It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly tacky and thoughtless people can be about second marriages. All kinds of people. I think, in this particular case, I have heard it all -- from snarky bridesmaids reporting in hushed tones that the bride is on her third marriage and the groom is probably just trying to get a Green Card to wasted groomsmen who feel compelled to roast their buddy regarding his former wife rather than toast the new bride and groom at their reception. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the worst case scenario is when I have a bride or groom who has been married before and who doesn't understand why that shouldn't be factor in the planning this time around.
But let me back up and say that the average person can be very rude (apparently without even trying) when they learn that somebody is getting married, AGAIN. As if it's a rare event that could never happen to them. Ha! My favorite personal example is a fellow I like to call Sergeant Tacky (real name withheld to protect the guilty) of the Metro Transit Police in Washington, DC. When my now-husband Bill proposed and took me to his police station to share the good news, Sgt. Tacky's response was "Congratulations to the Next Future Ex-Mrs. Malone!" Say what??? I straight up went home and drew a line through his name on the invite list. Not even kidding. My husband (Sgt. Tacky's District Commander at the time) made sure that the jerk knew exactly why he wasn't invited to our fabulous reception at the National Press Club when we returned from Vieques Island where we tied the knot. Somebody had to keep the public safe that night, right? Sure, I got even. But I've never forgotten that mean, tactless remark that knocked me right off of Cloud 9.
I think the worst offenders are my clients though -- most specifically the brides who have been married before. Some girls begin every sentence of our first few conference calls making comparisons to their first weddings with every option I give them. Usually, they're telling me they don't want anything like what they had last time. And most of the time, that means they want exactly what they had, but bigger, better and in a different color. There are some exceptions to that rule that go far the other way -- they don't want to do a first dance or cut the cake or toss the bouquet because they've already done that before. I've been known to gently (and sometimes not so gently) remind my more... um... "experienced" brides that this is their new groom's first trip down the aisle and if he has a strong opinion about anything, she should probably listen to him and let him have some of what he wants.
The good news for those grooms is that by the time we're really into the planning, the simple fact of Vieques Island has put an end to that nonsense because there's no place in the entire world that quite compares to our whacky little rock. You can't have the string quartet this time because we don't have one (we have lots of other options, don't worry). And the gi-normous peony bouquets you and your girls all carried aren't even an option in your flower choices because those flowers (and certain others) can't take the tropical heat and will be dead before you get to the ceremony. No, I won't let you release latex balloons or fire lanterns at your wedding reception because you might kill the baby endangered turtles that are born on our pristine beaches. And don't even waste your time making sure the groomsman attire is different from your last wedding party because rental tuxes aren't something you ask people to drag to the Caribbean for several days.
On the flip side, first-time brides sometimes need a little pep talk to give their future husbands (let's call them "gently-used grooms") a push back when the guys try to get out of the traditional wedding activities they've already done once. That's just plain old unfair to a first-time bride who has been dreaming about all the bells and whistles for years. I'm not talking about something that's a financial issue -- generally speaking, these guys are objecting to things that don't cost them anything but effort.
I'm sure it's very difficult for somebody whose first marriage ended in divorce to get as excited about a second wedding. That seems natural to me. But it's sort of a requirement for getting engaged. If a wedding element is important to either one of you, both of you should seriously considering doing it. For example, I tell my clients that it's a hard rule that if either one of them feels hinky about seeing each other before the ceremony on the big day, don't do it! And I think that if it's the first wedding for only one of you, that bride or groom's wishes should probably be weighted a little heavier than somebody who has had the fun of planning the "most important day of their life" once already.
My husband says it's the "obligation" of every bride and groom to try their hardest to make the wedding day fabulous and memorable for the person they are marrying. If you approach wedding planning with that attitude, it doesn't matter if either of you has ever been married before because you'll both be thinking about the right people when you make your big decisions. Remember, everything about your wedding should make you look forward to the future you're building together now.
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