12/23/2010 10:55 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Second Wedding Dilemma

Last March when my boyfriend of almost 3 years got down on one knee and proposed to me my only thought was, "Yes! I want to spend the rest of my life with this man through good times and bad!" Marrying Matt is not about the wedding, it's about the 50 years after the wedding. An important distinction from my first failed marriage. When Matt, who has never been married before, started talking about the kind of wedding he would like, filled with family and friends and traditions, a dull ache crept into the pit of my stomach. Did I want a second wedding? Or to be more exact, did I deserve a second wedding?

Immediately after we got engaged I mentioned running off to Vegas for a quick drive-through ceremony or just going to the local court house to get hitched. It's sensible, more economically sound, and quiet. I didn't want to make a fuss about my second nuptials partly because I had learned the valuable lesson that fantastic weddings don't necessarily make for fantastic marriages but mostly because I was embarrassed to have another wedding. Would my sister be my maid of honor again? How many of my friends would be coming that already sat through my first wedding? Would people who once gave me dishes that were long ago divided up feel pressured to give me more dishes? I was feeling sheepish about wearing another white dress, deciding on color schemes and giggling with my girlfriends about honeymoon lingerie. Why should I get to have two weddings when some of my friends haven't had even one? Usually a tirelessly extroverted person, I was now ashamed to share my joy with those closest to me.

Two months after we got engaged, in May, I realized I was being selfish by not wanting a second wedding, since Matt wanted a first wedding. And with a wedding comes all those things I feared I shouldn't do again, like go dress shopping and taste cakes and buy fun bridal magazines and glow with happy and in love engagement. Is it tacky for me to star in another wedding? Maybe to some it is, but I can't worry about that right now. What I can do is enjoy the process of planning because this time I'm planning with Matt, which automatically makes this experience vastly different from my first experience with marriage.

By August I had made peace with having a second wedding, and I tried to make sure every detail was as different as possible from my first. My hair was down then, so it should be up this time. I had cupcakes then, so I don't want anything that remotely resembles cupcakes this time. I didn't have a wedding planner then, so I want a wedding planner now. But by doing this, my first wedding was already hijacking my second wedding. To ban Louie Armstrong entirely because one song of his was played during the first reception was giving my embarrassment over having been married before as much power as when I wanted to quickly sneak into City Hall to tie the knot.

In October I realized there are many stages to dealing with all the emotions that second weddings stir up and still in the throes of planning, with a March wedding quickly approaching, I feel I've reached a new stage. One of centered confidence. I'm not obsessing that the shade of purple on our table runners is just so, but I feel strongly that I do deserve a second wedding and I'm certain Matt deserves a first wedding free of baggage. I will wear my hair down, because it looks best that way and we will use a wedding planner, because she is fantastic and helpful. And as my mother put it, this is my first second wedding, and it's going to be perfect not because of the place cards but because of the groom and because I am now a much wiser bride.