“I did” and now “I do” again: twisting the traditions of second wedding etiquette.
How to minimize matrimonial mayhem and make the most of that second journey down the aisle.
18 June, 2020 by

Remember that heart-stopping moment you gazed into each other’s eyes and spoke your vows, exchanged rings and committed to being together forever and ever, with your loving family and closest friends as witnesses.
There you were, stepping into your new life as a married couple, and not for a second did you imagine that you would ever veer off this path that you had chosen so freely…                   

Then, for one reason or another or many, you stumble off that chosen path, and the life you built with that person is no more: perhaps it’s hard to believe that you will ever be part of a couple again. And then it happens: someone makes your heart want a new life for two, and wedding bells are ready to ring again – along with all the planning, the pitfalls, the potential for disaster and the social sensitivities that come with… THE SECOND WEDDING! 

Firstly, are all the (wedding) bells & whistles appropriate second time around? 
Why not? This is just as much a celebration of love as your first one was, and there is no sacred playbook with rules for a second, third or even fourth wedding!                                                However, as there are sure to be guests that were at your first wedding too, it would be good to twist a few traditions, to personalise this new journey, and make it unique to the two of you.

How can we ‘twist’ our children into the day’s proceedings?  
It’s non-negotiable: any kids (yours and his) have to be a big part of your big day right from the early planning stages – and it’s also important that they play a role they feel comfortable in. 

If there are younger ones or even grandchildren in the mix, you might consider a classic wedding party and include them as flower girls or bridesmaids, pageboys, ring-bearers or groomsmen. If you have an adult son or daughter, perhaps you could ask them to walk you down the aisle?  In all likelihood, your father gave you away the first time around, so this would be a beautiful break from tradition. If your Dad is still around, see how he feels about this – and remind him that he still gets the first dance with you!   

If your groom has an older son, he could ask him to be his best man – or if he has a daughter, he might ask her to stand with him – which would be a twist that gets everybody talking!

BE SENSITIVE to how your children feel about you getting married again: if divorce occurred, they now realise that their parents will never get back together, and they may be reluctant to be involved.  Be honest and open with them, tell them that if they don’t want to be a part of your day, you will be very sad, but this is what you want for your life and you will still go ahead. TIP: have this conversation BEFORE you book your venue, in case some family discussions still need to take place before the big day.   

Can ex-spouses or partners be invited to the wedding?

Again, there are no set rules here, and if all the parties concerned have a good relationship, this really shouldn’t be a problem! BE WARNED HOWEVER, it can get complicated…    
Maybe you don’t get on with your ex-husband BUT your fiancé and his ex are great friends BUT their relationship makes you unhappy OR you and your ex are really close and your fiancé doesn’t approve OR he’s fine about your ex coming as long as he can invite his too BUT you’ve never even met her OR one of you is widowed, and you don’t think it would be fair for the other to have an ex-spouse there when you can’t … BUT you really want to invite your previous family in-law and he thinks that would be  too weird… See what we mean about a potential minefield?                                                                                                                                               

Really, the only thing is to sit down together and discuss every aspect honestly and openly, and come to mutual decisions that make both of you happy… DARE WE SAY, LIKE THE GROWNUPS YOU ARE! 

Can I wear white to my second wedding? 
YES, YOU MAY: it is your wedding day, and you should wear whatever makes you feel fabulous! We would say that the only thing to avoid is a dress that may remind guests of what you wore to your first wedding. Also, if you wore a veil back then, consider hair combs, a floral headdress or even a hat this time round.

The same goes for your wedding color and flowers: if you can, try and plan this wedding in a different season to your first, which will make it much easier to create a total contrast and magical new memories.

What kind of wedding reception would be suitable?

Again, whatever makes you both happy is perfect. Family and your closest friends at a favorite restaurant, a summer garden party, a beach wedding or a black-tie gala? A jukebox, DJ, band or string quartet?  Intimate or grand, relaxed or formal, the choice is yours entirely – just as long as there is no sense of déjà vu for anyone from either side!

You can also bring in any reception traditions you like: the wedding party entrance, speeches and toasts, and speeches, the first dances, cake cutting, and throwing the bouquet – but maybe think twice about tossing the garter, with its slightly risqué connotations, if you  have kids or grandkids present!  

Would it be okay to still have a gift registry?

We have done quite a bit of research here, and while most sources say it is quite acceptable to register for gifts, they tend to put the ball in the court of the prospective couple on the absolute suitability of doing so.

Here at VOOMA, we put our heads together and came up with our own argument for it, which goes like this:  in the case of a first wedding, gifts are usually given to help the young couple set up home and start their lives together. More often than not, when a second wedding comes around, one or both of the parties is often financially stable, and both are likely to already have a well set-up household, where nothing is actually NEEDED as such.

However, many relatives and friends will want to buy you something to celebrate the occasion, even if you request them not to – so our recommendation would be to suggest gifts that would help you enjoy a hobby or interest you share, like sporting equipment, movie or music collections, things for the garden, even books or wine, and create a reasonably priced registry accordingly. 

Another wonderful idea we came across was from a couple who met at an art exhibition. As a wedding gift to themselves, they decided to commission a painting from the artist whose work they both admired. They created a card that went with their wedding invitation, telling guests the story, and inviting them to contribute whatever they wanted towards this special canvas, which would become a symbol of their love, and take pride of place in their home. To do this, they set up a fund through the gallery – and displayed the canvas on an easel at the reception, so everyone could see what they had helped to buy!

It doesn’t have to be a piece of art though: it could be a fabulous long table, big enough to fit a newly blended family; an antique sleigh bed, a specially commissioned quilt or a garden bench – something useful  that represents the love you have for each other, and grows companionably  old with you. 

Should I expect to have a shower or bachelorette party thrown for me?

Hmmm, this one is TRICKY: in theory, you should have most of the goodies normally gifted to a first-time bride, and traditional parties of this type tend to be far more loved by the younger attendees than the more ‘mature’ amongst us!   


Perhaps a champagne brunch or a Saturday lunch with your best girlfriends and closest family might be just right – but this is something to thrash out with your maid/matron of  honour!       

PS: whichever way you go, remember to act SURPRISED!

Could I have a religious wedding ceremony? 

This is obviously dependent on your religion, that of your new husband, and whether either of you have been divorced. Many second marriage couples opt for a quieter civil ceremony, followed by a religious blessing, either in a place of worship or at the reception

Today, non-religious ceremonies are frequently performed by civil celebrants like a justice of the peace, judge, mayor or registrar. There are also several humanist organizations which provide individuals with credentials to solemnize marriages. 

THE CELEBRANT DIRECTORY is a good source of information on this aspect of your wedding day, and we highly recommend it. 

There you have it, ladies – the VOOMA guide to minimizing mayhem and twisting tradition to create the perfect second wedding day for you and your man, as your family and friends share in your happiness and celebrate your good fortune to be given a second chance at a wonderful new life –  YOU GO GIRL!