Q: There’s no advice on the internet for second time engaged/first time actually getting married brides. It’s been tough juggling “this time versus last time,” even though people are way happier for me now. There’s not much excitement, mostly apathy, with my friends thus far. I told them before this engagement that the next time would be much, much more low key—no bridal shower, no pomp and circumstance or things that stress me out. They assumed I got married the day I got engaged on vacation because that would totally suit me, but I was hoping to have some excitement over this life choice.
Just for some background, I canceled a wedding three weeks before the date, and it was the best (hard) decision I ever made. I returned gifts, my dad sent out a mass email to cancel everything, and sure, there was some money lost, but I got my life back.
Anyway, I had three lovely friends who were my bridesmaids, and three other friends who came to my bachelorette weekend which consisted of a dinner, pregaming, party games, a night out at the club, and a limo wine tour at various wineries. It was a lovely time (and I know it was within everyone’s means), and I am so happy to have that memory.
Fast-forward to now, almost two years later, and I am engaged again (!!), and my fiancé’s friends are constantly asking about how he wants his bachelor party to go. (They are all married, and my fiancé attended their bachelor parties.) We are not having a bridal party, but several of his friends are stepping up to plan and coordinate the festivities. He would prefer a Jack-and-Jill type of thing, or something that ends with us being together after all the festivities, which I would also prefer. His friends’ female significant others are also hoping to be included, and since I am friendly with them, I can see it being a nice time, even if they are not my closest friends.
My question is—should I ask my three or four friends who could probably attend, to attend bachelorette party number two? I’m kind of embarrassed to even ask or expect anything, and maybe this is just an irrational sense of shame, but it would be nice to do something before the wedding. Should I let people who are not that close to me plan it? Are there “rules” for a second-time bride-to-be? Would you be weirded out if someone’s fiancé’s friend’s wife (read: not a close friend) sent out invitations to a best friend for the bachelorette party? Should I even have one, or should I politely decline? Should I offer to pay for my friends’ dinner/manicure/activity since they covered things for me the last time?
A: You are way overthinking this, and maybe projecting a bit.
Your friends will follow your lead here, and so far you’ve told them “low key” and not much else. Nope, there are no rules for a second-time engagement, and nope, it’s not weird to receive an invitation from a wife of a friend of a friend of a partner. Listen: this is a major milestone, and even if you’ve (in some ways), been here before, it’s still really exciting! You’re allowed to be excited, and you’re allowed to invite your friends to join you in that excitement.
You’re approaching this wedding as if it’s only special if it’s shiny and new, only if you followed a very specific path to get there. Or, as if you’re only allotted so much excitement in one lifetime, and you spent all of yours on the first wedding. None of this is true.
And it’s really important for you to shake yourself of this mindset. First of all, you’re probably limiting your own enjoyment by believing this engagement is “only second.” But also, again, your friends are looking to you for cues. If you’ve internalized this idea that your wedding is tarnished, you’re undoubtedly transmitting that to the world. But third of all (and this is important): Your friends very well may not show up for you. They might have other stuff going on, or they might not have cash on hand, or might have plans that night, or might be emotionally spent and distracted by whatever is going on in their own lives. This happens. It happens in “very-first-time-engaged” weddings. So if it does, please don’t take that as confirmation that these ideas you have are all true, that your wedding is less exciting because you took a detour to get here. It’s not true. Honestly.
Don’t look to your friends for an indication of how excited you’re allowed to be. YOU go ahead and get excited, and welcome them to be looped in on that! Let people (even near-strangers) throw you parties, and invite whoever you want. There is zero reason to feel any shame about this.