdly cheated out of all the attention. My logical, adult self says that it shouldn’t matter, there is more than enough love to go around, but there it is anyway. And there are other sticky, personal, mother-daughter relationship issues (aren’t there always) wrapped up in it. But more than that – I find myself getting frustrated with my mom for wearing the white dress, and having the full dinner (at the same time feeling frustrated that she is not putting enough thought into it all – aren’t I the nice daughter??).

    Anyway – this post was so important. And reminds me to take a step back and just be happy for my mom. Her wedding and marriage aren’t a reflection on me – or have really anything to do with me – and my job is to be thrilled for her, celebrate, wish her and her new husband nothing but the best, while also supporting them in the face of other family members snark.

    Putting my happy face on and looking forward to a beach wedding!

    • momtoadog

      Very insightful comment. I think it’s easy for a lot of us who have been married before to say now that a second wedding is still just as (if not more so) worthy of being celebrated. But before our first marriages failed, I think many of us may have had some of the same, less than open-minded thoughts about second marriages and the weddings that start them off. I never gave it much thought before, but I guess in the back of my mind there was the expectation that the second time around is the ivory colored suit at the courthouse. Some of it was lack of experience with second weddings and some of it was just picking up on the outdated stereotypes instead of questioning them.

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  • Holly

    When my boyfriend and I started talking about getting married, I heard myself saying things like “oh, wedding planning’s so tedious, I just want to be married to you, not plan a (another) wedding….let’s just do something easy and small”. And I saw the light go out of his eyes, because, although I may have been married before and suffered through the tedium of planning, and felt shame when I thought about having another wedding….he had not and did not. He was looking forward to the day when he got to celebrate with all his friends and family, and have a wonderful party to celebrate a joyful….joyful!…occasion. In reading this blog, I’ve gradually come to be excited about the idea of planning a wedding with him; planning a wonderful celebration; letting us share our joy with all those we love. Joy overflowing – that’s how it feels to be with him, and I’m realizing I want to let that joy overflow into the form of (another) wedding. And in order to do that, I’m going to have to put aside my shame and embarrasement, which I don’t know where even comes from….my friends and family who know what I’ve been through are so so happy for me; there’s no need for shame. I want to let him have the big happy wedding he’s always wanted, and not let my sense of shame, and past sorrows, steal away the joy due that day. But it’s hard somehow…from the practicalities of not even thinking to ask my parents to pay for another wedding, to the subtleties of realizing that many of his friends and family don’t even know I was married before (thousands of miles away), and I don’t want them to first learn that on the day they watch me marry him, whether through someone’s comments or through my/our having chosen a scaled down wedding!

  • Moz

    I think this is marvellous. Congratulations!

  • Jenni

    My dad was married once before he married my mom. It was years later, so they had the typical church-and-reception wedding. But my mom, whose favorite color is purple, dressed her bridesmaids in green, because the bridesmaids had worn purple at my dad’s first wedding and my grandmother said she couldn’t do the same. I hear the regret in her voice about that and wish I could teleport APW back in time for her to support and affirm that she can do whatever she damn well wants!

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